The number of houses sold in metro Baton Rouge in April was up nearly 18% from the year before, as first-time homebuyers flocked to cash in on a tax credit for buying properties. There were 691 houses sold in April, according to figures from the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service, compared with 586 MLS sales in April 2009. And despite an increase in first-time buyers, the average sale price was also higher than the year before, from $185,641 to $192,974. Livingston Parish saw the biggest sales gain, jumping up by 67%, from 83 sales to 139. The average sale price in Livingston was slightly lower, dropping from $171,237 to $169,038. Ascension Parish home sales increased from 114 in April 2009 to 124, while the city-parish had the highest average sale price at $217,216, a 7% increase from the year before. East Baton Rouge had the highest sales volume, at 383 MLS deals, compared with 352 from April 2009. The average sale price was $198,061, compared with $182,540. The other category, which includes MLS sales in parishes such as West Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee and the Felicianas, saw a gain from 37 sales in 2009 to 45 last month; the average sale price dropped to $156,813 from $193,002. Local Realtors say the Capital Region’s market has rebounded to post-Katrina levels. Through the first four months of the year, home sales are running ahead of 2009, with 2,100 MLS transactions taking place, compared with 2,017 the year before. The average sale price was also up slightly, from $191,015 in 2009 to $192,602. —Timothy Boone
Question: Existing homeowner credit: Must the new house cost more than the old house?
Answer: No. Thus, for example, individuals who move from a high cost area to a lower cost area who
meet all eligibility requirements will qualify for the $6500 credit.
Question: I am an existing homeowner. On October 25, 2009, I signed a contract to purchase a
new home. I have lived in my current home for more than 5 consecutive years and
am within the new income limits. I will go to settlement on November 20. If
President Obama has signed the bill by the time I go to settlement, will I qualify for
the new $6500 tax credit?
Answer: Yes. The existing homeowner credit goes into effect for purchases after the date of enactment
(when the bill is signed). There is no reference to the date of contract for the new credit. The
provision looks solely to the date of purchase, which is generally the date of settlement.
Question: I am a firsttime
homebuyer but was not within the prior income limits at the time I
entered into my contract to purchase on October 30, 2009. I will be covered,
however, by the new income limits. If the new rules have been signed into law by the
time I go to settlement, will I be eligible for a credit?
Answer: Yes. The new income limitations go into effect as soon as the President has signed the bill.
The income limit and other eligibility rules will look to your status as of the date of purchase,
which is the settlement date. So if the new rules have been signed when you go to settlement,
you should be eligible for the credit (or a portion of the credit if you’re within the phaseout
Question: I am an eligible existing homeowner. I have a fair amount of equity in my home. I
have found a home with a nonnegotiable
price of $825,000. Will I be able to use any
of the $6500 tax credit?
Answer: No. The $800,000 cap on the cost of the purchased home is firm at $800,000. Any amount
above $800,000 makes the home ineligible for any portion of the credit. The $800,000 is an
Question: I owned my home for 10 years, but sold it two years ago year and have been renting
since. If I purchase a home, will I be eligible for the $6500 tax credit if I meet all the
other eligibility tests?
Answer: Yes. Because you lived in the home for more than 5 consecutive years of the previous 8, you
will qualify for the $6500 credit. For example, Say John and his wife bought a home in 2000
and lived there until 2008 when he got a divorce. Whether John has been renting or bought in
the interim, he WOULD INDEED be eligible for the credit because he owned a home and
occupied it as his principal residence for 5 consecutive years out of the last 8 years. The
keyword here is “consecutive.” As long as he lived in that house for 5 years straight what he
did since 3 years doesn’t impact eligibility.
Question: I am an eligible firsttime
homebuyer. I entered into a contract to purchase on
November 1, 2009. Do I have to go to closing before December 1? How does the
extension date affect me?
Answer: You do not have to close before December 1. Once the legislation has been signed, it will be as
if the Nov 30 date had never existed. Therefore, so long as the contract settles before April 30
(or July 1, worst case), the purchaser will be eligible for the credit
Ok, EVERYONE is aware of the homebuyer tax credit ending NOV 30th. But, I want to stress the point that we essentially have 2-3 weeks to get a home under contract! If you aren’t searching for homes, I highly suggest you start TODAY. Everyone will be cramming in to get their loans complete before the deadline. FHA loans are taking a little longer than usual so don’ t put yourself at risk. Go to my site, www.timhouk.com, start searching for homes. Contact me and then we will get out and preview some homes. Unless you have a home picked out today, it will be about 6 weeks before we close. 1-2 weeks to find and negotiate a contract and then a typical 4 week closing period. Hurry before its TOO LATE! Here are a few steps that could speed up the process:
1. Go ahead and contact your lender to get pre-approved. If you don’t know a good lender, I have many.
2. Locate your past 2 years tax returns and last 2 months pay stubs as the lender will need them to get started.
3. Once your lender determines your price range, then think about the areas you want to live in.
4. Start searching for homes on my site
5. Lastly, CALL me! 225.301.7467
I look forward to hearing from you!
From the Baton Rouge Business Report:
B.R. home prices continuing to rise
“After posting a slight drop, Baton Rouge home prices are continuing to rise above 2008 numbers. Capital Region home prices rose by 1.74% in June, when compared to the year before, according to First American CoreLogic’s LoanPerformance Home Price Index. That’s better than the 7.8% decrease reported in the index nationwide. June’s numbers come after Baton Rouge home prices were down 1.61% in May, compared to May 2008. Louisiana’s index was up 0.6% in June, the sixth highest gain of any state. West Virginia saw the biggest increase, with the index going up 3.35%. Nevada and Florida had the biggest decreases in home prices, with the index showing drops of more than 25%. First American bases its Home Price Index on public records sources such as property sales, tax assessments and mortgage filings.”
Not tooting my own horn, but I am busier now that I have been in a very long time, as are MANY other agents. It is a great time to purchase in Baton Rouge and surrounding area’s. While there are SOME financing difficulties that can arise, don’t let that discourage you from jumping at a GREAT opportunity!
This article explains the pitfalls with appraisals currently. To those not aware, appraisers are no longer chosen by the lenders. Instead it is a lottery system that may get you an appraiser that is not from where you live which can cause serious pitfalls. I am not saying the sky is falling…but there are issues out there and this helps explain why.
This article is from the Wall Street Journal:
After being blamed for helping to inflate home values during the housing boom, the appraisal business is again coming under fire.
Squeezed by a drop in fees, some appraisers are compensating by driving long distances to handle more assignments. Their wanderings are raising questions about whether they know enough about the neighborhoods to accurately assess the value of homes—which has implications for both home buyers and owners.
Bob Blake, a flight-test engineer who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., was shocked when an appraiser who traveled 44 miles from Port St. Lucie, Fla., valued his home at $228,000 in late May. Mr. Blake’s mortgage broker, Skip McDonough, protested to the appraisal-management company, Nations Valuation Services Inc., that the appraiser had failed to look at comparable homes. Eventually, Nations sent another appraiser, who valued the home at $295,000. The dispute delayed Mr. Blake’s refinancing by more than six weeks.
A spokesman for Nations Valuation declined to discuss the details of the appraisals but said, “We feel we handled it properly.”
Appraisals are supposed to shield home buyers from paying too much and lenders from overestimating the value of collateral. If appraisals come in too high, buyers may overpay, making defaults more likely. If they are too low, it becomes hard to sell or refinance homes. Many real-estate agents and builders say that the pendulum has swung too far toward caution, and that lowball appraisals threaten to snuff out any recovery in the housing market.
In June, Evie Salazar traveled about 75 miles from her office in Corona, Calif., to do an appraisal in Cathedral City, Calif. Usually, Ms. Salazar says, she tries to work within about 40 miles of her home, but business was slow at the time she accepted that job. “You do what you’ve got to do at times to feed the family and pay the bills,” she says.
Ms. Salazar, an appraiser for the past 12 years, says she researched the Cathedral City market carefully and did a good job. But many real estate agents and mortgage brokers charge that some wandering appraisers are coming up with dubious estimates. Too many appraisers are getting assignments in places where they “just don’t know the nuances,” says Rick Turley, who oversees the San Francisco Bay area for the Coldwell Banker real-estate-brokerage chain.
The debate over appraisals is inflamed by a natural tension: Real-estate agents and mortgage brokers, who need to complete transactions to collect their fees, are unhappy when an appraiser nixes the sale price. But it also suggests that there may be unintended consequences to an attempt by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to reform the appraisal business.
Using the threat of litigation, Mr. Cuomo last year prodded the government-backed mortgage investors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into adopting a new code of conduct for appraisers. Since those two companies provide funding for the bulk of U.S. home mortgages, the code, which took effect May 1, has become the national standard for most home loans.
The code bars loan officers, mortgage brokers or real-estate agents from any role in selecting appraisers. One result is that more lenders have outsourced the selection to appraisal-management companies, or AMCs, which take a sizable cut of the appraisal fee, often 40% or more. The AMCs pay appraisers as little as $175 to $200 per assignment, compared with the $350 or more that many get when they work directly for a lender.
“Many appraisers are struggling to survive on the fees paid by the AMCs,” says Bill Garber, a spokesman for the Appraisal Institute, a trade group based in Chicago. Appraisers are being asked to work faster even as their fees are cut, and that conflicts with the goal of getting reliable appraisals, he says.
Appraisal-management companies deny they are squeezing appraisers too hard. A spokesman for banking giant Wells Fargo & Co., which owns an AMC, says it “has invested substantial time and resources in the quality control of the valuation process to, among other things, ensure that individual appraisers have relevant knowledge of the markets and properties they review.” A spokeswoman for Mr. Cuomo says the new code is working well and helping protect appraisers from pressure to inflate estimates.
Appraisers are required to follow a set of national rules known as the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. Among other things, those rules require that “an appraiser preparing an appraisal in an unfamiliar location must spend sufficient time to understand the nuances of the local market.”
Yet some appraisers who travel long distances to find work may be hard-pressed to spend “sufficient time” in an unfamiliar market. LaRon Hall did an appraisal in early June on a home being sold in Palm Desert, Calif., about 86 miles from his office in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. He says he needs to accept jobs within a broad swath of Southern California to earn a living. Under the new appraisal code, Mr. Hall says, “you’re getting less money and you’re having to do more. … It’s definitely a sticky situation.”
Mr. Hall appraised the three-bedroom home at $186,000, far above the $138,000 for which it sold in late June. Concerned about accuracy, the mortgage lender that financed the purchase rejected Mr. Hall’s appraisal and ordered one from another party before making the loan, according to a person involved in the transaction.
A spokesman for Equifax Inc., whose AMC unit ordered the appraisal in Palm Desert, says Mr. Hall has an excellent record on appraisals and that Equifax has a “rigorous quality-control process.”
Though consumers can’t choose their own appraiser—unless they’re paying cash for a home—they should request a copy of the appraisal and examine it to see whether it contains any errors in the description of the property and whether the nearby homes, or “comps,” used to gauge its value are truly comparable. If they aren’t, the consumer should present any evidence of flaws to the banks and insist that the appraisal be reviewed and redone if necessary.
Carol Kearns, herself a real- estate agent, complains that an appraisal done on her own Montvale, N.J., home in June was “an unprofessional guess.” The appraisal came in at $730,000, which was more than enough to qualify Ms. Kearns and her husband, Robert, to refinance their mortgage. But Ms. Kearns, upset at what she sees as sloppy work, maintains that the home is worth more than $900,000.
The appraiser was Uchenna Eboh, whose employer, Kobi Group, is about 46 miles away in Mendham, N.J. Ms. Kearns says Mr. Eboh didn’t seem to know her neighborhood and used dissimilar houses as “comps.” Among those, she says, were two on much smaller lots and one on a busy street corner.
A colleague of Mr. Eboh says he couldn’t comment and referred questions about the appraisal to the AMC that ordered it, Lender Processing Services Inc.’s LSI unit. A spokeswoman for LPS says the appraisal “followed the processes required” by federal standards and LSI’s “more-stringent requirements.” She says LSI “only uses local, knowledgeable appraisers located within a reasonable proximity to the properties.”
Sometimes appraisers are called on to express opinions on the values of faraway homes without even seeing them. LandSafe, an appraisal unit of Bank of America Corp., in May assigned Jane Price, an appraiser in Dallas, to review another appraiser’s estimate of a home in Cathedral City, Calif. Ms. Price didn’t visit the neighborhood in question, but her review cited nearby homes she used to determine comparable value.
Ms. Price declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Bank of America says Ms. Price was asked to do only a “desktop review” of the original appraisal. “California is a state which has a lot of market information available, which allows a reviewer to gather credible data about a property even when they are not in the immediate area,” the spokeswoman adds.
Gooood afternoon. Just an update that I will be posting some fantastic new listings tomorrow or later today. 1 Commercial building and 2 homes.
what a great day at Keller Williams Redstick Partners!
Just pulled up a few foreclosures in/around baton rouge that were under 150k. Use this link to review the listings. Call me with any questions!
Here is the scoop on the Tax credit program:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 phaseout 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.
- What is “modified adjusted gross income”?
Modified adjusted gross income or MAGI is defined by the IRS. To find it, a taxpayer must first determine “adjusted gross income” or AGI. AGI is total income for a year minus certain deductions (known as “adjustments” or “above-the-line deductions”), but before itemized deductions from Schedule A or personal exemptions are subtracted. On Forms 1040 and 1040A, AGI is the last number on page 1 and first number on page 2 of the form. For Form 1040-EZ, AGI appears on line 4 (as of 2007). Note that AGI includes all forms of income including wages, salaries, interest income, dividends and capital gains.
To determine modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), add to AGI certain amounts of foreign-earned income. See IRS Form 5405 for more details.
- If my modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is above the limit, do I qualify for any tax credit?
Possibly. It depends on your income. Partial credits of less than $8,000 are available for some taxpayers whose MAGI exceeds the phaseout limits.
- Can you give me an example of how the partial tax credit is determined?
Just as an example, assume that a married couple has a modified adjusted gross income of $160,000. The applicable phaseout to qualify for the tax credit is $150,000, and the couple is $10,000 over this amount. Dividing $10,000 by the phaseout range of $20,000 yields 0.5. When you subtract 0.5 from 1.0, the result is 0.5. To determine the amount of the partial first-time home buyer tax credit that is available to this couple, multiply $8,000 by 0.5. The result is $4,000.
Here’s another example: assume that an individual home buyer has a modified adjusted gross income of $88,000. The buyer’s income exceeds $75,000 by $13,000. Dividing $13,000 by the phaseout range of $20,000 yields 0.65. When you subtract 0.65 from 1.0, the result is 0.35. Multiplying $8,000 by 0.35 shows that the buyer is eligible for a partial tax credit of $2,800.
Please remember that these examples are intended to provide a general idea of how the tax credit might be applied in different circumstances. You should always consult your tax advisor for information relating to your specific circumstances.
- How is this home buyer tax credit different from the tax credit that Congress enacted in July of 2008?
The most significant difference is that this tax credit does not have to be repaid. Because it had to be repaid, the previous “credit” was essentially an interest-free loan. This tax incentive is a true tax credit. However, home buyers must use the residence as a principal residence for at least three years or face recapture of the tax credit amount. Certain exceptions apply.
- 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.
- 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.
- I read that the tax credit is “refundable.” What does that mean?
The fact that the credit is refundable means that the home buyer credit can be claimed even if the taxpayer has little or no federal income tax liability to offset. Typically this involves the government sending the taxpayer a check for a portion or even all of the amount of the refundable tax credit.
For example, if a qualified home buyer expected, notwithstanding the tax credit, federal income tax liability of $5,000 and had tax withholding of $4,000 for the year, then without the tax credit the taxpayer would owe the IRS $1,000 on April 15th. Suppose now that the taxpayer qualified for the $8,000 home buyer tax credit. As a result, the taxpayer would receive a check for $7,000 ($8,000 minus the $1,000 owed).
- I purchased a home in early 2009 and have already filed to receive the $7,500 tax credit on my 2008 tax returns. How can I claim the new $8,000 tax credit instead?
Home buyers in this situation may file an amended 2008 tax return with a 1040X form. You should consult with a tax advisor to ensure you file this return properly.
- Instead of buying a new home from a home builder, I hired a contractor to construct a home on a lot that I already own. Do I still qualify for the tax credit?
Yes. For the purposes of the home buyer tax credit, a principal residence that is constructed by the home owner is treated by the tax code as having been “purchased” on the date the owner first occupies the house. In this situation, the date of first occupancy must be on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009.
In contrast, for newly-constructed homes bought from a home builder, eligibility for the tax credit is determined by the settlement date.
- Can I claim the tax credit if I finance the purchase of my home under a mortgage revenue bond (MRB) program?
Yes. The tax credit can be combined with the MRB home buyer program. Note that first-time home buyers who purchased a home in 2008 may not claim the tax credit if they are participating in an MRB program.
- I live in the District of Columbia. Can I claim both the Washington, D.C. first-time home buyer credit and this new credit?
No. You can claim only one.
- I am not a U.S. citizen. Can I claim the tax credit?
Maybe. Anyone who is not a nonresident alien (as defined by the IRS), who has not owned a principal residence in the previous three years and who meets the income limits test may claim the tax credit for a qualified home purchase. The IRS provides a definition of “nonresident alien” in IRS Publication 519.
- Is a tax credit the same as a tax deduction?
No. A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in what the taxpayer owes. That means that a taxpayer who owes $8,000 in income taxes and who receives an $8,000 tax credit would owe nothing to the IRS.
A tax deduction is subtracted from the amount of income that is taxed. Using the same example, assume the taxpayer is in the 15 percent tax bracket and owes $8,000 in income taxes. If the taxpayer receives an $8,000 deduction, the taxpayer’s tax liability would be reduced by $1,200 (15 percent of $8,000), or lowered from $8,000 to $6,800.
- I bought a home in 2008. Do I qualify for this credit?
No, but if you purchased your first home between April 9, 2008 and January 1, 2009, you may qualify for a different tax credit. Please consult with your tax advisor for more information.
- Is there any way for a home buyer to access the money allocable to the credit sooner than waiting to file their 2009 tax return?
Yes. Prospective home buyers who believe they qualify for the tax credit are permitted to reduce their income tax withholding. Reducing tax withholding (up to the amount of the credit) will enable the buyer to accumulate cash by raising his/her take home pay. This money can then be applied to the downpayment.
Buyers should adjust their withholding amount on their W-4 via their employer or through their quarterly estimated tax payment. IRS Publication 919 contains rules and guidelines for income tax withholding. Prospective home buyers should note that if income tax withholding is reduced and the tax credit qualified purchase does not occur, then the individual would be liable for repayment to the IRS of income tax and possible interest charges and penalties.
Further, rule changes made as part of the economic stimulus legislation allow home buyers to claim the tax credit and participate in a program financed by tax-exempt bonds. Some state housing finance agencies have introduced programs that provide short-term credit acceleration loans that may be used to fund a downpayment. Prospective home buyers should inquire with their state housing finance agency to determine the availability of such a program in their community.
The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) has compiled a list of such programs, which can be found here.
- The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development has announced that HUD will allow “monetization” of the tax credit. What does that mean?
It means that HUD will allow buyers to apply their anticipated tax credit toward their home purchase immediately rather than waiting until they file their 2009 income taxes to receive a refund. These funds may be used for certain downpayment and closing cost expenses.
Under the guidelines announced by HUD, non-profits and FHA-approved lenders will be allowed to give home buyers short-term loans of up to $8,000.
The guidelines also allow longer term loans secured by second liens to be used by government agencies, such as state housing finance agencies, to facilitate home sales.
Housing finance agencies and other government entities may issue tax credit loans, the funds of which home buyers may use to satisfy the FHA 3.5% downpayment requirement.
In addition, approved FHA lenders will also be able to purchase a home buyer’s anticipated tax credit to pay closing costs and downpayment costs above the 3.5% downpayment that is required for FHA-insured homes.
More information about the guidelines is available on the NAHB web site. Read the HUD mortgagee letter (pdf) and an explanation of the FHA Mortgagee Letter on Tax Credit Monetization (pdf). An FAQ about monetization (pdf) is available at the NAHB web site.
- If I’m qualified for the tax credit and buy a home in 2009, can I apply the tax credit against my 2008 tax return?
Yes. The law allows taxpayers to choose (“elect”) to treat qualified home purchases in 2009 as if the purchase occurred on December 31, 2008. This means that the 2008 income limit (MAGI) applies and the election accelerates when the credit can be claimed (tax filing for 2008 returns instead of for 2009 returns). A benefit of this election is that a home buyer in 2009 will know their 2008 MAGI with certainty, thereby helping the buyer know whether the income limit will reduce their credit amount.
Taxpayers buying a home who wish to claim it on their 2008 tax return, but who have already submitted their 2008 return to the IRS, may file an amended 2008 return claiming the tax credit. You should consult with a tax professional to determine how to arrange this.
- For a home purchase in 2009, can I choose whether to treat the purchase as occurring in 2008 or 2009, depending on in which year my credit amount is the largest?
Yes. If the applicable income phaseout would reduce your home buyer tax credit amount in 2009 and a larger credit would be available using the 2008 MAGI amounts, then you can choose the year that yields the largest credit amount.
Fantastic new listing off of Staring Lane in Baton Rouge! This 3 bedroom home has been completely renovated and updated. Priced well below appraised value, this house is move in ready. Not to mention a bonus room outside with slate floors that would be GREAT for entertaining. Fantastic for a first time homebuyer or someone looking to downsize.