Monday, January 25 2010
January is a great time to reflect on last year as well as plan for this year. 2009 was the year that residential real estate stopped its temporary decline in sales. Although our market saw fewer sales in the first six months of 2009 compared to 2008 (1879 vs. 2098) the second half of 2009 showed significant improvement. Units sold in the second half of 2009 improved 20.8% compared to the first half of the year and were up 7.6% compared to the second half of 2008. Our local market showed 4149 closed residential transactions representing almost $500 million in sales. Another encouraging statistic is the supply of houses currently for sale. In mid December, there were fewer than 3000 houses listed for sale. In August and September of 2007, there were over 3700 homes on the market. Even more importantly, the “months supply” (listed homes divided by number of monthly sales) declined over the course of 2009. Over the first six months of 2009, months supply averaged 10.19 with a peak of 15.1 months supply last January. The second half of the year averaged 8.3 months supply, a significant improvement. These numbers put us in a much better position for home sales than we were in a year ago and that is exactly what I believe will happen.
The extended and expanded Home Buyer Tax Credit will definitely help sales start this year much better than last year. I know I mentioned this credit last month but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to start now if you are considering buying or selling this year. For sellers, your house has to be listed to expose it to this Spring’s buyers. For buyers, it is not unusual to spend some time looking for a home before signing a purchase agreement and buyers need to allow enough time to arrange financing and complete the closing.
As always the best place to look for homes is at FCTUCKEREMGE.COM “The Easiest Search On The Web”. I have some exciting things to share about my company in next month’s Market Watch and in the meantime call me with any of your real estate questions.
Tuesday, January 19 2010
Some first-time homebuyers and longtime homeowners may be able to claim a federal tax credit on a principal residence bought in 2009 or early 2010. Eligibility depends on a number of factors, including income, homeownership status, and the exact purchase date of the home.
New rules for first-time homebuyers
First-time buyers who purchase a home between Nov. 7, 2009, and April 30, 2010, may be entitled to a federal tax credit worth 10% of the sale price or $8,000, whichever is lesser. Income restrictions apply. The tax credit for joint filers begins to phase out at a modified adjusted gross income of $225,000 ($125,000 for individual taxpayers). The credit disappears entirely at $245,000 for joint filers ($145,000 for individuals).
Old rules for first-time homebuyers
First-timers who bought a home between Jan. 1, 2009, and Nov. 6, 2009, may also be eligible for a federal tax credit worth up to $8,000. A tax credit reduces your tax bill or increases your refund dollar for dollar. In general, whether under the old rules or the new rules, you’ll be required to repay the full value of the credit to the IRS if you don’t maintain the home as your principal residence for three years.
Tax credit for longtime homeowners
If you’re a longtime homeowner—meaning you’ve lived at your principal residence for five consecutive years out of the last eight—you may qualify for a homebuyer tax credit worth up to $6,500. You must purchase a new principal residence between Nov. 7, 2009, and April 30, 2010. Like the first-time homebuyer tax credit that applies to these dates, you can settle as late as June 30, 2010, as long as you have a binding contract by April 30.
Other restrictions and provisions
As long as they serve as principal residences, single-family homes, townhouses, co-ops, and condos are all eligible for a tax credit. Mobile homes may be eligible for the credit, even if the land itself is leased. Owning a vacation home or rental property doesn’t disqualify you as a first-time homebuyer, but you do have to make it clear such properties were never your principal residence.
Monday, January 18 2010
Homeowners who are eligible to deduct the PMI premiums paid on a mortgage can shave hundreds of dollars off their income tax bills.
If you put down less than 20% on a house, expect to be required to purchase private mortgage insurance, which protects the lender in the event you default on the home loan. That’s a good deal for the lender, considering you’re the one paying the PMI premiums.
Getting the PMI tax deduction
Starting with loans issued or refinanced in 2007, and continuing through 2010, you can deduct each year’s premiums paid on PMI for your principal residence and for a non-rental second home. The tax break was originally good for 2007 only, but the government extended it for three years. Unless it’s extended again, you won’t be able to take the deduction beyond 2010.
How much can you save?
According to the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America, an industry trade group, PMI premiums on a median priced home ($198,100 in 2008) run between $50 and $100 per month. Justine DeVito Tenney, a CPA and financial planner with Weiser LLP in Lake Success, N.Y., says a good rule of thumb is $50 a month for every $100,000 of financing. The amount of the downpayment, type of loan, and lender requirements can all affect the actual cost.
Automatic cancellation of PMI
While the tax deduction is nice, at least while it lasts, getting rid of PMI altogether is even nicer. The Mortgage Insurance Companies of America estimates that 90% of homeowners are done paying PMI premiums within five years of buying their homes.
Requests for cancellation
You don’t have to wait for automatic cancellation. When your LTV hits 80%, you can petition your lender to end PMI. The process can take several weeks. Your lender isn’t required to oblige your request, but you’ll bolster your case if you have a good payment history.
Piggyback loans dodge PMI
Looking for a PMI loophole? Try so-called piggyback loans, also known as 80/10/10 or 80/15/5 loans. Basically, the home lender finances 80% and immediately gives you a second loan for another 10% to 15%. You put down 5% to 10%. No PMI is required.
Monday, January 18 2010
The IRS started accepting e-filed tax returns on Jan. 15, marking the official start of tax season. The IRS’ popular Free File program also started accepting returns on Friday. However, as usual, W-2 and 1099 forms are generally not due to taxpayers before Feb. 1, so many taxpayers will not be prepared to file before then.
With the start of tax season, the IRS also announced the release of a new form that eligible taxpayers must use to claim the first-time homebuyer credit. Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of the Credit, must be filed with the taxpayer’s individual tax return and is used to report the purchase of a home that makes the taxpayer eligible for the credit. In addition to Form 5405, eligible taxpayers must also include with their 2009 returns a copy of the settlement statement, executed retail sales contract (for mobile home purchases) or the certificate of occupancy (for newly constructed residences). The IRS reminded taxpayers in a news release that those who are claiming the first-time homebuyer credit cannot e-file because they must attach a proof of purchase to their returns.
E-Filing and Free File
The IRS reports that last tax season 66% of all returns were e-filed (some 95 million returns). The IRS says that for this season it is working on faster acknowledgment of whether a return has been accepted or rejected.
The Free File program allows taxpayers to prepare and file returns electronically for free, through a partnership between the IRS and a group of tax software vendors. Last season, the IRS introduced a new aspect to the Free File program—online fillable forms, which almost any individual taxpayer can use. (Traditional Free File is available only to taxpayers below a $57,000 income limit.) The IRS is urging eligible taxpayers to use the Free File program.
According to the IRS, benefits of e-filing or using Free File include a fast refund, reduced error rate and quick acknowledgment. By using e-file and direct deposit, taxpayers can get a refund in as few as 10 days. The error rate for an e-filed return is 1%, compared with 20% for a paper return. Unlike paper filers, e-filing taxpayers receive an acknowledgment that the IRS has received and accepted or rejected their returns.
Sunday, January 17 2010
EVANSVILLE - Many people are opening their hearts and wallets to help those in need in Haiti, but the FBI wants everyone to be careful who they give their money to. Officials said past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted scams.
The FBI provided this list of things to look for before making a donation:
• Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
Officials ask that anyone who gets such an e-mail or may have been a victim of this kind of scam to notify the Internet Crime Compliant Center at www.ic3.gov.
The IC3 is a joint effort between the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance to report and alert authorities of online scams.
Saturday, January 16 2010
A property dubbed New York City’s skinniest house sold recently for $2.1 million.
The two-story Greenwich Village property is 9.5 feet wide and 42 feet long and has two bedrooms and two baths.
The townhouse was listed last August for $2.7 million by Alex Nicholas, senior vice president of the Corcoran Group. It last sold in 2000 for $1.6 million. It is now for rent for $10,000 per month.
Source: The Associated Press (01/13/2010) http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2010011406?OpenDocument
Friday, January 15 2010
Mortgage application volume increased 14.3 percent last week compared to the previous week on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
On an unadjusted basis applications rose 66 percent. The increase reflects a shortened week due to the New Year’s holiday.
Most of the increase was in refinances, which rose 73.9 percent from the previous week’s unadjusted index. The unadjusted purchase index rose 48.8 percent compared to the previous week and was down 24.9 percent compared to the same week a year ago.
Interest rates slipped:
Source: Mortgage Bankers Association (01/13/2010) http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2010011302?OpenDocument
Thursday, January 14 2010
Ligonier-based Emergency Radio Service Inc. (ERS) has made an acquisition in the Evansville market. It has acquired Tri-State Communications Inc., which has been in southern Indiana since 1957. ERS already has more than 130 workers in offices throughout the state including Fort Wayne, South Bend and Indianapolis.
Evansville, Indiana—January 12, 2010— Emergency Radio Service, Inc. (ERS), of Ligonier, Indiana announced today the acquisition of TSC, Inc., dba Tri-State Communications, of Evansville, Indiana. Tri-State Communications has been an Authorized Motorola Dealer since 1957, and serving the Southwest Indiana region.
“We are very happy to have Tri-State Communications as a part of the ERS family and look forward to the opportunity to work with their team and their many years of experience in the territory.” says Brian Hull VP/GM of ERS, “We are eager to put our combined knowledge and resources to work in Southern Indiana and build on what we have accomplished over the past 62 years.”
ERS has a wide offering of wireless solutions and a dedication to emerging technologies. ERS provides the full line of Motorola two-way radios, wireless networking systems, wireless video surveillance, and emergency communications solutions. ERS has expertise in technologies such as Mesh, point-to-point and point-to-multipoint broadband, and leads the way in indoor WLAN, WWAN, VoWLAN and mobile computing solutions.
ERS is an Authorized Motorola Two-Way Radio Dealer, Motorola Manufacturer Representative, Premier Service Partner, and a Motorola Authorized Channel Partner for Wireless Broadband and Enterprise Mobility.
TSC, Inc has been in business for over 50 years providing high quality two-way radio communications systems to the Government, Public Safety, Commercial and Enterprise customers with offices located in Evansville and Huntingburg, Indiana.
Emergency Radio Service, Inc has been a family owned business since 1948 with a dedicated staff of over 130 members in offices and Service Centers located in Elkhart, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Kokomo, Ligonier, Muncie and South Bend, Indiana. ERS has developed their business with the promise to provide Exceptional Customer Service, earn Customer Loyalty, conduct business in an Honest and Ethical manner with Knowledgeable Employees to provide High Quality Products and Outstanding Field Service at Fair Competitive Prices.
Source: Emergency Radio Service Inc. & Inside INdiana Business http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=39572
Wednesday, January 13 2010
Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden in Evansville reports 2009 was a record year for attendance and revenue. More than 202,000 people visited the zoo, compared to nearly 181,000 in 2008. Revenue was $1.4 million, up from $1.2 million the previous year.
(EVANSVILLE, IN)-2009 shattered attendance and revenue records set in 2008 at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden. Attendance in 2009 was 202,224, a 12% increase over 2008 (180,857). Revenue in 2009 was $1,456,627 which was 20.7% higher than in 2008 ($1,206,645).
“It is rewarding to see how much interest the Zoo is attracting. We had high hopes for AMAZONIA when it opened in 2008 and it has certainly lived up to those expectations,” said Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel. “It is especially gratifying to have such a good year when other state attractions did not fare as well.”
Zoo staff set a goal of breaking 200,000 visitors in 2009. They were aided in that effort by a free admission day on December 26th which was underwritten by Toyota. 3,766 people took advantage of the free admission; it also brought out some visitors who hadn’t been to the Zoo in years.
“In addition to the idea of doing a free day to reach our mark, the day represented a good marketing tool for individuals who would not visit the Zoo otherwise and we look forward to them coming back to visit this summer when the zoo and botanical areas are in full splendor,” said Amos Morris, Zoo Director
The opening of AMAZONIA, Forest of Riches helped boost numbers and revenue in 2008. The Zoo also began operating its own gift shop. Attendance in 2009 was increased again by the popularity of AMAZONIA, which now has its own new attraction – 2 new female jaguar cubs named Zimba and Maya. In 2009, the Zoo also welcomed a new Indian rhino, Mechi, and unveiled the newly renovated nocturnal exhibit in the Kley Building.
Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden is open 365 days a year from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; the entry gate closes at 4:00 p.m. Reduced winter admission rates for adults are $6.50 and children ages 3 -12- are $5.50. Children under three are free. In recognition of their support, Vanderburgh county residents receive a $1 discount. Please visit www.meskerparkzoo.com for more information regarding yearly memberships or other zoo services.
Source: Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden & Inside INdiana Business http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=39559
Tuesday, January 12 2010
An approval in the Indiana House Monday means voters in Indiana will likely have a say on whether property tax caps should go into the constitution.
From southwestern Indiana Democrats Dennis Avery, Trent Van Haaften, Kreg Battles, and Russ Stilwell voted against it.
Monday, January 11 2010
Top-Rated Bank in Indiana and Kentucky
EVANSVILLE, Ind., Jan. 11, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Old National Bancorp (NYSE:ONB) is the 18th best performing bank in the nation and the highest rated bank in Indiana and Kentucky, according to a comprehensive Forbes Magazine ranking of the nation's 100 largest banks. The list was published December 30, 2009, in a Forbes.com article titled "America's Best and Worst Banks." Forbes.com is the online arm of Forbes Magazine.
"This is a tremendous validation of Old National's strength and stability from one of the world's foremost business and financial publications," said Bob Jones. "We are honored by this prestigious recognition and the dedication to exceptional client service that it represents."
In order to measure the health and stability of the nation's largest financial institutions on the list, Forbes turned to SNL Financial, a renowned Charlottesville, Va.-based financial research firm. SNL examined eight key financial measures:
* Return on average equity * Net interest margin * Non-performing loans as a percentage of loans * Non-performing assets as percentage of assets * Reserves as a percentage of NPLs * Two capital ratios (Tier 1 and risk-based) * Leverage ratio
The asset size of the 100 financial institutions on the Forbes list ranges from $5.2 billion to $2.3 trillion.
About Old National Bancorp
Old National Bancorp, which celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2009, is the largest financial services holding company headquartered in Indiana and, with $8 billion in assets, ranks among the top 100 banking companies in the United States. Since its founding in Evansville in 1834, Old National has focused on community banking by building long-term, highly valued partnerships with clients in its primary footprint of Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. In addition to providing extensive services in retail and commercial banking, wealth management, investments and brokerage, Old National also owns one of the largest independent insurance agencies headquartered in Indiana, offering complete personal and commercial insurance solutions. For more information and financial data, please visit the Company's website at www.oldnational.com.
The Old National Bancorp logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=1872
CONTACT: Old National Bancorp Kathy Schoettlin (812) 465-7269 www.oldnational.com
Sunday, January 10 2010
The city of Evansville says controlling its own water and sewer systems is expected to save approximately $14 million over the next five years. Evansville Water and Sewer Utility will take over the systems from private companies. Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel says "private management has not fulfilled expectations nor provided the necessary level of industry expertise."
(EVANSVILLE, IN) – Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel today announced that the Evansville Water and Sewer Utility will take over the operation and management of the City’s water and sewer systems, leading to an estimated savings of approximately $14 million over the next five years compared to current costs under the existing contracts.
“We will be able to better control costs, direct staff more effectively, and put a management team in place that will allow the Utility to run the water and sewer systems more efficiently than a private company,” said Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel. “It’s the Utility’s experience that private management has not fulfilled expectations nor provided the necessary level of industry expertise. The savings we will realize under City control will go toward operations and capital improvements and allow the Utility to hire and retain expertise required to run a first-rate operation.”
The wastewater system is currently managed by Environmental Management Corporation (EMC) whose contract with the City was initiated in 1992. The drinking water system is managed by American Water.
A Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued in August 2009 as contracts with EMC and American Water neared the end of their terms. A review committee evaluated proposals submitted by EMC, American Water, United Water and Veolia, and decided that the operation and management of the Utility should be brought in-house.
The City will evaluate all positions at the Utility to determine appropriate management staffing levels. Most of the Utility’s front line workers are already City employees and the anticipation is that many of the current managers will be retained.
The Utility Board will formally ratify the decision made by the review committee during its January 12th meeting. The Utility will take over the operation and management in March 2010. American Water, which has purchased EMC, has pledged its cooperation through the transition. Residents should see no disruption in service.
Source: City of Evansville & Inside INdiana Business http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=39521
Wednesday, January 06 2010
After years of discussion, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has decided on a location on Evansville’s far East Side for a new VA Outpatient Clinic.
An 11.1-acre site in the Waterford Park commercial subdivision is the proposed building site.
The land at 6226 Waterford Blvd. is just west of North Burkhardt Road and is behind Integra Bank and Kruckemeyer & Cohn Jewelery. The main entrance to the three-story clinic will be off Waterford Boulevard, which is off Burkhardt north of East Lloyd Expressway.
The facility is the second new government building announced within a week. On Dec. 30, plans for a new Social Security Administration building at 2300 N. Green River Road, south of Menards, were revealed.
The site was chosen for its easy access to I-164 and other major thoroughfares and surrounding businesses and services.
“Everything, including amenities such as shopping malls, hotels, movie theaters, restaurants and offices, are all located within two miles of the location,” said Mike Richardson, a broker/developer with Remax Commercial Services who led the site search the past 21/2 years.
“This is where the growth is taking place and that is why the site was selected.”
City bus service includes routes in the area, according to the METS office.
Greg Wathen, president of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana, said the new clinic will be a regional draw that will enhance the Tri-State health care sector.
“It will bring people into the marketplace to purchase products and services. It’s a positive thing.”
No figures on the number of jobs the new clinic will create or the cost of the project were immediately available.
VA officials closed on the land deal Nov. 30, but didn’t release the news until Wednesday.
Summit Smith Healthcare Facilities in Milwaukee, Wis. — the lead developer assigned to the project — bought the land from Evansville-headquartered Decem Investments, Inc., a group which includes Dr. Sanford E. Schen, president, and developer Joseph A. Ream and other investors.
Ream said Summit Smith plans to lease the proposed building and land to the VA for 20 years.
No land sales figures were disclosed.
The start of construction on the all-green, high-tech facility is planned for this summer, if not earlier, weather permitting.
A fall 2011 opening is anticipated, Laurie Tranter, spokeswoman for the VA in Washington, D.C., said by phone.
Veterans from all parts of the nation, not just the region, will be served at the facility, she said.
The red brick clinic with white trim and 436 parking spaces is expected to replace the VA Outpatient Clinic at Walnut and Garvin streets near Downtown.
The new facility will include 95,908 net usable square feet of space, said Tranter.
Discussions about bringing a larger VA outpatient clinic to Evansville began more than five years ago.
The main building of the former Welborn Baptist Hospital was once seriously considered as a potential site.
In all, Richardson said, the Waterford Park site was one of more than 20 sites studied. “Basically, the sites were between locations Downtown and on the East Side.”
Richardson was aided by 15 current and retired VA leaders from Washington, D.C., and other areas of the country who surveyed each potential site carefully.
“All agreed unanimously on Waterford Park,” Richardson said. “No stone was left unturned.”
Monday, January 04 2010
SANTA CLAUS, Ind. — The Voyage, the newest (2006) and largest of the three wooden roller coasters at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, is accustomed to being the top wooden coaster — three years in a row — among readers of Amusement Today trade journal, which covers the theme park industry.
But the Voyage has solidified its heavyweight standing by finishing No. 1 in a more complex online poll popular with hard-core coaster fans around the world.
The survey by coaster buff Mitch Hawker of Wisconsin ranks The Voyage No. 1 based on 730 online ballots received. Its formula determines winners and losers based on “mutual rider comparisons.”
First place came down to The Voyage and El Torro, the 181-foot-tall coaster at Six Flags Great America in New Jersey.
But 77 riders who had ridden them both preferred The Voyage while 67 preferred El Torro.
Holiday World’s two other wooden coasters, The Raven and The Legend, finished No. 18 and No. 38, respectively, in Hawker’s poll, high enough to make the Southern Indiana attraction the top theme park for wooden coasters.
Hawker said by regaining the top spot in 2009 (after finishing first twice before), The Voyage tied a record for most appearances at No. 1 set by Tonnerre de Zeus in France and Shivering Timbers in Michigan.
At the other end of the poll, the Grizzly in Santa Clara, Calif., made it 15 years in a row in last place.
Holiday World spokeswoman Paula Werne said, “We’re thrilled to see The Voyage take the No. 1 spot in the two most respected roller coaster polls out there.” She said it’s hoped recent improvements to make The Voyage an even smoother ride will keep it in the top spot for years to come.
— Rich Davis