Home Resales Boom Into The End Of The Tax Credit; Home Values Seen Rising.

Existing Home Sales Mar 2008-Mar 2010Existing Home Sales rose in March, as expected. U.S. home buyers closed on 7 percent more homes as compared to February.

Furthermore, versus March 2009 — a month many people equate to the low point of the U.S. economy — sales volume was up 16 percent.

“Existing home sale” is the technical term for a home resale; a home previously inhabited by a person.  It’s the opposite of a “new home sale” which is a sale of a newly-constructed home.

Existing Homes Data is tracked by the National Association of Realtors® and a closer look at the March data reveals some other interesting notes:

  1. Year-over-year sales are higher for the 9th straight month
  2. Real estate investors represented 19 percent of all homes purchased
  3. First-time home buyers account for 44 percent of all buyers

Also worth noting is that the supply of available homes is down on a broader basis.  At the current rate of sales, the existing home inventory will be exhausted in 8 months.

Despite banks releasing foreclosures and REO into the market, that’s still one half-month less from February.

When supplies drops, home prices tend to rise. It suggests an underlying strength in housing that should support home prices through the next few months — especially as the home buyer tax credit finishes working its way through the system.

That said, real estate markets are local. You shouldn’t assume that what’s happening on the national level is also happening here at home.  Be sure to check with your real estate agent about local market conditions before making a decision to buy or sell.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Fight Your Real Estate Property Tax Bill Without A Lawyer


More than 60 percent of U.S. homes are “over-assessed”, says an industry trade group. Homeowners pay more in property taxes than they otherwise should have to.  You might be one of them.

Have you considered fighting your real estate tax bill?

In this 4-minute piece from The Today Show, you’ll learn:

  • When to file your tax bill dispute for the best chances of winning
  • How to pull your “property card” and check for tax bill-raising errors
  • What to do if the taxing authority turns down your request

Most importantly, you’ll learn that you don’t need to hire an attorney to fight your tax bill.  You just need to be prepared.  Do your research and make your case. It’s estimated that nearly half of all contesting homeowners are successful.

In Marin County, if you don’t agree with the assessed valuation of your property, you  are welcome to call the assessor’s office at 499-7215 to ask for a review, or visit www.co.marin.ca.us and click on the link for the assessor’s department.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Claim Up to $18,000 in Combined Homebuyer Tax Credits for a Limited Time!

 

California is poised to launch a new tax credit of up to $10,000 on May 1, 2010 to help buyers get off the fence. Championed by Gov. Schwarzenegger, the $200 million program, $100 million for the First Time Buyer Credit and $100 million for the New Home Credit, is expected to keep sales moving along post spring-selling season. 

As a result of this new program, home buyers in California have a brief window of opportunity to benefit from up to $18,000 in combined federal and state homebuyer tax credits.  Given the first-come, first-serve allocation of the state credit, the fortunate homebuyers who successfully “double-dip” will likely consume an important piece of the state credit.  Time should not be wasted, and all bets will be off on May 1 when applications can be faxed in.  Credit Suisse builder analyst Dan Oppenheim estimates the tax credit will benefit about 14,000 new-home buyers, lasting as long as four to five months.

To take advantage of both tax credits, a first-time homebuyer must:

  1. Enter into a purchase contract for a principal residence before May 1, 2010 (deadline for Federal Tax Credit of up to $8,000) and
  2. Close escrow between May 1, 2010 and June 30, 2010, inclusive, (for the California Tax Credit of up to $10,000).

Buyers who are not first-time homebuyers may use the same timeframes to receive up to $16,500 in combined tax credits, i.e. $6,500 Federal Move-up/Repeat Home Buyer Tax Credit and $10,000  California Tax Credit.

FEDERAL TAX CREDIT:

How it works:

1.    Timeframe: Under the federal law slated to expire on April 30, 2010, a first-time homebuyer may receive up to $8,000 in tax credits, and a long-time homeowner may receive up to $6,500, for certain purchase contracts entered into by April 30, 2010 that close escrow by June 30, 2010. 

2.   Who qualifies:          
        a. First-Time Homebuyers (FTHBs): First-time homebuyers (that is, people who have not owned a home within the last three years) may be eligible for the First Time Homebuyer tax credit. The credit for FTHBs is 10% of the purchase price of the home, with a maximum available credit of $8,000.

        b. Current Owners: The tax credit program gives those who already own a residence some additional reasons to move to a new home. This incentive comes in the form of a tax credit of up to $6,500 for qualified purchasers who have owned and occupied a primary residence for five consecutive years during the last eight years.

Single taxpayers and married couples filing a joint return may qualify for the full tax credit amount.

3.   Income Caps: The amount of income someone can earn and qualify for the full amount of the credit is as follows:

       a. Single tax filers who earn up to $125,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, single filers who earn $145,000 and above are ineligible

       b. Joint filers who earn up to $225,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, joint filers who earn $245,000 and above are ineligible.

4.  Maximum Purchase Price: Qualifying buyers may purchase a property with a maximum sale price of $800,000.

5.  How to Claim the Tax Credit: You claim the tax credit on your federal income tax return.

6.  Tax Credit vs. Tax Deduction: It’s important to understand that the tax credit is just that… a tax credit. The benefit of a tax credit is that it’s a dollar-for-dollar tax reduction, rather than a reduction in your taxable income that would only save you $1,000 to $1,500 when all was said and done. Let’s look at an example: if a first-time homebuyer were to owe $8,000 in income taxes and would qualify for a tax credit of $8,000, she would owe nothing.

Better still, the tax credit is refundable, which means the homebuyer can receive a check for the credit if he or she has little income tax liability. For example, if a first-time homebuyer is eligible for a tax credit of $8,000 but is liable for $4,000 in income tax, she can still receive a check for the remaining $4,000!

For more information about the Federal Tax Credit, please visit the  Federal Housing Tax Credit website.    The Frequently Asked Questions Page of the Federal Tax Credit Website is a particularly useful resource.

 CALIFORNIA TAX CREDIT:

Under the newly enacted California law, the legislation has allocated $200 million for more state tax credits—twice what was offered last year to 10,659 buyers of new, unoccupied homes.  Under the newest housing stimulus, a homebuyer may receive up to $10,000 in tax credits as follows:

1.    Timeframe:  

        a.    These tax credits are available for taxpayers who purchase a qualified principal residence on or after May 1, 2010, and before January 1, 2011. The purchase date is defined as the date escrow closes. Taxpayers may apply for the tax credits if they have entered into a contract before May 1, 2010, as long as escrow closes on or after May 1, 2010. 

        b.    Additionally, these tax credits are available for taxpayers who purchase a qualified principal residence on or after December 31, 2010, and before August 1, 2011, pursuant to an enforceable contract executed on or before December 31, 2010

 2. Who qualifies:

      a. New Home Credit: Any home buyer (whether that buyer is or is not a first-time homebuyer) of a property that has never been occupied. 

       b.    First Time Buyer Credit: A first time buyer of an existing home.

3.   Limitations: These tax credits are limited to the lesser of 5 percent of the purchase price or $10,000 for a qualified principal residence. Taxpayers must apply the total tax credit in equal amounts over 3 successive tax years (maximum of $3,333 per year) beginning with the tax year in which the home is purchased.

4.    Applications: Applications will be accepted by fax only beginning May 1, 2010 and will be made available by May 1, 2010. 

5.    Reservations: Taxpayers who qualify for the New Home Credit may, but are not required to, reserve a tax credit prior to the close of escrow. Reservations will become important, as the program nears the $100 million cap, for homes that may not close escrow before the cap is reached. The reservation will “hold the taxpayer’s place in line” until 2 weeks after escrow closes.

6.   Claiming the tax credit:

  • The taxpayer must receive a Certificate of Allocation from us to claim the tax credit on their California personal income tax return. The Certificate of Allocation will state the maximum amount the taxpayer can claim listed by tax year.
  • The taxpayer should refer to the 2010 New Home / First-Time Buyer Credit Publication for instructions on claiming the tax credit (the publication will be available by December, 2010).
  • Special rules apply to married/RDP taxpayers filing separately, in which case each spouse/RDP is entitled to one-half of the tax credit, even if their ownership percentages are not equal. For 2 or more taxpayers who are not married/RDP, the tax credit amount will have already been allocated to each taxpayer occupying the residence on their respective tax credit allocation letter.
  • If the available tax credit exceeds the current year net tax, the unused tax credit may not be carried over to the following tax year.
  • The tax credit may not reduce regular tax below TMT.
  • The tax credit is not refundable.
  • Any disallowance of the tax credit may not be protested or appealed.

For more information, please visit the 2010 Tax Credit for New Home/First Time Buyer State of California Franchise Tax Board Webpage  or contact the California Franchise Tax Board at 
888.792.4900 (press 1) or 916.845.4900 (not toll-free)

Email: wscs.gen@ftb.ca.gov.  Please note that this is not a secure email address and make sure you do not send confidential information.

Feel free to contact me at 415-464-3410 with any question about these programs or contact your tax advisor directly.

 

 


Presale Inspections for Smoother Sales

Could not agree more!  This is a well written post about the benefits of getting a presale inspection before putting your house on the market. 

I has been my practice to have my sellers get a presale inspection.  The buyers generally still have their own inspection of the property, but the presale inspection allows the sellers to have control.  The buyer is not the one telling them about issues with their home once they are already in contract.  

Read the full post: Presale inspections for smoother sales | Inman News.


How To Buy Bank-Owned Homes In A Period Of Rising Inventory

Foreclosures concentrate on 4 statesForeclosure filings rose close to 20 percent nationwide last month versus February, according to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac.com, and for the 13th straight month, total filings topped 300,000.

In addition, bank repossessions reached an all-time, quarterly record. Through the first three months of 2010, banks reclaimed more than 257,000 homes.

Nonetheless, 4 states dominated foreclosure activity nationwide.

California, Florida, Arizona and Georgia accounted for more than half of all bank repossessions. It’s a disproportionate distribution of foreclosures. Together, the 4 states represent just 23 percent of the overall U.S. population.

The RealtyTrac report revealed some other interesting statistics, too.

  • Foreclosure activity was up in 40 out of 50 states last month
  • Bank repossessions rose 9 percent versus the same quarter last year
  • For the 13th straight quarter, Nevada topped the state foreclosure rate

Regardless of where you’re buying, foreclosures and REO are making a profound impact on pricing and product. Distressed homes are 35 percent of the overall resale market.

There’s excellent value in foreclosures out there if you know where to look, but keep these points in mind:

  1. Buying bank-owned homes can take 120 days to close or more. Be flexible.
  2. Foreclosures aren’t always listed for sale publicly. Some inventory is privately-held.
  3. Bank-owned homes are often sold “as is”. There may be defects that render the homes mortgage-ineligible.

The REO market can be different from the traditional “existing home” market.  Therefore, if you have an interest in buying REO, be sure to talk with an experienced real estate agent first.

Feel free to call me with any questions about REO properties in Marin County, I will be happy to help.

Novato City Hall

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Home Renovations That Increase Your Resale Value (2010 Edition)

Not all home improvement projects are created equalNot all home improvements are created equal.   Especially if you’re looking for “resale value” back from your work.

An article from the Wall Street Journal lays it out cleanly. Function beats flash these days so be wary of where you spend.

Environmental upgrades such as home insulation and energy-efficient steel entry doors are recovering a much greater percentage of their cost these days than major remodels including kitchens or bathrooms.   This is especially true for homes that are already “over-improved” relative to the neighborhood.

Upgrading the biggest and best homes on the block can be a losing proposition.

The article’s findings include data from groups such as the National Association of Home Builders, Remodeling Magazine, and Consumer Reports.  It lists the following home improvements among its top “paybacks”:

  • Steel entry door replacement : 129% cost recovery
  • Wood deck addition : 81% cost recovery
  • Vinyl-replacement window : 77% cost recovery

Energy-efficiency projects also recoup costs monthly in the form of lower heating and cooling bills.

Remodeling Magazine says a larger number of homeowners will remodel their homes in 2010 with less emphasis on upgrading kitchens and bathrooms, and more emphasis on adding new rooms.  From an appraisal perspective, this is a terrific way to increase your home’s value — especially if your home’s bed/bath count lags your neighbors.

Before starting a home improvement project, regardless of whether your goal is to increase resale value, talk with a real estate agent about other homes in the area and how they’re built. At worst, you’ll gather some ideas you can work into your plan.   At best, you’ll keep yourself from over-improving.  Feel free to call me with any question.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.