Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cell Phone Numbers Went Public to Telemarketers in January, 2010

All cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sales calls.

To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222 .It is the National DO NOT CALL list.

It will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years.

You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

First time and past home owners tax credit explained

As part of its plan to stimulate the U.S. housing market and address the economic challenges facing our nation, Congress has passed new legislation that:

  • Extends the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit of up to $8,000 to first-time home buyers until April 30, 2010.
  • Expands the credit to grant up to $6,500 credit to current home owners purchasing a new or existing home between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010.

Here is more information about how the Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit can help prospective home buyers become part of the American dream. If you have specific questions or need additional information, please contact a tax professional or the Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-1040.

Recent news:IRS Releases Revised Tax Forms, Instructions for Claiming Tax Credit (Jan. 25)Economists' Podcast: Lawrence Yun Discusses Market Recovery, the Tax Credit, and Employment (Jan. 12)Economists' Commentary: Existing-Home Sales and the Tax Credit (Dec. 22)

Who Qualifies for the Extended Credit?
First-time home buyers who purchase homes between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010.
Current home owners purchasing a home between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010, who have used the home being sold or vacated as a principal residence for five consecutive years within the last eight.

To qualify as a “first-time home buyer” the purchaser or his/her spouse may not have owned a residence during the three years prior to the purchase.If you or your client purchased a home between January 1, 2009 and November 6, 2009, please see: 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit.

Which Properties Are Eligible?
The Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit may be applied to primary residences, including: single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and co-ops.

How Much Is Available?
The maximum allowable credit for first-time home buyers is $8,000.
The maximum allowable credit for current homeowners is $6,500.

How is a Buyer's Credit Amount Determined?
Each home buyer’s tax credit is determined by two additional factors:

  • The price of the home.
  • The buyer's income.


Under the Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit, credit may only be awarded on homes purchased for $800,000 or less.

Buyer Income

Under the Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit, which is effective on November 7, 2009, single buyers with incomes up to $125,000 and married couples with incomes up to $225,000—may receive the maximum tax credit.

These income limits have changed from the 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit limits. If you or your client purchased a home between January 1, 2009 and November 6, 2009, please see 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit.

If the Buyer(s)’ Income Exceeds These Limits, Can He/She Still Get a Credit?
Yes, some buyers may still be eligible for the credit.
The credit decreases for buyers who earn between $125,000 and $145,000 for single buyers and between $225,000 and $245,000 for home buyers filing jointly. The amount of the tax credit decreases as his/her income approaches the maximum limit. Home buyers earning more than the maximum qualifying income—over $145,000 for singles and over $245,000 for couples are not eligible for the credit.

Can a Buyer Still Qualify If He/She Closes After April 30, 2010?
Under the Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit, as long as a written binding contract to purchase is in effect on April 30, 2010, the purchaser will have until July 1, 2010 to close.

Will the Tax Credit Need to Be Repaid?
No. The buyer does not need to repay the tax credit, if he/she occupies the home for three years or more. However, if the property is sold during this three-year period, the full amount credit will be recouped on the sale.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

FHA program announces changes

FHA is an integral part to the continued recovery of the real estate industry and the overall economy. NAR will continue to work with FHA, the Administration, and the Congress to ensure FHA can fulfill its mission while providing for the safety and soundness of the insurance fund.
NAR is committed to assisting FHA as they balance risk management with creating homeownership opportunities across the country.

In October 2009, FHA announced that its capital reserve fund had fallen below the congressionally mandated level of 2 percent. The drop in capital reserves has led Congress and the Administration to call for changes to strengthen FHA.

On January 20, 2010, FHA announced major changes to ensure its long-term financial soundness.

FHA is trying to balance three fundamental objectives:
1) financial soundness of the FHA insurance fund – ensuring that its capital ratio returns above 2 percent;
2) fulfilling its mission of serving borrowers not adequately served by the private sector; and
3) facilitating the recovery of the housing industry and the overall economy

NAR has met with the Commissioner on several occasions to discuss the state of the housing market and to underscore FHA’s invaluable role. By all accounts the new changes are a victory for home buyers. FHA has carefully balanced the need to make financial reforms with the need to keep FHA available to a large segment of consumers. This is evident by retaining the 3.5 percent minimum down payment requirement and allowing the upfront mortgage insurance premium to be financed.

The upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP) will increase to 2.25 percent up from 1.75 percent. Contrary to reports, FhA will continue to allow the financing of the UFMIP.

Borrowers with a credit score below 580 will be required to have at least a 10 percent down payment. The minimum down payment will remain at 3.5 percent for all other borrowers.

FHA will seek legislative authority to increase the annual premium (currently capped at .55 percent). Over time, increasing the annual premium may allow FHA to reduce the upfront

Seller concessions will be reduced to 3 percent from 6 percent.

FHA will make the following lender enforcement changes:
• FHA will implement credit watch terminations at lender underwriting.
• Public reporting of lender performance through scorecard system will be implemented.
• FHA will implement, through notice and comment, indemnification against lenders.
• Indemnification will be expanded beyond fraud and misrepresentation.
• FHA will seek legislative authority to enforce indemnifications against direct endorsed (DE) lenders.
• FHA will seek legislative authority to sanction lenders nationwide based on performance of local branch.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

C.A.R. Insurance for First-time Home Buyers

California Association of Realtor's Housing Affordability Fund has committed $1 million to support the Mortgage Protection Program (and the National Association of Realtors another $420,000) an insurance product that kicks in when the unexpected happens: job loss. Your first-time buyers who enroll in the program can draw upon their mortgage protection policy in the event they lose their job after purchasing their home. Under the program, first-time buyers will be eligible to receive $1,500 per month for six months in the event of a job loss; co-buyers are eligible to receive $750 per month.

To be eligible for coverage, the home must be a principal residence in California and a first-time buyer is defined as someone who has not purchased a home in the past three years. While there are no caps on the applicant's income or the purchase price of the home, the applicants are required to use a California Realtor in their transaction; they cannot be self-employed or older than age 70. Consumers can apply for the program via their Realtor; you can enroll your clients on the C.A.R. Web site (

Monday, February 1, 2010

Healthy Home Improvements

Almost everyone’s thoughts turn towards wellness at the start of a new year—and even your home can be part of your plans for a healthier lifestyle. The connection between your health and the building you live in has been extensively studied since the 1980s.

Even though most homes don’t suffer from “sick building syndrome,” many homeowners feel better making improvements that promote the family’s health. Here are a few popular health-related home upgrades:

Whole-House Air Filter

Because we spend up to 90 percent of our time inside our home, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports dust, molds, pet dander, pests and second-hand smoke can trigger asthma in family members or visitors. In addition to regularly cleaning furniture and bedding, you may also consider cleaning the air through your forced-air heating or central air-conditioning system. Types of filters include disposable HEPA filters, electronic “ionizing” filters and UV filters that kill airborne bacteria.

Household Water Filter

Many people want extra-clean drinking water, while others simply don’t like the taste of tap water. In any case, filtration can remove chlorine and other unwanted substances from your water. Installed under the sink, a plumbed-in water filtration system connects directly to an existing water pipe. Such a system offers convenience, though you may still need to change the filter cartridge regularly.

Low-Emission Paint

Are you thinking about repainting a room? Many paints and household finishes still contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, heavy metals such as mercury, or other toxins. Using paints and other finishes with low or no VOCs can help people with allergies and sensitivities breathe more easily.

If you add these health-promoting features to your home, remember to call attention to them when you decide to sell. Your “healthy” home may stand out from the competition so you receive a higher price.