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Saturday, March 27 2010

A recent report from the National Association of Realtors shows that existing home sales dipped slightly in February, partially due to winter storms.

Existing home sales went down 0.6 percent across the nation. At an annual rate, existing home sales were reported at 5.02 million for February, compared to the 5.05 million reported during the first month of the year.

Though sales were down on a month-to-month basis, they were still up 7 percent when compared to levels seen in February 2008. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, said that the decline in February was partially attributable to the rough weather seen in a number of areas in the country.

And though sales were up on a year-to-year basis and housing prices appear to be stabilizing, Yun said that a recovery in the industry is still "fragile at the moment."

One key may be a government tax credit that gives first time homebuyers up to $8,000 for the purchase of a property. The credit can also be received by repeat purchasers, though the cap on it is $6,500.

In order to take advantage of the credit, consumers must come to an agreement on a home purchase by April 30 and close by the end of June.

"If we see a surge in home buying comparable to last fall in the months leading up to the original tax credit deadline, then enough inventory should be absorbed to ensure a broad home price stabilization," Yun said.

Another factor that could play into the housing recovery is how mortgage rates react to the end of a Federal Reserve Board program that purchased mortgage-backed securities. The end of that effort comes as March closes, with some analysts thinking it will lead to an increased in home loan rates.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 19 2010

Realtors cite federal tax credit, very low interest rate.

The $6,500 federal tax credit for home-owners buying their next home is being credited for part of the upward movement in house prices in Vanderburgh and surrounding counties.

According to a report by the Evansville Area Association of Realtors, the sale price of single-family homes in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey and Gibson counties in January and February increased by 13.5 percent over the same period last year.

Chris Dickson, the association's president-elect, said he believes the tax credit brought out buyers for homes in the range of $150,000 to $250,000.

"There are more buyers in the market looking to take advantage of the federal tax incentives," said Dickson.

"The fact that average sale prices in 2010 are starting out strong, compared to 2009, also shows that the housing market in this area continues to rebound."

Dickson also attributed the increase in part to mortgage rates that remain at historic lows.

Bob Reid, president of the Realtors association, agreed.

He predicted March and April also will be strong as the April 30 deadline nears for the expiration of the $6,500 tax credit and for the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time home buyers.

"There's been no discussion about extending the credits," Reid said.

According to Reid, a person must sign a contract agreement to buy a house by April 30 and must close on the house purchase by June 30 to be eligible for the tax credits.

In January and February this year, the average house sale price in the four counties was $126,282, up from $111,603 in the same two months in 2009, according to the association report.

In Vanderburgh County, the average sale price for the two months rose 7.7 percent to $104,380.

The price was $96,849 for the same period in 2009.

Dickson said Warrick County had the biggest increase, rising by 15.59 percent to $186,818, compared with $161,148 in 2009.

The number of homes sold in the four-county area remained about the same: 341 sold the past two months compared with 343 for the same period last year.

The number of days it took to sell a house on average was 100 in January and February, compared with 110 in 2009.

Because of the increase in the average sale price, the overall volume rose 12.8 percent with more than $43.1 million in homes sold in January and February, compared with $38.2 million last January and February.

"Unfortunately," Dickson said, "many sellers are under the mistaken impression that the market is poor, so they are hesitant to put their homes on the market."

As a result, the number of homes available to buyers dropped to its lowest level in over two years, according to Dickson.

"We need more homes on the market to supply the buyer demand. ... Homes that are in good condition and priced well are selling."


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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.

    To be considered a first-time buyer by the IRS, you mustn’t have owned a home for the three years prior to your purchase. Longtime homeowners must’ve lived in their homes for five consecutive years during the past eight years. Revised rules apply to those who buy between Nov. 7, 2009, and April 30, 2010. Buyers who made purchases on or before Nov. 6, 2009, are covered under an older set of guidelines.


    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).

    While first-time buyers must enter into a binding contract to purchase a principal residence by April 30, the closing can take place as late as June 30, 2010. The home can’t cost more than $800,000.

    Qualifying purchases in 2009 can be claimed on your 2008 or 2009 return. File an amended return for 2008. Purchases in 2010 can be claimed on your 2009 or 2010 return. To get the credit for the 2009 tax year on a purchase that closes after April 15, 2010, either request an automatic filing extension or file an amended 2009 return.

    The first-time homebuyer tax credit is “refundable,” according to Ken Burstiner, a CPA at Weiser LLP in New York City. That means you can earn it even if you owe no federal tax, the credit exceeds your total tax liability, or you have little income. Claim the credit on IRS Form 5405, which should take less than an hour to fill out. It’s a good idea to consult a tax adviser. H&R Block’s average fee to prepare a tax return is $187.

    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.

    First-time buyers subject to the old rules face tighter income limit. The phase-out kicks in for joint filers when modified adjusted gross income hits $150,000 ($75,000 for individual taxpayers). It disappears entirely at $170,000 for joint filers ($95,000 for individuals). Married filing separately taxpayers can claim only up to half of the $8,000 credit.

    First-time buyers in 2008 were subject to a different tax-credit program. Homes purchased after April 8, 2008, and before Jan. 1, 2009, were eligible for a credit worth the lesser of $7,500 or 10% of the home’s purchase price. Income limits and phase-out ranges were the same as those for first-time buyers between Jan. 1, 2009, and Nov. 6, 2009.

    The biggest difference between 2008 and 2009 was that the tax credit in 2008 really functioned as an interest-free loan that must be paid back over 15 years. The first of the annual installments should come due on the 2010 tax return filed in 2011. With few exceptions, if your home ceases to be your main residence during those 15 years, you have to pay back the outstanding amount with the subsequent tax return.

    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.

    The same $800,000 cap on the purchase price applies to longtime homeowners, as do the same income restrictions. The credit begins to phase out for joint filers at modified adjusted gross income of $225,000 ($125,000 for individuals), and disappears at $245,000 ($145,000 for individuals). Married couples filing separately are eligible for up to half of the $6,500 credit.

    For both first-time and longtime buyers who want to claim the tax credit for a purchase made after Nov. 6, 2009, the IRS requires proof. Attach a copy of the settlement statement you received at closing to your return. You must be at least 18 years old.

    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.

    You won’t be eligible for the tax credit if you’re buying from a close relative. For example, if your mother goes into a nursing home and you buy her house from her, you can’t claim the credit. Close relatives include parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, your spouse, and your spouse’s family.

    This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but is not intended to be relied upon by readers as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Readers should consult a tax professional for such advice, and are reminded that tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.

    Richard J. Koreto, a freelance writer, is the former editor of several professional financial magazines and the author of “Run It Like a Business,” a practice management book for financial planners. He and his wife own a pre-Civil War house in Rockland County, N.Y

  • Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
    Wednesday, September 16 2009
    More than 40 percent of all home buyers in 2009 will qualify for the federal tax credit, costing the government about $15 billion, twice the original estimate, but most housing experts applaud the policy and favor expanding it.

    Now the decision is up to Congress.

    Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s, believes that the credit should be expanded to all homebuyers, even investors, through summer of 2010. “The risks of not doing something like this are too great,” he said. “I don’t think the coast is clear.”

    James Glassman of JPMorgan Chase also favors expanding the credit but continuing to limit it to first-time buyers.

    Industry members who are lobbying for the extension are optimistic and say they believe an extension will be approved in some form. “There will be a lot of water under the bridge, a lot of compromise, between now” and a final bill, said Richard A. Smith, chairman of the Business Roundtable’s Housing Working Group.

    Source: The New York Times, David Streitfeld (09/15/2009)
    Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 05:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
    Thursday, September 10 2009
    We trust you enjoyed a relaxing Labor Day weekend. I know we did.   The next two months will be busy in the real estate business. The $8,000 first time homebuyer’s tax credit is scheduled to Expire November 30th. There is very little time to complete purchases in time to take advantage of this program and we anticipate that title companies will be scrambling to accommodate closings scheduled for the end of November. 
    There have been some very positive articles recently about home sales nationally. Specifically pending contracts (a forward looking indicator) have increased for six consecutive months and are at their highest level since July of 2007. Although reviewing National information is fine, local statistics are much more important to your personal housing decisions. Locally, average sales price for all of 2008 was $119,301. This year through August average sales price is $117,390, a decline of only 1.6%. List price to sale price is also virtually unchanged from 95.61% for 2008 compared to 94.69% this year to date. These numbers suggest that prices have declined but only very slightly and that buyers who think they are going to buy homes at significant discounts from a couple of years ago will be disappointed. As we said last month sales and inventory levels in our local market remain remarkably consistent. Our market, although not booming, is still healthy. The best way to determine market value for your home is to compare it to recent sales of homes of similar condition and location. We would be happy to help you determine the market value of your home, just give us a call at 812-499-9234 or email at
    Things are going very well here at F. C. Tucker Emge Realtors and next month we will update you on some of the services we make available to our customers and clients.
    Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 04:03 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
    Thursday, August 27 2009

    New U.S. home data out Tuesday suggests the U.S. may be easing out of its 3-year housing slump.

    The U.S. home prices index is made up of home prices in the 20 largest U.S. cities, and while Evansville isn't one of them, an Evansville mortgage banker says home sales here are following suit.

    The for sale signs still litter neighborhoods, but the housing market is busy making its comeback.

    "We have definitely seen a big increase in the number of purchase transactions we're doing over the last few months," says Shannon Curry-Bartnick, President of Mortgage Masters.

    Curry-Bartnick says part of this "rise from the slump" comes as people's fears subside and they take advantage of the many incentives out there. The most talked about one being the 1st Time Home Buyer Credit.

    "It's a really great opportunity to get a tax credit back, get yourself into a new home, and right now, there are historically low interest rates," Curry-Bartnick explains.

    To be eligible, you either have to be a first time home buyer or have not owned a home in the last three years.

    The credit is worth ten percent of the home's value, up to $8,000.

    Home buyers have to close the deal by November 30th to get their credit.

    If you're anxious to take advantage of the first time home buyer credit, but have a less than stellar credit history, Curry-Bartnick says you're not completely out of luck.

    "There is more leniency there for things that may have happened in your past but that you may have remedied or overcome. You would potentially still be eligible," she explains. 

    In addition to the first time home buyers credit, Curry-Bartnick lists off dozens of other deals and loans that can save a buyer money.

    "There's the FHA loan, Rural Housing loans, VA loans, and conventional loans," she explains.

    Not to mention bank-owned and foreclosed upon homes coupled with low rates. Buyers can walk away with a steal.

    "We look at each person individually and find out what's well suited for their situation," Curry-Bartnick says.

    To find out what you qualify for, Curry-Bartnick recommends sitting down with a mortgage banker. She says consultations are typically free.

    But as NEWS 25 also learned, the Evansville housing market is not problem free, and there are hurdles that are keeping many deals from closing.

    NEWS 25 will investigate those hurdles in a follow up story Wednesday.


    Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
    Thursday, August 27 2009

    New U.S. home sales surged 9.6 percent in July, rising for the fourth straight month and beating expectations as the housing market marches steadily back from its historic downturn.

    The Commerce Department said Wednesday that sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000 from an upwardly revised June rate of 395,000. Sales are now up 32 percent from the bottom in January, but off 69 percent from the frenzied peak four years ago.

    Last month’s sales pace was the strongest since September and exceeded the forecasts of economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters, who expected a pace of 390,000 units. The last time sales rose so dramatically was in February 2005.

    The median sales price of $210,100, however, was still down 11.5 percent from $237,300 a year earlier.

    There were 271,000 new homes for sale at the end of July, down more than 3 percent from May. At the current sales pace, that represents 7.5 months of supply — the lowest since April 2007. The decline means builders have scaled back construction to the point where supply and demand are coming into balance.

    Buyers, meanwhile, are rushing to take advantage of a federal tax credit that covers 10 percent of the home price, or up to $8,000 for first-time owners. Home sales must be completed by the end of November for buyers to qualify.

    Builders and real estate agents are pressing Congress for that credit to be extended. If it isn’t, sales could reverse their upward trend.


    Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
    Monday, August 24 2009

    Bills to extend the maximum $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, which expires Nov. 30, are pending in both the U.S. House and the Senate.

    Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat and chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, is co-sponsor of a bill with Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson that would raise the credit amount to a maximum of $15,000.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid of Nevada favors an extension of the current credit. He was quoted by the Las Vegas Sun saying, "It's something we can get done."

    Odds are that the credit will be extended and broadened to cover all buyers next year, but the chances of the amount increasing aren’t as good, observers say.

    Source: Washington Post Writers Group, Kenneth R. Harney (08/22/2009)


    Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 01:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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