Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Will the Stimulus Benefit Homeowners and Buyers?

Will the Stimulus Benefit Homeowners and Buyers?

RISMEDIA, February 18, 2009-”There are four primary sections of the economic stimulus plan that will benefit home owners and buyers,” said Gibran Nicholas, chairman of the CMPS Institute, an organization that certifies mortgage bankers and brokers. According to Nicholas, these include:
1. Expansion of Home Improvement Tax Credit.”The tax credit for making energy efficient home improvements is now 30% of the cost of the improvements up to a maximum of $1500,” Nicholas said. “This means that if the improvements cost you $4,500, you would receive a tax refund of $1,500 when you file your tax returns.”
Eligible improvements include energy efficient exterior doors and windows, insulation, heat pumps, furnaces, central air conditioners and water heaters.
“Generally, most modern improvements like windows, furnaces, and air conditioners meet the necessary standards for energy efficiency,” Nicholas said. “If you’ve been holding off on making some of these improvements, now is a great time to get a move on it - especially with all the great deals being offered.”
2. Expansion of First-time Home Buyer Tax Credit.
The tax credit available to first-time home buyers was increased from $7,500 to $8,000 for homes purchased between January 1, 2009, and December 1, 2009. Also, the credit no longer needs to be paid back as long as the buyers live in the home without selling it for at least 3 years.
“The previous version of the credit expired on July 1, 2009, and required home buyers to pay the funds back over a 15 year time frame,” Nicholas said.
The income limitations remain the same ($75,000 for single tax payers claiming the full credit and $150,000 for married tax payers), as do most other qualification requirements. Also, the credit remains refundable. “This means that first-time home buyers who owe less than $8,000 in taxes for the year are still eligible for the full $8,000 credit when they file their tax returns, and the IRS will write them a check for the difference between $8,000 and their actual tax bill,” Nicholas said. “In fact, the credit can be claimed on your 2008 tax returns that you file by April 15 of this year, even if you buy the home in 2009.”
There is one catch, however: if you bought the home in 2008, the credit remains $7,500, and it still needs to be paid back over a 15 year timeframe beginning in 2011 when you file your 2010 returns.
3. Higher Reverse Mortgage Loan Limits.
The loan limits for FHA-insured reverse mortgages have been increased to $625,500 across the entire country-not just the higher cost areas. The previous limit was $417,000 across the country.
“This is especially important because the FHA program is virtually the only game in town as private and jumbo reverse mortgage programs have nearly all evaporated,” Nicholas said.
This coincides with another little-known change in the reverse mortgagearena: the availability of reverse mortgages on home purchase transactions.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for senior citizens to buy a new home and live mortgage payment-free without having to wait for their old home to sell,” Nicholas said. “Seniors could also use this strategy to buy a new home and turn the old home into a rental or otherwise wait for market conditions to improve before trying to sell the old home.”
4. $729,750 FHA and Conforming Loan Limits Restored in High Cost Areas.
“The $729,750 maximum loan limit had been in force throughout 2008, but was reduced to $625,500 in 2009,” Nicholas said. “The economic stimulus plan restores the $729,750 maximum. This makes higher cost homes more affordable - especially in the coastal housing markets that tend to have higher than average home values.”
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Top 10 Tips to be a successful Seller

Top Ten Tips to be a Successful Seller

Published on Tuesday, February 3, 2009, 2:39 PM Last Update: 54 minute(s) ago by Paul Pastore

1. Be committed to selling. In a buyer's market with inflated inventories, short sales, and repos, there is no place for sellers who want to 'test the waters'. Don't even think "If I get my price". You won't. Money is only a secondary motivator to the serious seller.

2. Make sure the price is right. Try triangulation. Ask a few agents for their opinion. Glance at Consider a formal appraisal. Focus on both current competition and current comps. Sellers should realize they seldom see their property objectively or know the other properties the buyers have seen.

3. Staging is a necessity. Clutter eats equity. Hire a professional stager or listen very carefully to your agent's suggestions. View a staging DVD. Buyers 'horriblize' defects. A faded front door suggests deferred maintenance. A stucco crack may infer expansive soil.

4. Consider a keysafe. The new lock boxes are electronic and enable the listing agent to see who is showing the property. Homes with easy access get more showings.

5. Install a for sale sign. If you don't want the neighbors to know you are selling, reread #1 above. The people in your area will know with or without the sign your property is for sale. They might even have a friend or relative who wants to be their new neighbor.

6. Absorb all feedback. If one buyer says something, others are thinking the same thing. If several similar comments are made, do something about the problem. Put your ego in storage with the excess furniture.

7. Flexibility is fundamental. No showings usually means the price istoo high. No offers usually means the price is too high. Be proactive especially if the market is flat or declining. Regularly reduce the price until an acceptable offer is received.

8. Accentuate the positives. Selling, buying, and moving are stressful events. Tell your agent you appreciate their efforts. Ask them how you can help get the house sold. Ask them what they would do if you were their relative, or it was their home. Ask this question frequently.

9. Time is of the essence. This means sooner is better than later. Do not underestimate the first buyer. They may be the best buyer. They may be the only buyer for a long time. A lower asking price may net a seller more money in the long run.

10. Patience is a virtue. Ask your agent what the average days on the market is in your area. The only way to get somewhere faster is to step on the gas if you are in a car. Or, reduce the price if selling a house.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I just added a February Newsletter to my web site click on this link to view my February 2009 Newsletter.