Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mortgage Interest Deduction - is it still Vunerable?

Possibly. Even though the report from the Commission for Deficit Reduction will not go to Congress for an automatic vote, there is the possibility that individual pieces of it -- such as curbing the mortgage interest deduction -- could be included in the proposed budget that will be sent to Congress in January. 

Click here to read "Plan to Curb MID Remains in Play" by Robert Freedman, Senior Editor of REALTOR Magazine and to watch short video from REALTORTV.

Click here to read "Commentary: Mortgage Interest and Real Estate Tax Deduction Facts" by Danielle Hale, posted on  This is a sobering look at what impact losing the MID might have on the economy and housing market.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Financing in Today's Mortgage Market...

ALL I WANT TO DO IS BUY A HOUSE! - a good article about today's mortgage market.
Years ago, when someone applied for a mortgage they had to have money in the bank and proof of just about everything.  Then, somewhere along the way, lenders relaxed their lending requirements, didn't follow up to verify income or debt, and lent money just based on the value of a home.  Due to the mortgage meltdown, those days of just filling out an application and expecting to get a mortgage are gone.  The reality if you want to by a home?  It is a great time... low rates, low prices.  But be prepared to be able to show proof of income, show months worth of bank statements, tax returns and other various documents to prove to a lender that you are credit-worthy.  Lenders will also want to see money for a downpayment and closing costs readily available.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

FTC Issues new rule to help protect consumers from loan modification scams

You have probably seen the ads for loan-modification firms that say they can get your loan modified, save you from losing your house, cut your interest rate, get you a short sale, or get your loan reduced.  Many of these firms will charge you thousands of dollars and pay up front, and then do very little or nothing to help you.  The FTC has issued a new rule called "MARS" (Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule) to help protect struggling homeowners -- most significantly, this new rule bans these mortgage-relief type-companies from collecting advance fees.  Mortgage relief companies must contact your lender and provide a written offer from the lender that the consumer deems acceptable prior to collecting a fee for this service. These mortgage modification companies also must now let you know that they are not associated with the government and are not allowed to keep clients from communicating with their lender. See the FTC website for more detail and info. 

These rules should help, but always beware of any company asking you for a fee in exchange for loan modification or counseling on a mortgage loan.  Assistance from a HUD-approved counselor through the Making Home Affordable program is always free.  See the Making Home Affordable website for more information.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Healthcare Law and Real Estate Tax

After the new health care bill passed earlier this year, there have been many emails making the rounds talking about the 3.8% tax that will be imposed on the sale of real estate starting January 2013, the purpose of which is to help pay for the cost of implementing the new law.  There are bits of truth and rumor in many of these emails.  It is true that the 3.8% tax exists ... it is not true that this tax will affect all, or even most, real estate transactions.  However, if you make an AGI of over $200,000, there is a possibility that it may affect you.  The National Association of Realtors has put together an excellent brochure to help clarify the ramifications of this new law and to give examples of the impact of this tax.  As always, you should consult with your tax advisor for advice regarding your individual situation.

Click here to see the NAR Tax Brochure.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Realty Times - FHA's Rehabilitation Program

Realty Times - FHA's Rehabilitation Program

This is a good article about the FHA's Section 203(k) loan program.   For a homebuyer (investors are not eligible) seeking a "bargain" home that may need to be completely renovated, this program may offer an option that lets homebuyers finance both the purchase price of the home and the cost of renovation (rehab).  There are restrictions on eligibility, how much can be borrowed, time period for construction, etc. For more information, see the information listed under "Home Improvements -- Federal Loan Programs" on HUD's website:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Real Estate Market Statistics for Northern Virginia Association of Realtors® (NVAR) | RBI

Real Estate Market Statistics for Northern Virginia Association of Realtors® (NVAR) RBI

Click the link for the September 2010 summary for Northern Virginia. The good news from the report? The Median Sold price increase from $375,000 in 2009 to $395,000 in 2010, and the average days on market has decreased from 63 in 2009 to 54 in 2010.

Certain member of the armed forces may still be eligible for the 2009 first time homebuyer tax credit

As many people know, the first-time homebuyer credit (otherwise known as the "Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009" as signed into law on 6 Nov 2009, extending and expanding the previous first time homeowner credit) required an eligible individual to have a ratified contract by 30 April 2010, and thus has long since expired for most taxpayers.  However, if you are a member of the armed forces who was assigned overseas for 90 days or more between the dates of 31 Dec 2008 and 1 May 2010, you may have an extra year to qualify for the credit.  According to the IRS website:
"Members of the military and certain other federal employees serving outside the U.S. have an extra year to buy a principal residence in the U.S. and qualify for the credit. Thus, an eligible taxpayer must buy, or enter into a binding contract to buy, a principal residence on or before April 30, 2011. If a binding contract is entered into by that date, the taxpayer has until June 30, 2011, to close on the purchase. Members of the uniformed services, members of the Foreign Service and employees of the intelligence community are eligible for this special rule. It applies to any individual (and, if married, the individual’s spouse) who serves on qualified official extended duty service outside of the United States for at least 90 days during the period beginning after Dec. 31, 2008, and ending before May 1, 2010. "
Additional details can be found at the IRS website:  First-Time Homebuyer Credit: Members of the Military and Certain Other Federal Employees