Archive for May, 2010

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Plenty of Reasons to Buy a Home even after the Tax Credit

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Even though the home buyer tax credit expired on April 30, 2010 and won’t be renewed, there may never be a better time to buy a home than today, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Many outstanding opportunities still exist for home buyers, but they may not be around forever.

“The home buyer tax credit was just one of many factors motivating Americans to buy homes,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a builder and developer in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. “But buyers can still take advantage of today’s low interest rates and competitive prices to get a home they may not have been able to purchase just a few years ago.”

Besides mortgage interest rates that have been hovering at near-record lows, homes in many markets have become more affordable. Prices have moderated from the highs of the housing boom that occurred in most of the country, especially in major markets where they had increased significantly.

Today’s new homes are also built to be much more energy efficient than homes constructed a generation ago, making them more affordable to operate. New homes are designed to support modern lifestyles with open floorplans, flexible spaces, improved safety features and low-maintenance materials.

Consumers who are thinking about buying a home should not count on interest rates or prices staying at current levels, however. Mortgage rates are sensitive to market conditions, and even a slight increase can push monthly payments beyond a family’s budget. As the country recovers from the recession and people stabilize their financial situations, NAHB economists expect that home prices will begin to increase by 2011.

NAHB’s home buyer brochure “Opportunity Knocks for Home Buyers” describes many of the opportunities in today’s market, as well as the long-term financial benefits of homeownership. It provides examples of how interest rates affect monthly mortgage payments and the typical federal tax savings over the first five years of homeownership.

The home buyer tax credit is still available for eligible home buyers who had a signed sales contract by the April 30 deadline and who close by June 30, 2010, as well as for qualified members of the military, foreign service and intelligence communities, who have until April 30, 2011, to sign a contract. For more information, go to

Source: RISMedia and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)

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Buying vs. Renting in this Market – Calculate which makes sense for you.

rent vs. buy a home

The buy-versus-rent question is particularly relevant right now. To qualify for an expiring federal tax credit of up to $8,000, home buyers must sign a contract by April 30 and close on the house by June 30. Many economists also expect mortgage rates to rise in coming months.

Camela Witters, a 38-year-old trophy engraver in Las Vegas, plans to close on her first home purchase — a four-bedroom, $164,000 house nearly identical to the one she is now renting — in the next few days. She decided to buy, she said, when she found out she could save money by doing so. “I didn’t buy a house when everyone did,” said Ms. Witters, who lives with her companion and their children. “So I’m kind of taking advantage of all the foreclosures.”

The Times analysis is based on comparing the costs of buying and renting a similar home, using data from Moody’s, a research firm, and from real estate agents. This kind of comparison can never tell someone for sure what the best financial move will be. But it does show whether a buyer will need a big jump in future prices to cover all the costs of owning — including the down payment, closing costs, property taxes, mortgage interest, repairs and co-op fees.

A simple way to do the comparison is to look at something called the rent ratio: the purchase price of a house divided by the annual cost of renting a similar one. The number 20 provides a useful rule of thumb. When you do the math, you discover that a ratio above 20 means you should at least consider renting, especially if you may move again in the next five years or so. When the ratio is well below 20, the case for buying becomes a lot stronger.

Check out the Interactive Comparison Worksheet and find out if buying is better for you.

In many large metropolitan areas, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta and South Florida, the average ratio is now 16 or lower. It was more than 25 in several of these places at the peak of the bubble, about five years ago. With a ratio as low as 16 and interest rates as low as they are, the costs of owning can be less than the costs of renting — and buyers will end up worse off only if prices fall considerably more.

Calculate here – Is buying a house better for you?

Source: David Leonhardt (New York Times)

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Now is Still a Good Time to Buy?

happy homeowners

More than 80% of first-time home buyers and sellers feel the current housing market is more affordable today than this time last year, despite the fact that 40% of all respondents are more worried about the economy compared to this time last year, according to Century 21 Real Estate LLC’s First-Time Home Buyers and Sellers Survey.

While the attractive combination of home prices, mortgage rates and tax credits appeal to both buyers and sellers, market conditions continue to favor buyers. However, first-time home buyers anticipate home prices will soon begin to rise and in fact, about half of first-time buyers (48%) expect an increase by this time next year, thereby reestablishing the balance between buyers and sellers.

Home price effects on first-time buyers and sellers:

-More than 80% of buyers believe now is a good time to buy a home.

-First-time home buyers rated the three most influential factors in their decision to enter the market and buy a home as current housing prices (66%), followed closely by both the home buyer tax credit (63%) and low interest rates (60%).

-Finding a home within a buyer’s price range is extremely important (95%), as is a neighborhood’s safety (90%).

-The top two factors influencing the first-timers’ decision to sell their homes were personal/family reasons and current housing prices – both of which were cited as motivating factors by 48% of first-time sellers.

-Most likely due to their experience, approximately half of first-time sellers (54%) think home prices are more affordable now than compared to this time last year.

-In fact, the current home prices have influenced 50% of sellers to ‘move-up’ and 37% to change neighborhoods.

-Sellers are mainly concerned about losing money on the sale of their home and receiving offers near their asking price.

-Approximately half of all first-time home buyers (48%) and sellers (53%) anticipate housing prices will increase over the next year.


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Hump Wednesday Funnies

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Home Buyers Tax Credit Extended for Armed Service Members

tax credit extended for armed force

The expiration date of the $8,000 first-time home buyer may have already passed for most, but there are some potential homebuyers who can still take advantage of this great opportunity.

For those who are qualified service members, you have an extra year to cash in on the credit. Your new deadline is April 30, 2011. The government defines “qualified service member” as a member of the uniformed services of the U.S military, a member of the Foreign Service of the U.S., or an employee of the intelligence community.”

The reasoning behind this extension is simple. National Association of Home Builders Chairman, Bob Jones, says, “Congress recognized that many service members may have missed out on the home buyer tax credit due to being posted overseas. It is only fitting that they be given another year to take advantage of this opportunity in appreciation of the sacrifices they have made serving our country.”

There has been another modification to the credit for members of the armed service. Currently, a buyer must repay the credit if they move out of their new home within three years. This particular contingency has been waived if the move is due to government ordered extended duty service.

Source: Carla L. Davis (RealtyTimes)

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10 Important Tips After a Bankruptcy

rebuild your credit after bankruptcy

One common problem people emerging from bankruptcy often face is the negative, long-term impact it has on their ability to be approved for new credit at a reasonable cost. Many creditors will not lend to you for one to two years. When you finally begin to qualify again, you will typically be categorized as “extra high risk,” which often is accompanied by lower credit limits and very high interest rates.

The good news is that nothing in credit is forever. The effect of a bankruptcy on your credit score can start to diminish the day your case is closed.

10 Important Tips to Rebuild Your Credit After a Bankruptcy:

1. Plan your credit recovery – take it slow and easy – do it right – don’t exceed what you can afford.

2. If your credit report contains inaccuracies about debt that was discharged through your bankruptcy, contact the creditor or the credit bureaus to request a correction.

3. If your problem was over-spending, create a written budget and STICK to it.

4. To re-establish a strong credit profile, you need a good history of payments from credit cards and installment debt, such as autos, student loans or a home loan.

5. The rebuilding process requires you to use credit responsibly. Use only a small portion (30% or less) of your available credit line and ensure you make a payment every month.

6. If your problem was related to medical bills, seek out a solution for insurance.

7. Learn more about how credit works through the Internet, counseling services or a seminar. Do it right and know what you’re doing.

8. If you didn’t have enough savings to survive a setback, get serious about savings for an emergency fund. In the current economy, you need at least 12-16 months.

9. When you start to re-establish your credit, consider a “secure” credit card. Such cards are usually backed by your savings account or money you place in escrow to cover 100% of your credit line in case you don’t make your payment.

10. You may be able to apply for a home loan in as little as two years after the discharge of your bankruptcy, however, except to pay higher fees and interest rates.

Source: Jeff Mandel and Marlin Brandt (RISMedia)
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