Archive for September, 2010

Tax Credits for Home Improvements!

Several tax incentives are available for homeowners who make certain types of home improvements that will increase energy efficiency.  These credits all have expiration dates and vary in amount. Homeowners who use them will save themselves money at the same time they increase the current and future marketability of the property.

The table in the downloadable PDF below provides brief descriptions of the credits available.  Homeowners may wish to consult IRS Forms 8908, 8909 and 5695 for the “fine print” that will guide them through the criteria for the various credits.  To locate the previously mentioned IRS Forms, please visit www.irs.gov and click on Forms & Publications.

Click on: Tax Credits for Your Residence to download the PDF (required adobe acrobat.)

National Real Estate Report: Existing-Home Sales Move Up in August

Existing-home sales rose in August following a big correction in July, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 7.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.13 million in August from an upwardly revised 3.84 million in July, but remain 19.0 percent below the 5.10 million-unit pace in August 2009.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said home sales still remain subpar. “The housing market is trying to recover on its own power without the home buyer tax credit. Despite very attractive affordability conditions, a housing market recovery will likely be slow and gradual because of lingering economic uncertainty,” Yun said.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 4.43 percent in August from 4.56 percent in July; the rate was 5.19 percent in August 2009. (more…)

Grand Rapids, MI: 5 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Home Today (Cheryl Grant, RE/MAX Realty)

5 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Home Today

by Steve Harney on July 27, 2010 ·

Homeownership almost seems like a dirty word in today’s society. People are blogging, tweeting and facebooking their belief that buying a home is just plain stupid. I respect their opinion on the issue though I totally disagree. Why?

This might be the best time to buy a home in American real estate history.

Some might think I’m crazy. Cynics might think that I am saying this because I still hold a real estate license (though I have not listed nor sold a home in ten years). My reason for saying it is actually quite simple. Owning a home makes more sense than not owning a home for the vast majority of families in this country. Let me give you five reasons why.

1. Real Estate is a Great Long Term Investment

Don’t take my word on this. This is what Mike Mandel, former chief economist at BusinessWeek and current Senior Fellow at Wharton’s Mack Center for Technological Innovation, had to say:

We’ve just had the biggest boom and bust in real estate in recent history. Nevertheless, real estate has still greatly outperformed the stock market over the past ten years.

Below is his chart actually showing the difference between real estate and the stock market.

 

 

2. A Home Is a Better Place to Raise a Family

Don’t take my word on this. When Fannie Mae asked current renters for the major reason to buy a house in their National Housing Survey 2010, these were the answers renters gave (they could pick multiple answers):

  • 78% said it was a good place to raise children
  • 75% said because they would feel safe
  • 70% said because you have control of your own space

3. A Home Creates a Sense of Community

Don’t take my word on this. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York just published a paper The Homeownership Gap. The paper explained:

Because owners have a financial interest in their property, they have incentives to take measures that will maintain or increase the value of that property. Some of these measures—such as fixing a leaky roof—are closely related to the house itself. Others, such as investing resources in the betterment of the neighborhood and the community, have broader beneficial effects on the local area, creating what economists call “positive externalities.”

4. It’s Cheaper to Own Than Rent in Many Parts of the Country

Don’t take my word on this. Housing Wire just reported on a Credit Suisse study:

While a segment of the renting population continues to rent, many are looking to dip their toes in the homeownership waters. Credit Suisse said the percentage of median household income needed to pay the mortgage on a median priced home is at a 30-year low… Low mortgage rates and property values makes homeownership more attractive than renting for many. In many markets — including Washington DC, California’s Inland Empire, Las Vegas and Phoenix — paying for a mortgage is less expensive than renting.

And here is a graph from the study:

 

5. The People Who Do Buy a Home Don’t Regret It

Don’t take my word on this. Probably the best people to ask if buying a home makes sense are the people who currently own homes. A recent national poll commissioned by Bankrate.com found:

Ninety percent of homeowners say they don’t regret buying their home despite a nationwide tsunami of foreclosures, short sales and loan modifications.

It’s a great long term investment. It’s a great place to raise a family. It gives you a greater sense of community. It’s less expensive than renting. People who currently own have no regrets. Buying a home seems like a no brainer to me.