Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Here's my perspective on our local market. Inventory is very, very low for single family homes under $600,000. I'm seeing properties go under contract in a short amount of time -- a few days, even -- and often in multiple offers. Of course "under contract" is relative when you're talking about REOs and short sales, but you get the picture.
I attribute this to favorable loan conditions for first-time buyers. FHA loans ask for only 3.5% down (which can be a gift from a relative) and let the seller contribute to closing costs. Interest rates are low. And there's an $8000 tax credit for first time buyers.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
First-Time Homebuyers in 2009 to Reap Recovery Act BenefitsHomeownership Could Unlock Variety of Additional Deductions
February 23, 2009: 02:31 PM ET
Taxpayers on the fence about buying their first home may want to consider the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's tax credit that could mean up to an $8,000 break on their taxes. Not only will this tax credit lower a taxpayer's tax liability by the amount of the credit, but these first-time homebuyers may reap additional benefits when filing their tax return now and for years to come while they own the home.
According to Amy McAnarney, executive directory of The Tax Institute at H&R Block (NYSE: HRB), many first-time homeowners aren't aware they may be eligible to itemize deductions for the first time. "Homeownership is the key that could unlock thousands of dollars of tax savings," McAnarney said. "The taxpayer's joy from signing on the dotted line can extend to recognizing all of the additional tax deductions they can claim on their taxes -- if only they know how."
The benefit of the Recovery Act credit can be received now because taxpayers who have purchased a home in 2009, or who will do so before Dec. 1, 2009, can claim this credit on their 2008 original or amended return. Taxpayers, who purchased a home in 2009 and already claimed the $7,500 credit that was part of the Economic Stimulus Act, should amend their 2008 return to claim the additional credit, up to $500. "The Recovery Act is doing its job of trying to stimulate the housing market," said McAnarney. "This is one credit where taxpayers can reap the benefits almost immediately."
To qualify for this year's first-time homebuyer credit, the homebuyer must not have owned a home in the previous three years and the home must be the primary residence. Unlike last year's credit, if the property remains as the homeowner's primary residence for at least three years, then the payback requirement is waived. However, if a taxpayer bought the home in 2008, when the maximum credit was $7,500, the payback provision still applies and the credit must be repaid to the government over 15 years starting in 2010.
There are also a number of other tax benefits to consider in owning a home. For example, owning a home makes a taxpayer more likely to itemize deductions on Schedule A. Possible tax deductions to consider when itemizing include:
-- Mortgage interest
-- Real and personal property taxes
-- Charitable contributions
-- State and local income taxes
-- Loan origination fees
-- Qualified medical and dental expenses
-- Employee business expenses
-- Tax preparation fees
-- Investment interest and expenses
There is something in the Recovery Act for existing homeowners, as well. The Act also includes increased tax credits for energy-efficient improvements such as qualified new furnaces, windows and doors to existing homes. The amount of eligible credit was increased from 10 percent of the equipment cost to 30 percent. The credit applies to 2009 and 2010 tax returns, with a lifetime cap of $1,500.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Burbank Avg. Sales Price:
2 beds = $471k
3 beds = $520k
4 beds = $712k
Toluca Lake Avg. Sales Price:
2 beds = $617k
no data for 3 and 4 beds (I think due to short inventory/long time on market)
Studio City Avg. Sales Price:
no data for 2 beds
3 beds = $696k
4 beds = $1344k
I really love the L.A. Times, but I wish they would better qualify some of the information they print.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
For those of you who are following the progress of my Bank of America home re-finance: I got through to BofA yesterday and they now say it will take 60+ days to wrap up the re-fi. Mind you, we applied for this on January 6 and received a loan commitment on January 15. We've long since turned in income documentation and the other paperwork the bank asked for. And we have plenty of equity and aren't asking to take any cash out. I asked the kind person why it was taking so long and she told me, "Bank of America is hiring and training new people." So good to know. You'd think they might have wanted to do that before promoting re-fi rates below 5%. But what do I know about the inner workings of a giant multinational banking institution?
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
The business section of today's L.A. Times contains two excellent consumer-oriented articles about foreclosure and loan modification. The first, Headed for Foreclosure? Here's What to Expect has definitions and a foreclosure timetable. The second, Common Loan Modifications Offered by Banks, delves into the types of loan modifications offered (warning: principal write-down is rare).
This week's The New Yorker offers one of the best articles on the mortgage meltdown crisis that I have read. It focuses on Florida, and is titled The Ponzi State, but the situations described are applicable to California and elsewhere. George Packer is the author. Unfortunately, you have to be a subscriber to read the article, but here's an abstract. The article is unique in that it profiles several different individuals that have been hurt by this downturn that haven't been much written about before, including folks that have never owned a home and state officials.
Friday, February 13, 2009
And by the way, there has been no word since the 5th on my refinance. GRRRR!
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Well, no. Frustration has set in. Earlier this week, it appeared that all of our supporting documentation (tax returns, etc.) had been lost. It took six phone calls and about an hour and 20 minutes to straighten that out. I just received my "welcome" phone call -- a month after I applied -- and it was my second "welcome" phone call today. Apparently, the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. Oh yes -- BofA will assign a processor this week. Since the late closing is their doing, they will mercifully extend our rate lock.
More news when there is some.