Archive for April, 2009

10 Ways to Make Your House More Salable

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

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1. Get rid of clutter. Throw out or file stacks of newspapers and magazines. Pack away most of your small decorative items. Store out-of-season clothing to make closets seem roomier. Clean out the garage.

2. Wash your windows and screens to let more light into the interior.

3. Keep everything extra clean. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates. Mop and wax floors. Clean the stove and refrigerator. A clean house makes a better first impression and convinces buyers that the home has been well cared for.

4. Get rid of smells. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Open the windows.

5. Put higher wattage bulbs in light sockets to make rooms seem brighter, especially basements and other dark rooms. Replace any burnt-out bulbs.

6. Make minor repairs that can create a bad impression. Small problems, such as sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or a dripping faucet, may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression that the house isn’t well maintained.

7. Tidy your yard. Cut the grass, rake the leaves, trim the bushes, and edge the walks. Put a pot or two of bright flowers near the entryway.

8. Patch holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable.

9. Clean your gutters.

10. Polish your front doorknob and door numbers.

2009 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit - Big Benefit for Housing Recovery

Friday, April 10th, 2009

On February 17, 2009  President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009.  A key component of this act is the First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit.   

The First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit provides for an $8,000 credit (or up to 10% of the purchase price) for first-time home buyers for the purchase of a principal residence on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009.  The credit does not have to be repaid*. The credit will be claimed on a tax return to reduce the purchaser’s income tax liability.  If any credit amount remains unused, then the unused amount will be refunded by check to the purchaser. An example would be; if a qualified buyer is entitled to a full $8,000 credit and owes $3,000 on their tax return they would receive a $5,000 rebate check from the government.

 

In order to qualify as a first time buyer you cannot have owned a house in the past three years.  The home purchase must be your principal residence for a minimum of 3 years to avoid recapture.  

*If the home is sold before 3 years the tax credit must be repaid. This provision is designed to prevent “flipping” houses in order to get the credit.

 

Another requirement to qualify for the tax credit are income levels (please see chart below for income limits) 

 

 

TYPE
INCOME LIMIT
PHASE OUT START
Single Filers
$95,000
$75,000
Married Filers
$170,000
$150,000

 

This means that for singles making over $75,000 and couples making over $150,000 the credit is proportionately reduced as incomes approach $95,000 and $170,000 repectively.  As an example if a couple makes $165,000 the excess amount is used to create a fraction.  $15,000/$20,000 (.75) times the credit amount. 75% or $6,000 of the credit would be disallowed.  The couple would get a $2,000 credit.

 

 

***As with any tax law change please check with your tax advisor for your particular credit allowance or tax law changes that may take place.  The above information is accurate as of February 19, 2009.

Town of Babylon Enhanced Down Payment Assistance Program

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Through the Town of Babylon’s Enhanced Down Payment Assistance Program, eligible homebuyers can a matching loan of $15,000 to be used towards the purchase of a home. 

 

ELIGIBILITY

(see Application & Instructions for full eligibility requirements)

 

Applicants must:

·     Be HUD-defined First-Time Homebuyers*

·     Have a Total Household Income between 80% and 120% of Area Median Income (see table below)

·     Occupy the purchased home as a principle residence

·     Not be in contract to purchase prior to the start of the program

·     Contribute $15,000 towards the down payment

·     Purchase a home within the Town of Babylon for up to $396,150

·     Participate in the Long Island Green Homes Program within six months of purchase

·     Sit for a one-time mortgage counseling session with the Long Island Housing Partnership

On April 1, 2009, the Department of Housing and Urban Development updated its annual income limits. New applicants must fall within these income limits to be eligible. The new limits for the Town of Babylon Next Generation Downpayment Assistance Program are:

 

2009 Income Guidelines 

 

Family Size

Minimum Total Household Income
(80% AMI)

Maximum Total Household Income
(120% AMI)

1

$57,001.00

$85,600.00

2

$65,151.00

$97,800.00

3

$73,301.00

$110,000.00

4

$81,451.00

$122,200.00

5

$87,951.00

$132,000.00

6

$94,451.00

$141,800.00

7

$101,001.00

$151,600.00

8

$107,501.00

$161,400.00

 

Note: The Town of Babylon Community Development Agency offers Down Payment Assistance for households earning up to and including 80% Area Median Income. For more information and an application please call the Town of Babylon CDA at 631-587-3752.

 

Applications, along with a $75 application fee and all required documentation, must be mailed to the Long Island Housing Partnership, 180 Oser Drive, Suite 800, Hauppauge, NY 11788.

* HUD-Defined First-time Homebuyers: An individual who has had no ownership in a principal residence during the 3-year period ending on the date of purchase of the property. This includes a spouse (if either meets the above test, they are considered first-time homebuyers), or, a single parent who has only owned with a former spouse while married, or, an individual who is a displaced homemaker and has only owned with a spouse, or, an individual who has only owned a principal residence not permanently affixed to a permanent foundation in accordance with applicable regulations, or an individual who has only owned a property that was not in compliance with State, local or model building codes and which cannot be brought into compliance for less than the cost of constructing a permanent structure.

The Price is Right - 78% of First-time Home Buyers Say Now Is Good Time to Buy

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

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  RISMEDIA, March 30, 2009-Century 21 Real Estate LLC, the franchisor of one of the world’s largest residential real estate sales organizations, announced the results of its recently commissioned first-time home buyer survey. The survey found that more than three-quarters (78%) of potential first-time home buyers say that now is a good time to buy a home, despite widespread concern about the economy. Out of the 1,000 prospective U.S. first-time home buyers surveyed for the CENTURY 21 First-Time Home Buyer Survey, 68% think now is a better time to buy than six months ago. Prices are the driving motivation for potential first-time home buyers with more than eight out of ten first-time home buyers (85%) saying they consider current home prices affordable and 73% citing that taking advantage of current prices is a major factor in their decision to buy. Interestingly, potential first-time buyers are still split between “being willing to consider an offer now” (42%) and “waiting for prices to go down before they seriously consider making a purchase” (48%).

“Current pricing, rates and incentives, such as the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, provide tremendous opportunities for first-time home buyers to get into the market,” said Tom Kunz, Century 21 Real Estate president and CEO. “Our research shows that while consumers still have concerns about the future of the economy, many are actively considering their options as we move into the spring selling season.”

Among the survey’s other key findings:

Bargains in the marketplace are providing additional options for buyers to consider. 56% of potential first-time home buyers are considering purchasing a foreclosed or short sale home, and 63% are open to purchasing either a “fixer-upper” or “as-is” home.

When asked to rate the features that they look for when choosing a home, price is the primary consideration with 87% saying this feature is “very important,” followed closely by neighborhood safety (80%) and the condition of the home (71%).

Having enough money for a down payment is a top concern for potential first-time home buyers as nearly half (46%) said they are “very worried” about the issue.

Most respondents (86%) are in the market for single family homes.

Available Government Incentives

In addition to affordable home prices and mortgage rates, the survey also showed strong interest in taking advantage of the recent government stimulus. More than three-quarters (77%) of potential first-time home buyers say they are more likely to buy a home in the next six months because of the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit offered in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Affordable Mortgage Rates

Perception about the lending market is a key concern for prospective first-time home buyers. Current mortgage rates are considered to be affordable by approximately three-quarters (72%) of respondents and 62% recognize that rates are lower than a year ago. However, 75% of potential first-time home buyers believe it is difficult to get a home loan right now and 74% think it is harder to get a loan now, than at the same time last year.

“Traditional mortgage investors, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA and VA, are receiving significant financial backing from the federal government, keeping interest rates low and mortgage funds available for qualified buyers,” said Marshall Gayden, senior vice president of Century 21 Mortgage®. “Home buyers who have a stable job history of at least two years, solid credit (620 and above) and down payment money that can be documented (3.5% on FHA loans) are well positioned to secure a mortgage in today’s credit environment.”

Understanding the Buying Process

Prospective first-time home buyers also indicate that there is a real need for someone who can provide accurate and reliable information while they look for a home. When asked about the real estate transaction process, more than half (59%) of potential buyers rated their understanding of the process as either “fair” or “poor.”

“Between home loans, the closing process and understanding the new government stimulus, real estate professionals play a vital role in working with first-time home buyers to help them navigate the current market,” said Kunz. “Every individual situation is different, and consumers should use their Realtor as a trusted advisor to seek opportunities, get educated on the process and make informed decisions.”

In addition, the survey asked potential buyers which factors are most relevant in their decision to choose a home:

First-Time Home Buyers’ Top Reasons for Buying (% saying major factor):

Taking advantage of current housing prices 73%                       

Moving to a bigger living space 60%
Having a more suitable place to start or raise family 56%        

Buying a home as an investment 47%

Moving to a better neighborhood 44%

Moving to a better location for work 28%

 


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