Monday, September 28, 2009

**The $8,000 first time buyer tax credit is set to expire Nov 30th!!

**The $8,000 first time buyer tax credit is set to expire Nov 30th.

1. Who is eligible to claim the tax credit?
First-time home buyers purchasing any kind of home new or resale are eligible for the tax credit. To qualify for the tax credit, a home purchase must occur on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009. For the purposes of the tax credit, the purchase date is the date when closing occurs and the title to the property transfers to the home owner. A limited exception exists for certain contract for deed purchases and installment sale purchases. See the IRS website for more detail.

2. What is the definition of a first-time home buyer?
The law defines "first-time home buyer" as a buyer who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. For married taxpayers, the law tests the homeownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse.

For example, if you have not owned a home in the past three years but your spouse has owned a principal residence, neither you nor your spouse qualifies for the first-time home buyer tax credit. However, unmarried joint purchasers may allocate the credit amount to any buyer who qualifies as a first-time buyer, such as may occur if a parent jointly purchases a home with a son or daughter. Ownership of a vacation home or rental property not used as a principal residence does not disqualify a buyer as a first-time home buyer.

3. How is the amount of the tax credit determined?
The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000.

4. Are there any income limits for claiming the tax credit?
Yes. The income limit for single taxpayers is $75,000; the limit is $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. The tax credit amount is reduced for buyers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of more than $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. The phase out range for the tax credit program is equal to $20,000. That is, the tax credit amount is reduced to zero for taxpayers with MAGI of more than $95,000 (single) or $170,000 (married) and is reduced proportionally for taxpayers with MAGIs between these amounts.

5. How do I claim the tax credit? Do I need to complete a form or application?
Participating in the tax credit program is easy. You claim the tax credit on your federal income tax return. Specifically, home buyers should complete IRS Form 5405 to determine their tax credit amount, and then claim this amount on line 67 of the 1040 income tax form for 2009 returns (line 69 of the 1040 income tax form for 2008 returns). No other applications or forms are required, and no pre-approval is necessary. However, you will want to be sure that you qualify for the credit under the income limits and first-time home buyer tests. Note that you cannot claim the credit on Form 5405 for an intended purchase for some future date; it must be a completed purchase.

6. What types of homes will qualify for the tax credit?
Any home that will be used as a principal residence will qualify for the credit. This includes single-family detached homes, attached homes like townhouses and condominiums, manufactured homes (also known as mobile homes) and houseboats. The definition of principal residence is identical to the one used to determine whether you may qualify for the $250,000 / $500,000 capital gain tax exclusion for principal residences.

It is important to note that you cannot purchase a home from your ancestors (parents, grandparents, etc.), your lineal descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.) or your spouse. Please consult with your tax advisor for more information. Also see IRS Form 5405.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Will the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit Extend to 2010?

Buyers interested in taking advantage of the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit cross your fingers - Yesterday afternoon, Senator Ben Cardin introduced S. 1678, which would extend the $8,000 first time homebuyer tax credit for another 6 months to June 1, 2010. The current tax credit is set to expire on December 1, 2009. The bill has 4 co-sponsors: Ensign, Reid, Isakson, and Stabenow. We'll be tracking the progress of this bill. If you have any questions about utilizing the current tax credit, feel free to call me at 703-400-6757.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tell Me - How Do I Win a Contract in This Market?

This market is unlike any that I have seen over the past 8 years. Buyer activity is SOARING and inventory is down, which has buyers racing to get their contracts noticed and accepted, all while the first-time home buyers tax credit quickly ticks away. The number of contracts written (offers) versus the number actually accepted and pushed to closing is the biggest indicator of this shifting market, as that ratio is at its highest level in years. My team recently sold a property at 13854 Laura Ratcliffe Ct. in Centreville, VA, which was listed for $235,868, but which actually closed on August 28th for well above asking price. The terms of the various offers made on that property exemplify these shifting trends:
Buyers were given one week to get their highest and best offers in and 8 were registered. The highest offer was for 265K w/ FHA financing, almost $30K above asking price. However, by the end of the week, the seller had accepted an offer of only 240K, the difference being that that contract had conventional financing and an EMD of 1% of the offer price.
This is a prime example of what prospective buyers are currently facing in this market, and with the obvious exception of the significantly depressed prices, it actually harkens back to the market we experienced in 2005-2006, at the ‘peak’ of the last up-cycle. The obvious difference is the lower prices, but with the $8,000 tax credit expiring soon, frantic buyers are scrambling and multiple contract ‘bidding war’ situations are slowly beginning to elevate prices. There are more qualified first-time home buyers now than ever before, and there simply are not enough affordable listings to satisfy that demand. Therefore, so-called “hot properties” (those which show well and which are priced at, or just below, current market value) are creating multiple offer bidding-war situations, and are often commanding premiums above current market value, particularly those priced below the critical $200K price point. Take for example a 3 bed/3.5 bath townhouse listing we currently have in Herndon: it was priced just below current market value at $202K, and we received 18 contracts within 6 days of listing! Although demand is particularly high for properties priced below $200K, due to the overall current low inventory across ALL price ranges, we are seeing similar ‘bidding wars’ even for “hot properties” in the luxury home markets. The low inventory can be attributed to the bank foreclosure moratoriums and a dearth of ‘retail’ or regular listings - since prices are lower, many potential sellers are simply holding off, hoping to see the market bounce back up before listing their homes. Thus, current ‘retail’ or regular listings consist primarily of only those sellers who really want and need to sell now – those who can afford to wait are generally doing so. That being said, I highly recommend to those who have to sell their home within the next year to do so NOW so as to take advantage of this enhanced buyer demand caused by the low inventory and the soon-to-expire first time home buyer tax credit. You will get maximum exposure and maximum contracts by listing now, again, the key being to make your property a “hot property” – that is, a property which is reasonably priced (ideally just below current market value), which is aggressively marketed, and which shows well so that it appraises under many different financing scenarios. While I don’t think we will find ourselves anywhere close to the 2005-2006 prices anytime in the near future, we are seeing positive signs in the current market, and it will be interesting to see how things shake out over the next year, as additional foreclosures will inevitably hit our market, and after the $8K first-time buyer tax credit expires on December 1st.
Finally, good luck to those first-time buyers out there. Remember, in order to compete with those cash investors who are swooping in and picking up many of the good deals, be sure to investigate all your funding options, to include 1) conventional whenever possible, 2) as much cash down as possible, 2) higher EMD amounts and 4) low or no concessions whenever possible. Cash buyers simply avoid a lot of the issues that buyers with FHA and other financing options engender, such as appraisal and underwriting requirements. Therefore, first time buyers should be sure to work with a competent lender and should discuss the multitude of creative ways to make your offer look stronger than the others!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

We Have a $500 Visa Cash Card WINNER!

Thanks to all our past clients, business partners and friends for their referrals of buyers and sellers over the past 6 months. Thanks to your help and kind words about our team, Jennifer Young Homes received 12 buyer referrals and 1 listing referral. Out of those connections, we closed 3 deals and are in the process of closing a SHORT SALE listing.
Now to the good part - at the beginning of the year, we offered up a $500 Visa Cash Card to be raffled off at the end of 6 months…after throwing all the names in a hat, we pulled our new friend and client, Roy Kaufmann’s, name. Thank you Roy and to everyone else for all of your support – and remember – we’re always running a referral promotion, so keep sending your friends, co-workers and family to us for GREAT service! You can email Jennifer Young directly at or call her cell at 703-400-6757.