Home buyer tax credits spurring Grand Island housing market January 25th, 2010
By Robert Pore
Grand Island Independent
It may be the right time to buy a house.
The government is providing a number of tax incentives that could help not only first-time home buyers but also those existing homeowners who would like to upgrade their residence.
Under the guidelines of the 2009-10 Home Buyer Federal Tax Credit program, first-time home buyers who have not owned a principal residence during the three years prior to the purchase may be eligible for a tax credit of 10 percent of the home’s purchase price, up to a maximum of $8,000.
Existing homeowners — who have been residing in their principal residence for five consecutive years out of the last eight and are purchasing a home to be their principal residence — or a repeat buyer may be eligible for a tax credit of 10 percent of the home’s purchase price, up to $6,500.
The eligibility period is for homes purchased after Nov. 6, 2009, and before May 1, 2010. However, home purchases subject to a binding sales contract signed by April 30 will qualify for the tax credit provided that closing occurs prior to July 1.
For more information about the Home Buyer Federal Tax Credit, visit www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com.
Pat Schmit of Woods Bros Realty, president of the Grand Island Board of Realtors, said the federal Home Buyers Tax Credit program has generated a lot of interest from potential home buyers.
“Many, many buyers have benefitted from this credit,” Schmit said, “mostly young people who are first-time home buyers.”
But interest has also been strong for the tax credit available for existing homeowners looking to upgrade, Schmit said.
Homes that qualify are all less than $800,000, including newly constructed homes or resale, and single-family detached, town homes or condominiums, provided that the home will be used as the buyer’s principal residence. Vacation home and rental property purchases do no qualify.
There are income limits to the program.
For example, home buyers who file as single or head of household can claim the full credit if their modified adjusted gross income is less than $125,000. For married couples filing a joint return, the combined income is $225,000. Single or head-of-household taxpayers who earn between $125,000 and $145,000, and married couples who earn between $225,000 and $245,000, are eligible to receive a partial credit.
The credit is not available for single taxpayers whose modified adjusted grossed income is greater than $145,000 or married couples whose modified adjusted grossed income exceeds $245,000.
The tax credit is refundable, which means that, if the amount of income taxes you owe is less than the credit amount you qualify for, the government will send you a check for the difference. Under the program, the tax credit does not have to be repaid unless the homeowner sells or stops using the home as his or her principal residence within three years after the purchase.
The Home Buyer Federal Tax Credit was started to stimulate the housing market following the recent economic recession that slowed home buying and home construction.
While the housing market suffered throughout the country as a result of the economic downturn, the effects were not as great in Central Nebraska, Schmit said.
“Our housing market fell to some extent, but this (tax credit) has definitely improved it and has sparked an interest in buying again,” she said. “We have had a very strong housing market, and we saw a small decline, nothing like other communities.”
Schmit described Grand Island’s housing market as “stable,” but the number of listings are down, “and that is hurting us.”
“Normally, this time of year, we have about 350 listings, and now we are down to about 280,” she said. “There are just not as many houses to choose from, and it’s taking buyers longer to find a house.”
The number of listings may be down because people are not ready to sell their homes because of the economic climate nationwide, Schmit said.
“They feel that maybe it is just not the right time to move up,” she said.
Also, with lower housing prices, people who purchased homes several years ago may be reluctant to place them on the market for less than what they paid.
Once those home prices become more competitive as the number of buyers increases, owners may be more willing to put those homes on the market.
Schmit said there is a wide range of homes on the market — from older homes to new construction. She said the current price range averages between $100,000 to $150,000.
“It’s a very dynamic market, and we have people of all ages looking,” she said. “We have had calls from people moving back from Oregon and California.”
Another incentive is that interest rates are low. Schmit said there’s also strong demand for rental properties in Grand Island, which may contribute to tighter lending practices for those wanting to buy a new home.
For the rest of the article, visit the Grand Island Independent web site.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Cold weather, hot rates January 19th, 2010
It’s a new year and things are definitely picking up in Lincoln real estate. The cold, cold temps and record snowfalls in December caused a real downturn in home sales. I don’t know about you, but there are not many people who want to interupt their holiday plans and plod through 5-foot snow drifts to look at houses. In November, the Midlands MLS posted 323 homes sold. That number dropped to 162 in December. But things are looking up. Through January 18th, 2010, there were 43 homes sold and 113 “under contract”.
It’s also important to note that the current low interest rates might not last much longer. Right now it’s possible to get a 30-year-fixed rate at about 5%. However, barring any last minute change, the Federal Reserve Bank plans to stop buying mortgage backed securities on March 31, 2010. That could result in an increase of .5% to 1% to mortgage interest rates (or rates around 6%). Your loan officer can detail this further, but an increase from 5% to 6% on a $100,000 loan (for example) could mean you would be paying at least $50 more a month.
Posted by Joanne McCoy
Woods Bros Realty wins traveling trophy for political action January 19th, 2010
Woods Bros Realty has won the REALTORS Political Action Committee (RPAC) traveling trophy for 2009.
The traveling trophy is awarded to either Woods Bros Realty or Home Real Estate each year for the most participation in RPAC. Woods Bros Realty lost the first year, but has now won for the past ten consecutive years.
RPAC is the voice of REALTORS® on Capitol Hill, according to their web site. Since 1969 RPAC has been promoting the election of pro-REALTOR® candidates across the United States and is the number one trade association political action committee in the nation.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Woods Bros Realty gives away a year of mortgage payments January 7th, 2010
Kerri McDonald of Lincoln has one less thing to worry about for 2010. Woods Bros Realty, along with HOME Real Estate, is paying her mortgage payments for the year, as she is the winner of their 2009 Cover Your Bases promotion.
McDonald and her husband, Tim, purchased their first home, a Cover Your Bases listing, in September. By participating in the Cover Your Bases program, the seller agreed to provide an upgraded American Home Shield home warranty to provide more buyer confidence in the home.
Kerri said they plan to use the money to give themselves a nest egg or to pay down extra on their mortgage.
“I’ve never won anything before,” Kerri said. “I don’t know what to make out of it. It just hasn’t hit me yet.”
The home warranty has already come in handy for the couple, and they were able to take advantage of the first-time home buyer federal tax credit. They also took part in the NeighborWorks® program, a non-profit organization that offers home buyer education and assistance, in addition to neighborhood revitalization.
“This is really going to help us out with our future,” Tim said. “With the $8,000, too, what else could we ask for? It’s just a blessing, really.”
Sales associate Harry Malone of the Woods Bros Realty Lincolnshire Square office worked with the buyers to find a home, make an offer, and keep the sale moving when problems arose.
“They were very, very appreciative throughout the cycle of the sale, “Malone said. “These folks were just so nice all the way. It’s people like them who make my job enjoyable.”
Lou Villalobos of the Woods Bros Realty Country Club Plaza office was the listing agent of the home that had been on the market for a while and had recently had a price reduction, bringing into the McDonalds’ price range.
“When the Cover Your Bases promotion started, we added this home to it immediately,” Villalobos said.
The Cover Your Bases promotion was created to promote secure home buying and selling in an uncertain economy. Homes in the promotion included an upgraded home warranty to protect buyers from unforeseen repairs and expenses in the first year of owning their home. Entrants needed to purchase one of the promoted homes using a Woods Bros Realty or HOME Real Estate professional REALTOR®, and they were encouraged to have the homes inspected.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the results of this promotion and are thrilled for the winners,” said Gene Brake, CEO of HomeServices of Nebraska. “We appreciate all the buyers and sellers who have participated in the program.”
135 buyers were enrolled for a drawing of free mortgage payments for a year, up to $12,000 of principal and interest. Kerri’s name was drawn Jan. 5, and Tim waited until he picked her up from work to give her the news.
“It’s still just a shock to me,” she said.
For more information about the Cover Your Bases promotion, visit www.CoverYourBases.net.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Lincoln makes a number of “great” lists in 2009 January 4th, 2010
By MATT OLBERDING / Lincoln Journal Star
Fifth-best place for business and careers.
Top city in which to find a job.
Second-most-likely city to see a housing recovery.
It seems that in 2009 Lincoln popped up on more “best of” lists than ever before.
Those kudos make for interesting newspaper stories and look good on Chamber of Commerce marketing materials, but do they really have any effect on economic development?
Wendy Birdsall believes they do.
“They play a big role because we’re getting accolades, we’re getting put on the map,” said Birdsall, president of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.
“It does cause people to take a second look” at Lincoln, she said.
As evidence that people notice, Birdsall cited an October trip by city and chamber officials to Dallas to visit with site selectors and officials of companies that have Lincoln operations.
“People mentioned, ‘You’ve been making a lot of these lists,’” she said. “They do notice it.”
Read the rest of the article here.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty