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All the talk among Realtor’s, Mortgage Brokers, Investor’s and first time home buyers is about whether or not the first time home buyer $8,000 tax credit will be extened past May 1, 2010.  Everyone working in Real Estate has enjoyed the surge of sales this tax credit has provided during the past several months. 

It appears certain that the $8,000 First Time Home Buyers tax credit will not be extended past May 1, 2010.  Everyone is wondering what the impact will be while enjoying the final surge of people buying during this last week of April.  Mortgage Brokers and Realtor’s are secretly asking one another what will happen next to the real estate market. 

I am an investor and from my perspective we are still working right in the heart of the Perfect Storm caused by the glut of distressed properties on the market.  Never before has there been such a transfer of real estate wealth caused by the greed of Wall Street.  Today’s home buyers can purchase property as if shopping at Macy’s inventory reduction sale.  Just like finding your favorite clothes marked down 30%, homes can readily be purchased at sharp discounts in most markets across America.   I expect to continue to see some strong movement in the real estate market for the coming months due to the incredible deals that are readily available to home buyers.

The second reason I believe the market will stay strong for several months is the second condition of this perfect storm.  Very low interest rates.  With decent credit home buyers are still financing homes with interest rates in the low 5% range.  In fact we have a closing on a home that was purchased from us scheduled to close may 7th and the borrower qualified for a rate of 4-1/8%.  The very low interest rates will not last forever and the fact is they worth far more than the $8,000 tax credit, assuming the average American spends the $8,000 and does not re-invest it for a profit over the next 15 years.

The third reason I believe the market will stay strong for a while is the wide availability of grants.  In Virginia where I live, and in many states across our nation there are many grants still available to first time home buyers.  We recently sold another home in Virginia where the borrower qualified for a $10,000 grant.  Again, that grant exceeds to return of the $8,000 tax credit.

The good news is that I believe homes will continue to sell for the next several months.  The key to your sales is the same as always:

1.  Property condition:  There are a lot of homes still on the market; to make yours stand out from the others be sure it is 100% clean, clutter free and well maintained inside and outside.  Be sure the outdoor space is appealing with a well cut lawn, mulched flower beds and trimmed bushes.

2.  Marketing:  The majority of home buyers begin their search on-line.  Be sure that your home is marketed heavily on the internet.  You should be sure to have your home listed onto the MLS either list it yourself with a great flat fee MLS listing service such as http://www.justlistem.com or find a strong realtor.  Your home should be listed on craigslist, zillow and trulia along with the MLS.  In addition to internet marketing and the MLS, be sure you have a property flyer along side a great for sale sign that is easily read when people are driving by your home.

3.  Price:  In this market you need to consider your listing price carefully.  Take time to review the comparables of recent homes sold in your neighborhood, speak to a strong Realtor or simply have it appraised.  You will want to price your home competetively and be sure to offer the new Buyer assistance with their closing costs to make it easy for them to purchase your home.

Sit back, relax and enjoy this perfect storm.  There should continue to be strong sales for the next several months due to low interest rates, readily available grant funds and the continued great opportunities to buy.

What do you think the impact of no longer having the $8,000 first time home buyers tax rebate will be?  Leave me your opinions in the comments.  I would love to know your thoughts.

In November 2009 President Obama has signed the extension of the first time home buyers $8,000 tax rebate. President Obama also has signed an expansion of the original plan. The expansion provides a $6,500 tax rebate for qualified buyers who already own their own home. Both will be in effect until April 30, 2010. The provisions are providing a tremendous opportunity for homeowners as a huge incentive for buying a home. The new extension and expansion has created a sense of urgency for those buying homes. According to Mark Sauers, Assistant Vice President with Sun Trust Mortgage

“The only thing i would say is that if history teaches us any lessons we should move forward sooner rather than later. April 30 will be here before we know it. I really do not expect any further extensions beyond this”

The following guide will simplify the qualification process for homeowners looking to take advantage of the home buyer tax credit.

    $6,500 Tax Credit for trade-up buyers who already own their own home:

1. Income qualifications: Single taxpayer incomes must not exceed $125,000 and married couples income can not exceed $225,000

2. Purchase date qualifications: Purchase must be after November 6, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010.

3. Ownership qualification: Buyers must have lived in their previous home for five consecutive out of the past eight years. The purchase price of the new home can not exceed $800,000 and the new home must be a personal residence (non investment or non-owner occupied).

The total tax rebate is equal to 10% of the purchase price, up to a total of $6,500 and does not need to be repaid back to the Government.

    $8,000 First time home buyer tax credit:

1. Income qualification: Single tax payer income can not exceed $125,000 and couples filing jointly can not exceed $225,000

2. Purchase date qualification: All sales that occur between January 1, 2009 and April 30, 2010

3. Buyer qualification: Anyone who has not owned their own home during the previous three years prior to current purchase

The tax rebate is available for 10% of the purchase price of the home with a maximum of $8,000 and can not be used on a home that is over $800,000. Really now, how many first time home buyers can afford an $800,000 home?

first time home buyers rebate expanded and extendedPresident Obama has signed the bill to extend and expand the home buyer tax rebate.  First time home buyers have been enjoying the $8,000 tax credit since it was signed in early 2009.  The first time home buyers tax rebate was set to expire on November 30, 2009 but now it has been extended to all houses put under contract before April 30, 2010.

Along with the extension President Obama signed an expansion of the original tax credit.  The expansion allows many homeowners, who purchase a new primary residence home, to enjoy a $6,500 refund.  Homeowners are eligible for the $6,500 if they have lived in their home for five consecutive years out of the past eight years.   The earnings income limit for receiving the tax credit are $125,000 for individual and $225,000 for a couple.  The new purchase does not need to cost more than the original purchase and here is an example of how the 5 out 8 consecutive year residency should apply:

Renting scenario:  If you previously owned your home for the five consecutive of previous 8 years, then sold it and chose to rent a different home you would become eligible to purchase a home and receive the rebate. Please contact your cpa or tax specialist to be certain of your situation.

Divorce scenario:  If you and your spouse lived together for five consecutive out of the past eight years, got divorced and went your own paths but did not repurchase a new home you would then potentially be eligible for the $6,500 tax credit.  Please be sure to contact your cpa or tax specialist to be certain of your situation.

It is estimated that approximately 2 million home buyers will take advantage of the tax rebate this year and that this tax credit could pump more than $20 Billion into our general economy.  The hopes of our Government leaders is that it will ultimately lead to a sharp rise in home sales and ultimately help lead to a stabilization in the overall market and economy.

Extending the tax rebate will help to continue to give a great incentive to first time home buyers nationwide.  The expansion is expected to lead to greater sales in the “Trade-up” category where home owners move up to a more expensive home to take advantage of this offer.

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Nearly 1.5 Million people have taken advantage of the $8,000 tax rebate since it’s conception in January 2009. The tax credit has been available to all first time home buyers. The first time home buyer is defined as anyone who has now owned their own home for three consecutive years. Oh, one more criteria for eligibility… It must be for your primary residence which is unfortunate for investors. The credit is in the form of a tax rebate for 10% of the purchase price of the home, up to a total of $8,000. One of the great benefits of the tax rebate is that is FULLY refundable to the buyer. For instance if the first time home buyer owed no taxes on their taxes, then the first time home buyer can ammend their tax return and capture the full $8,000.

The tax rebate has helped improve the national home sales. The current tax rebate is set to expire on November 30, 2009.  This means that the purchase must be fully closed and completed in order to qualify. It typically takes approximately 30 days to close on a home transaction with conventional bank financing. The point is that in order to be confident your purchase will qualify you should plan to be under contract to purchase your home by November 1, 2009. If you are trying to capture the $8,000 tax rebate and have not yet put your home under contract or you dont qualify for conventional financing then you need to consider finding an alternate approach. One alternate approach is to find seller financing. If the seller is providing the financing and you do not need to wait the typical 30 days for bank financing, then you can still close by December 1, 2009 without many challenges.

What about the possibility of extending the rebate past December 1, 2009?   There are currently several bills  in Congress that would allow the extension. Each of the bills in Congress provide alternate solutions toward the extension. Of course there is a lot of politics involved in completing the extension, from all poitical parties. Here is a brief summary of the extensions:

S1230:  Senator Johnny Isakson  introduced Senate Bill 1230 in June.  The Bill proposes a tax credit up to $15,000 that can be split over 2 year for everyone who purchases a home for their personal residence.

HR 2619:    This one  proposes to extend the existing $8,000 tax credit to July 1, 2010 and adds provisions for a tax credit of up to $3,000 for homeowners who refinance.  This would certainly create a ton of refinanes.  Is this part of the recent mortgage issue?  Many Americans seem to use their home equity as an ATM machine, pulling it out and spending it.  I guess that would potentially help spur the ecomony in the short term.

HR 2801 – Similar to S1230 but it extends benefits to January 1, 2011.

Several key politicians are publicly making comments about getting the extension approved by early November.  Those making positive comments include Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus.  They are hoping to extend the rebate along with unemployment benefits at the same time. 

One thing for sure is our current Government is committed to spending an unlimited amount to try and stimulate our ecomony.  Our Leaders appear to be committed to short term gains at the expense of future generations.  That said, extending the first time home buyer credit will certainly help encourage American’s to own their own home. 

What do you think?  Should the first time home buyers credit be extended?  Why or Why Not?  What are the short term benefits and long liabilities associated with this extension?  I would like to hear your viewpoints so please leave some comments.

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This blog post is courtesy of Just List ‘Em: a Flat Fee MLS real estate company geared towards helping YOU sell YOUR home.
We love them. You should too.

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Although we do business in many parts of the country, one of our featured locations right now is the Windy City: Chicago, Illinois. Right now, the housing market in Chicago is on the upturn and really beginning to boom.

The Chicago market is UP, just like the Spyre.

The Chicago market is UP, just like the Spire.

Do you live in Chicago? Are you looking to move and/or relocate altogether? Are you IN Chicago looking to sell your home, townhouse, loft, or condo? Looking to purchase property in and around the city? Now is the time to really get the ball rolling.

Are you a sports fan? If so, then you probably like stats. Here are some recent Chicago housing market statistics:

  • The Illinois Association of Realtors reported that home sales in Chicago were UP 40.6% in March over February. 
  • There were 840 homes sold in February of 2009. There were 1,181 homes sold in March of 2009.
  • The median price for a home/condo in March of 2009 was $220,000. This is an increase of 0.8% from February 2009 where the median price was $218,125.

Now, let’s crunch numbers. If you sold your home with a realtor at the median price of $220,000, you would pay, on average, $6,600 just in listing commission. If you sold your home through Just List ‘Em, you would pay the $299 flat fee to list your home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). That is an average savings of $6,300!

So the truth is, the Chicago market is almost hotter right now than Susan Boyle. Ultimately, why is that? Well, a few reasons.

  1. The $8,000 first-time-home-buyers tax credit. This is quite possibly one of the most important catalysts for the upturn of the housing market right now. This tax credit, included in the final version of the stimulus bill passed in February 2009, goes to ALL first-time-home-buyers. It will not be taxed and it does NOT have to be repaid. It is, in essence, $8,000 handed to you by the government. (It will show up when you file your 2009 tax return). So, because of this awesome financial opportunity, many potential home buyers who were on the fence about purchasing in 2009 have now been persuaded to the other side and are jumping at the chance to buy a home. ESPECIALLY in and around the Chicacgo-metro area.
  2. Short Sales & Foreclosures. A short sale is essentially the stage in which a home is on the verge of foreclosure and the seller REALLY wants to sell the house but no one is buying. A lender would rather list is as a short sale, sell the home at a very low price and lose a little money versus listing it and having it on the books as a foreclosure. Therefore, short sales are extremely attractive to buyers because buyers can save a TON of money on a potentially awesome property. Foreclosures are also attractive in that a buyer can save an estimated 10%-30% on the actual price of the property. In some cases, buyers can buy a great home and pay less than the tax value on it at closing. Now THAT is a deal! Just be wary when purchasing a short sale or foreclosed home, as these homes can come with a serious need for repair. And when in doubt, always speak with a real estate professional and get their advice.
  3. Record low mortgage rates. According to BankRate.com, the average rate for a 30-year-fixes mortgage in Chicago is at 4.93% today, even down .03% just this week! And that percentage is still dropping. These mortgage rates are astonishingly low and make for an incredible money-saving opportunity for buyers. This is below the national average and significantly lower than the mortgage rates in past years. What does this mean, exactly? Well, when you buy a house, just like you would a car, you are going to pay interest on that item. The lower the mortgage rate, the less money you pay. The less money you pay, the more money you save. Awesome. RIGHT?

These three things create a powerful housing market in Chicago and really encourages buyers to buy and sellers to sell. If you want to sell your home, now is the time. Just like a pendulum, the market goes back and forth. It’s almost like playing double dutch. You have to jump in at the right moment or you might miss your opportunity.

Don’t forget though, if you are looking to sell your home in Chicago, don’t go through a traditional realtor or broker. Sell your home with us! Just List ‘Em. We will list your home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) for a flat fee and we guarantee we will sell you home quickly and efficiently and save you THOUSANDS of dollars on commission. That means more money in your pockets and big smiles on your faces.

-Jim Ingersoll

Jim Ingersoll

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