Tuesday, November 3, 2009

When will prices again approach the 2005-2006 peak?

Many sellers want to know how long would they need to wait to again see the prices of 2005-2006. Moody’s and Fiserv have actually studied this point. Here are the years that different states will probably return to those prices:

Before 2014
South Carolina
South Dakota
North Dakota

West Virginia
North Carolina
New Mexico

New York
New Hampshire
New Jersey
Rhode Island

After 2023

There are two ways to look at this data. First, if you are thinking of selling, sell now – don’t wait. The other point is, if you are buying this year, in 43 of the 50 states you could see a dramatic increase in value within ten years. I think this data can help both buyers and sellers make good decisions for themselves and their families.
What do you think?

Reposted from http://steveharneyblog.com/2009/10/06/when-will-prices-again-approach-the-2005-2006-peak/

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Short Sales The Time Has Come

For the last few years the joke has been that 'short sales' should be relabeled 'long sales' because of the difficulty in getting them closed. However, things just may be changing. Completed short sales in the first half of 2009 were up 208% over the first half of 2008.

It seems the banks are no longer happy with the alternatives they have been using in place of the short sale - either loan modification or foreclosure. A new study says that over 50% of successful modifications end up in default anyway within six months. The banks are also seeing that bringing a home through the foreclosure process nets them only a fraction of the price a short sale would.

Look for the administration, in the next few weeks, to announce a 'streamlined' short sale process that should make selling a short sale quicker and easier. We believe the banks will look favorably on the new process and that will lead to tremendous opportunities in 2010 for the agents willing to learn how to manage the expectations of the purchaser considering a home requiring a short sale.

Adapted from a recent report from Steve Harney, KeepingCurrentMatters.com

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First Time Buyers Credit Expireds Nov 30th

Here is the info straight from Federal Housing Tax Credit.com:

1.Who is eligible to claim the tax credit?
First-time home buyers purchasing any kind of home new or resale are eligible for the tax credit. To qualify for the tax credit, a home purchase must occur on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009. For the purposes of the tax credit, the purchase date is the date when closing occurs and the title to the property transfers to the home owner. A limited exception exists for certain contract for deed purchases and installment sale purchases. See the IRS website for more detail.
2.What is the definition of a first-time home buyer?
The law defines “first-time home buyer” as a buyer who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. For married taxpayers, the law tests the homeownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse.

For example, if you have not owned a home in the past three years but your spouse has owned a principal residence, neither you nor your spouse qualifies for the first-time home buyer tax credit. However, unmarried joint purchasers may allocate the credit amount to any buyer who qualifies as a first-time buyer, such as may occur if a parent jointly purchases a home with a son or daughter. Ownership of a vacation home or rental property not used as a principal residence does not disqualify a buyer as a first-time home buyer.

3.How is the amount of the tax credit determined?
The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000.
4.Are there any income limits for claiming the tax credit?
Yes. The income limit for single taxpayers is $75,000; the limit is $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. The tax credit amount is reduced for buyers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of more than $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. The phaseout range for the tax credit program is equal to $20,000. That is, the tax credit amount is reduced to zero for taxpayers with MAGI of more than $95,000 (single) or $170,000 (married) and is reduced proportionally for taxpayers with MAGIs between these amounts.
5.What is “modified adjusted gross income”?
Modified adjusted gross income or MAGI is defined by the IRS. To find it, a taxpayer must first determine “adjusted gross income” or AGI. AGI is total income for a year minus certain deductions (known as “adjustments” or “above-the-line deductions”), but before itemized deductions from Schedule A or personal exemptions are subtracted. On Forms 1040 and 1040A, AGI is the last number on page 1 and first number on page 2 of the form. For Form 1040-EZ, AGI appears on line 4 (as of 2007). Note that AGI includes all forms of income including wages, salaries, interest income, dividends and capital gains.

To determine modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), add to AGI certain amounts of foreign-earned income. See IRS Form 5405 for more details.

6.If my modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is above the limit, do I qualify for any tax credit?
Possibly. It depends on your income. Partial credits of less than $8,000 are available for some taxpayers whose MAGI exceeds the phaseout limits.
7.Can you give me an example of how the partial tax credit is determined?
Just as an example, assume that a married couple has a modified adjusted gross income of $160,000. The applicable phaseout to qualify for the tax credit is $150,000, and the couple is $10,000 over this amount. Dividing $10,000 by the phaseout range of $20,000 yields 0.5. When you subtract 0.5 from 1.0, the result is 0.5. To determine the amount of the partial first-time home buyer tax credit that is available to this couple, multiply $8,000 by 0.5. The result is $4,000.

Here’s another example: assume that an individual home buyer has a modified adjusted gross income of $88,000. The buyer’s income exceeds $75,000 by $13,000. Dividing $13,000 by the phaseout range of $20,000 yields 0.65. When you subtract 0.65 from 1.0, the result is 0.35. Multiplying $8,000 by 0.35 shows that the buyer is eligible for a partial tax credit of $2,800.

Please remember that these examples are intended to provide a general idea of how the tax credit might be applied in different circumstances. You should always consult your tax advisor for information relating to your specific circumstances.

8.How is this home buyer tax credit different from the tax credit that Congress enacted in July of 2008?
The most significant difference is that this tax credit does not have to be repaid. Because it had to be repaid, the previous “credit” was essentially an interest-free loan. This tax incentive is a true tax credit. However, home buyers must use the residence as a principal residence for at least three years or face recapture of the tax credit amount. Certain exceptions apply.
9.How do I claim the tax credit? Do I need to complete a form or application?
Participating in the tax credit program is easy. You claim the tax credit on your federal income tax return. Specifically, home buyers should complete IRS Form 5405 to determine their tax credit amount, and then claim this amount on line 67 of the 1040 income tax form for 2009 returns (line 69 of the 1040 income tax form for 2008 returns). No other applications or forms are required, and no pre-approval is necessary. However, you will want to be sure that you qualify for the credit under the income limits and first-time home buyer tests. Note that you cannot claim the credit on Form 5405 for an intended purchase for some future date; it must be a completed purchase.
10.What types of homes will qualify for the tax credit?
Any home that will be used as a principal residence will qualify for the credit. This includes single-family detached homes, attached homes like townhouses and condominiums, manufactured homes (also known as mobile homes) and houseboats. The definition of principal residence is identical to the one used to determine whether you may qualify for the $250,000 / $500,000 capital gain tax exclusion for principal residences.

It is important to note that you cannot purchase a home from your ancestors (parents, grandparents, etc.), your lineal descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.) or your spouse. Please consult with your tax advisor for more information. Also see IRS Form 5405.

11.I read that the tax credit is “refundable.” What does that mean?
The fact that the credit is refundable means that the home buyer credit can be claimed even if the taxpayer has little or no federal income tax liability to offset. Typically this involves the government sending the taxpayer a check for a portion or even all of the amount of the refundable tax credit.

For example, if a qualified home buyer expected, notwithstanding the tax credit, federal income tax liability of $5,000 and had tax withholding of $4,000 for the year, then without the tax credit the taxpayer would owe the IRS $1,000 on April 15th. Suppose now that the taxpayer qualified for the $8,000 home buyer tax credit. As a result, the taxpayer would receive a check for $7,000 ($8,000 minus the $1,000 owed).

12.I purchased a home in early 2009 and have already filed to receive the $7,500 tax credit on my 2008 tax returns. How can I claim the new $8,000 tax credit instead?
Home buyers in this situation may file an amended 2008 tax return with a 1040X form. You should consult with a tax advisor to ensure you file this return properly.
13.Instead of buying a new home from a home builder, I hired a contractor to construct a home on a lot that I already own. Do I still qualify for the tax credit?
Yes. For the purposes of the home buyer tax credit, a principal residence that is constructed by the home owner is treated by the tax code as having been “purchased” on the date the owner first occupies the house. In this situation, the date of first occupancy must be on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009.

In contrast, for newly-constructed homes bought from a home builder, eligibility for the tax credit is determined by the settlement date.

14.Can I claim the tax credit if I finance the purchase of my home under a mortgage revenue bond (MRB) program?
Yes. The tax credit can be combined with the MRB home buyer program. Note that first-time home buyers who purchased a home in 2008 may not claim the tax credit if they are participating in an MRB program.
15.I live in the District of Columbia. Can I claim both the Washington, D.C. first-time home buyer credit and this new credit?
No. You can claim only one.
16.I am not a U.S. citizen. Can I claim the tax credit?
Maybe. Anyone who is not a nonresident alien (as defined by the IRS), who has not owned a principal residence in the previous three years and who meets the income limits test may claim the tax credit for a qualified home purchase. The IRS provides a definition of “nonresident alien” in IRS Publication 519.
17.Is a tax credit the same as a tax deduction?
No. A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in what the taxpayer owes. That means that a taxpayer who owes $8,000 in income taxes and who receives an $8,000 tax credit would owe nothing to the IRS.

A tax deduction is subtracted from the amount of income that is taxed. Using the same example, assume the taxpayer is in the 15 percent tax bracket and owes $8,000 in income taxes. If the taxpayer receives an $8,000 deduction, the taxpayer’s tax liability would be reduced by $1,200 (15 percent of $8,000), or lowered from $8,000 to $6,800.

18.I bought a home in 2008. Do I qualify for this credit?
No, but if you purchased your first home between April 9, 2008 and January 1, 2009, you may qualify for a different tax credit. Please consult with your tax advisor for more information.
19.Is there any way for a home buyer to access the money allocable to the credit sooner than waiting to file their 2009 tax return?
Yes. Prospective home buyers who believe they qualify for the tax credit are permitted to reduce their income tax withholding. Reducing tax withholding (up to the amount of the credit) will enable the buyer to accumulate cash by raising his/her take home pay. This money can then be applied to the downpayment.

Buyers should adjust their withholding amount on their W-4 via their employer or through their quarterly estimated tax payment. IRS Publication 919 contains rules and guidelines for income tax withholding. Prospective home buyers should note that if income tax withholding is reduced and the tax credit qualified purchase does not occur, then the individual would be liable for repayment to the IRS of income tax and possible interest charges and penalties.

In addition, rule changes made as part of the economic stimulus legislation allow home buyers to claim the tax credit and participate in a program financed by tax-exempt bonds. As a result, some state housing finance agencies have introduced programs that provide short-term second mortgage loans that may be used to fund a downpayment. Prospective home buyers should check with their state housing finance agency to see if such a program is available in their community. To date, 14 state agencies have announced tax credit assistance programs, and more are expected to follow suit. The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) has compiled a list of such programs, which can be found here.

20.The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development has announced that HUD will allow “monetization” of the tax credit. What does that mean?
It means that HUD will allow buyers using FHA-insured mortgages to apply their anticipated tax credit toward their home purchase immediately rather than waiting until they file their 2009 income taxes to receive a refund. These funds may be used for certain downpayment and closing cost expenses.

Under the guidelines announced by HUD, non-profits and FHA-approved lenders will be allowed to give home buyers short-term loans of up to $8,000.

The guidelines also allow government agencies, such as state housing finance agencies, to facilitate home sales by providing longer term loans secured by second mortgages.

Housing finance agencies and other government entities may also issue tax credit loans, which home buyers may use to satisfy the FHA 3.5 percent downpayment requirement.

In addition, approved FHA lenders will also be able to purchase a home buyer’s anticipated tax credit to pay closing costs and downpayment costs above the 3.5 percent downpayment that is required for FHA-insured homes.

More information about the guidelines is available on the NAHB web site. Read the HUD mortgagee letter (pdf) and an explanation of the FHA Mortgagee Letter on Tax Credit Monetization (pdf). An FAQ about monetization (pdf) is available at the NAHB web site.

21.If I’m qualified for the tax credit and buy a home in 2009, can I apply the tax credit against my 2008 tax return?
Yes. The law allows taxpayers to choose (”elect”) to treat qualified home purchases in 2009 as if the purchase occurred on December 31, 2008. This means that the 2008 income limit (MAGI) applies and the election accelerates when the credit can be claimed (tax filing for 2008 returns instead of for 2009 returns). A benefit of this election is that a home buyer in 2009 will know their 2008 MAGI with certainty, thereby helping the buyer know whether the income limit will reduce their credit amount.

Taxpayers buying a home who wish to claim it on their 2008 tax return, but who have already submitted their 2008 return to the IRS, may file an amended 2008 return claiming the tax credit. You should consult with a tax professional to determine how to arrange this.

22.For a home purchase in 2009, can I choose whether to treat the purchase as occurring in 2008 or 2009, depending on in which year my credit amount is the largest?
Yes. If the applicable income phaseout would reduce your home buyer tax credit amount in 2009 and a larger credit would be available using the 2008 MAGI amounts, then you can choose the year that yields the largest credit amount.

Reposted from the campus blog, Tim Harris, http://HarrisRealEstateUniversity.com/index.php?w=1d68e

Housing…Is The Worst Finally Over?

Is the housing bust over?

Expect many conflicting news reports over the next few months about this topic. THE most important issues facing housing are the simple fact that the banks are ‘holding onto’ 5,000,000 homes that will be listed (as REOs). How big is that? NATIONALLY, right now there are roughly 4,000,000 homes for sale. Yes, you read that correctly…the number of homes for sale is going to more thna double.

Next, add the expected rising defaults due to the ALT-As resetting….the effects of economy…..and the big one…Commercial Real Estate. The FDIC has 100’s of banks on their ‘Watch Lists’. Starting late this month look for more reports on bank failures due to commercial loan defaults. Our commercial broker coaching clients have been telling us that the commercial problem is going to be far bigger…far more significant than what is being reported.

Bottom line, be prepared.

First some good news:

Home starts have risen for five straight months, while sales of new homes recently hit their highest level since last September. Prices are up as well: the Case-Shiller index of national house prices rose 2.9% in the second quarter, ending a three-year decline.

These signs — as well as anecdotal reports about house shoppers growing more willing to write a deposit check — have executives at homebuilding firms declaring the worst is over.

“We believe declining cancellations and more solid demand indicate that the housing market is stabilizing,” Toll Brothers chief executive officer Bob Toll said this month in a conference call with investors and analysts.

And now, the bad news:

Housing boosters have forecast turnarounds repeatedly since the market peaked in 2006, only to be proved wrong by plunging prices. And skeptics say they’re wrong again now.

They argue that a deeply indebted consumer, a weak job market, expiring incentives and rising foreclosures spell a quick end to any housing rebound.

“We’re entering the phase where the homeowner has to earn his way out of this mess,” said Mark Hanson, who runs a California real estate research firm. “This summer is shaping up as the gateway into the next move down.”

Sales shift
Hanson attributes the much-ballyhooed recent house price gains to a shift in the types of properties changing hands. Earlier this year, as many as half of all transactions nationally were resales of foreclosed properties, largely at low prices.

Since then, so-called organic sales (those not involving distressed properties) have risen while foreclosure sales have remained stable. This improved mix — together with cheap financing and a couple of popular tax incentives — helped to revive prices in some hard-hit areas.

But with schools opening up again and the summer home-selling season winding down, sales by nondistressed sellers are likely to fall in coming months, Hanson said.

Adding to the pressure on prices, the end is in sight (or already here) for some popular housing subsidies. An $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time home buyers is due to sunset in December.Prime problems

Another concern is that the housing woes appear to be spreading well beyond the questionable borrowers who were at the center of the first stage of the financial crisis.

Reposted from the campus blog, Tim Harris, http://HarrisRealEstateUniversity.com/index.php?w=1d68e