Monday, March 30, 2009

6 Reasons Why It's Still a Good Time to Buy

The housing market is looking healthier. Here are six reasons why now is the time to jump into the market.

1. Uncle Sam is willing to help. First-time buyers (defined as anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the last three years) are entitled to a maximum $8,000 tax credit; interest rates are at record lows; and the Federal Reserve is doing its best to make mortgage loans available. (Sign up for a Webinar to learn more about the home buyer tax credit)

2. People have to live somewhere. About 800,000 new households are formed each year in this country, ensuring that the housing market will tighten, even if the economy doesn’t soar.

3. Borrowers leverage their investment. If you put $10,000 into the stock market and it earns 10 percent, you’ve earned $1,000. If you put $10,000 down on a home and its values increases 10 percent, you’ve made $10,000.

4. When prices come back up, you’ll have instant equity. In parts of the country where foreclosures have driven down prices, better times will mean the price of the home you buy will rise rapidly.

5. Mortgage costs stay the same. If you get a fixed-rate mortgage, the monthly payment stays the same – while everything else, including rent, goes upward.

6. You own it. There is something comforting in the notion that your home is your own. You can paint it any color you want, let the dog run in the back yard and hang a swing for the kids in the front.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, June Fletcher (03/27/2009)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

First-Time Homebuyers are in Luck

With Spring right around the corner, you may feel like it's time for a change. Have you recently considered transitioning to a new home? This is one of the best times to purchase the home of your dreams. Interest rates are low and first-time homebuyers are in luck. Congress recently passed an act which includes a tax credit for first-time homebuyers of up to $8,000.

Are you a first-time homebuyer? You may be classified as a first-time homebuyer and not even know it. If you haven't previously owned a home, you fall into the category of first-time homebuyer. But did you know that if you haven't owned a principal residence in the past three years, you also constitute as a first-time homebuyer? It's true. If you fit either of these categories, the government has created a tax credit that you can take advantage of if you choose to purchase between Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, 2009.

The government is offering lesser of 10 percent of the cost of a home or $8,000 to qualifying first-time homebuyers in the form of a refundable tax credit. That means, if you owe $5,000 in taxes, you will receive a check for $3,000. If you don't owe any taxes, you may qualify to receive the full $8,000 credit. If you're lucky enough to have the government owe you money in taxes—let's say $1,000—then you could potentially receive a credit of up to $9,000.

Qualifying for this tax credit may be easier than you think. If you're a first-time homebuyer, here are a few things to consider. First, a qualifying home must be a single-family, primary residence. This can include condos, co-ops and townhouses. Secondly, your income has a bearing on whether you're a fit for this credit. The full amount of credit is available for individuals with gross incomes of no more than $75,000 (single) or $150,000 (married). The credit phases out above those caps.

The best part about this credit is that there's no repayment as long as you don't sell the home within three years of purchase. If you choose to do so, the entire amount of credit is due back to the government at the time of sale. But this only applies to homes purchased in 2009.
If you fit these qualifications, then congratulations! You're on your way to a great real estate deal. Contact me today to take advantage of this great offer.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Create a House Hunt Checklist

The HomeSpace is one of the first things people notice when touring a home. Are there enough bedrooms to accommodate the household? How spacious are storage closets? Square footage and the practicality of the floor plan are elements that demand major consideration. Is there a garage or a basement? These are some standards you should have set in your head before beginning your home search, but it doesn't hurt to add these elements to the checklist.

After you've evaluated the space, take time to note the condition of the home. Some suggest breaking it down further into interior and exterior conditions. Look specifically for dampness and odors in the basement, age and condition of the roof as well as the functionality of gutters and downspouts. Finally, don't forget to make note of extra perks such as a fireplace, great landscaping, fences, a patio/deck, screens and storm windows as well as overall energy efficiency.

The Neighborhood
One of the most common things homebuyers look for in a neighborhood is safety. Individuals want to feel secure in their new surroundings. Other high-ranking aspects include: traffic, noise level, parking and zoning restrictions. How close are you to police and fire stations, the hospital or schools? Does the neighborhood provide snow removal or trash services? Don't forget to investigate these issues by creating a physical or mental checklist.

For those who have children, what school district you choose is an important consideration. Feel free to further research the reputation of the schools, quality of teachers and achievement test scores for students attending these schools. Other considerations include class sizes, busing distance and the age and condition of the buildings that your children could potentially attend. Taking the time to meet with faculty, tour the school and talk with parents of pupils who attend the school will help you make an informed decision.

Location is becoming a greater concern for many homebuyers due to increased gas prices. When looking at a home, take the time to figure out how far you would be from the grocery store, schools, child care, shopping, highways, etc. Is there public transportation in your area? How far are you willing to commute each day? These are some things you want to ask yourself as you evaluate the location of a home.

Taking the time to look at all aspects of a home—from the actual structure to the neighborhood, schools and location will help you make a more accurate and informed decision when choosing a home. Make your own checklist or go the Real Living Buyer Checklist for a pre-made list that reflects the aspects previously discussed. For additional questions on your home search, contact me today.