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The Cash For Clunkers Numbers Are In, And It’s Not Pretty - 10/28/09 04:02 PM
An article today in the Wall Street Journal reported that the per car cost of the additional sales generated by the Cash For Clunkers program was approximately $24,000 per car. Wow! Perhaps it would have been better if we just gave each of the participants a car. We could have given them an American car, which would certainly have made a difference to the American auto industry.
Why bother with setting up a cumbersome program that stimulates foreign auto sales and costs enough to give the cars away. And the argument that we removed a greater number of older, polluting (28 comments)
What All Home Buyers Should Know About Neighborhood Recreation Facilities - 10/27/09 09:07 PM
If you are purchasing in a planned development, there may be a recreational facility, or one may be planned for the neighborhood. While such amenities are great, you must familiarize yourself with the facility, the management, and the documents pertaining to the facility. If the recreational package is planned but not yet constructed, find out what guarantees exist to insure construction. Builders and developers with the best of intentions sometimes get caught in adverse market conditions—such as the past two years—and find themselves short of cash. Good intentions will not construct a facility costing hundreds of thousands or even millions of (12 comments)
Waiting For Your Home Buyer Tax Refund? - 10/27/09 11:31 AM
In a recent POST I described the problem the IRS was having with fraudulent claims for the First Time Buyer Tax Credit. It seems that where the potential for abuse exists, some will take advantage of it.
And now that abuse is hurting those who legitimately earned their refund. In an effort to limit further fraud, the IRS is scrutinizing EVERY return which has dramatically slowed the process. An article on MarketWatch describes the problem and includes a phone number that taxpayers can call to check on the status of their return.
The Housing Guru: The one source for (11 comments)
Government Isn’t The Solution To Our Problems - 10/26/09 06:38 AM
The following is in response to a thoughtful, but I believe misguided post by James Wells, entitled “Our country is broke (in more ways than one), so how do we fix it?” In his post, James seems to think that more government control is what we need to solve the problems we face. I strongly disagree.
While I’m pleased to see that people are becoming more aware of our problems, I’m concerned at the number who seem to look to the government for solutions. I’m not an anarchist; I believe in a strong government, just not one that “strong arms” (70 comments)
Are We Surprised To Discover Fraud In The First Time Buyer Tax Credit? - 10/23/09 06:15 PM
A preliminary audit from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, TIGA, has uncovered as much as $500 million in fraud in the First Time Buyer Tax Credit. The audit has shown fraud to be both blatant and rampant, with thousands of aliens, hundreds of children, and as many as 53 IRS agents applying for the credit. There were also individuals who did not even own homes who received the credit.
What this demonstrates is the government’s inability to administer this program. Any time there are billions of taxpayer dollars involved and dishonest, incompetent, or indolent bureaucrats doling it out, (11 comments)
What Are Restrictive Covenants? - 10/23/09 10:11 AM
What are restrictive covenants? The key word here is “restrictive.” Homebuyers considering a purchase in a neighborhood with restrictive covenants should pay special attention to these documents. An outline of those areas where there may be limitations upon what you as a homeowner can do to or with your property, the document in some cases grants wide-ranging authority to the neighborhood association. Some of the most common items addressed are: fences, exterior modifications or painting, landscaping, storage buildings, outside antennas, displays, signage, and vehicle parking.
And don’t think you can just ignore the covenants. A well-crafted document grants the neighborhood (10 comments)
What Are Easements? - 10/23/09 09:11 AM
Often misunderstood, easements are powerful intrusions into real property (land). Easements grant others access to portions of your property, and if there are easements across the property you wish to purchase, you should fully understand their purpose.
While common easements exist across many properties—electric, gas, water, or surface drainage—their existence may grant access to others to provide service on the utility line or to maintain the flow of drainage. In such cases the authority to which the easement is granted may enter the property to make the necessary repairs, and you, as owner, must grant access. In some ways easements (9 comments)
There Are More Serious Concerns Than The Home Buyer Tax Credit - 10/22/09 08:03 AM
While we debate the relative merits of recent attempts to stimulate the housing market, there are more serious concerns that the home buyer tax credit. In fact, a far more serious issue looms with the potential to bring home sales and the economy to a screeching halt. Oil. The price of oil has been inching upwards for months and has now passed the $80 mark. And if this trend continues, the “green shoots” some have reported will wither and die.
The cause of the rise in oil prices is an influx of speculative money looking for a safe haven. As (14 comments)
New Home or Resale? - 10/21/09 05:52 PM
Should I purchase a new home or resale? The answer to that question depends upon the market, your specific preferences and your housing requirements. Although there is no simple answer, I’ll help you determine which may be best for you at any given time.
The first consideration is: What is available? Are there a sufficient number of new or used homes in the area where you want to live to provide you with a reasonable choice? You may have a pre-determined idea of whether you want new or used, but if there aren’t enough homes of your preference to consider, (2 comments)
Are You Sure You Don’t Need Flood Insurance? - 10/20/09 02:37 PM
Are You Sure You Don’t Need Flood Insurance? If you live in an area described as a “flood plain,” your lender will require you to purchase flood insurance. However, just because a survey doesn’t show your home as being in an area prone to flooding, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. In recent years more than one part of the country has been hit by what the experts call, “500 year floods,” areas that haven’t flooded for centuries. The latest of these occurred in Georgia and destroyed or damaged dozens of homes whose owners were unaware of any potential for flooding.
IRS Reports Widespread Abuse of First Time Buyer Tax Credit - 10/20/09 08:01 AM
With all the discussion about extending the First Time Buyer Tax Credit, there has been little talk about the potential for fraud and abuse. However investigations by the IRS have turned up more than 100,000 suspicious claims, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.
Unfortunately, when “free” money is being handed out by the government, many try to game the system and get in on the action.
The Housing Guru: The one source for all your housing questions (8 comments)
The most common type of partnership for home ownership is when two or more people jointly purchase a home and live together in the property. Most often the transaction involves two people who are also romantically partnered. While the idea sounds good up front—we all know that relationships never go sour—it can be a nightmare for those who decide to part company. There can be differences on how bills are to be shared, which repairs are needed, (12 comments)
Buyers' Remorse - 10/18/09 10:16 AM
If you’ve never made a large purchase before, you may no be familiar with the phenomenon of “buyers' remorse.” A second guessing after major purchases, buyer’s remorse sometimes causes panic among purchasers. If, after signing an offer to purchase, you do experience a few “butterflies” in the stomach and begin to focus upon the negative aspects of your decision, don’t be alarmed. Before you try to withdraw your offer, examine the reasons that caused you to make your initial offer to purchase. Look at the facts, and don’t let a good deal get away just because you developed a little case (14 comments)
Be Your Own Inspector . . . To A Point - 10/18/09 09:22 AM
Many of those seeking to purchase a home would like to have it inspected prior to giving it serious consideration, but don’t want to spend the extra money; and the answer is that you can be your own inspector . . . to a point. Of course you will still need the services of a home inspector once the final choice is made, but you don’t have to incur the expense of hiring someone for each home under consideration.
Anytime you purchase something you inspect it. Whether it’s a washing machine, TV, or automobile; everyone does some form of inspection (14 comments)
Home Buyers--Research Your Neighborhood Before You Buy - 10/17/09 01:24 PM
The Internet can be a valuable tool for home buyers, and the benefit extends far beyond the ability to preview homes or to help locate a good Realtor®. Want to know more about your new neighborhood before you commit? There’s lots of valuable information on the Internet with websites covering such pertinent topics as: Local weather UV index Air quality School district ratings and test scores Crime statistics Employment data Areas of highest appreciation Local income & education levels Earthquake and volcanic activity Toxic waste sites Tornadic activity
Reviewing such information could help avoid potential dangers, hazards, or other (12 comments)
Think Resale - 10/15/09 09:06 PM
A factor that is often overlooked when purchasing a home is the ease with which that home can be re-sold. While we may find wonderful homes in neighborhoods that meet our every requirement and plan to stay there for a lifetime, THINGS CHANGE. The unpredictable happens. Family sizes, relationships, work location, and lifestyles are not as permanent as we might wish and can change dramatically. Virtually all homes bought will be sold at some future time. Homebuyers should always think resale.
When selecting a home, the resale factor must be considered. Though the importance of resale may be less (6 comments)
Greed May Be Good For Wall Street, But Green Can Be Good At Home - 10/15/09 07:19 AM
With no end in sight for the continued escalation of energy prices and with increasing concern for our environment, more homeowners and buyers are looking to purchase “green” or “sustainable” or want to retrofit their existing homes to make them greener. Is green building a fad or a serious issue?
Green building is definitely for real and it’s here to stay. The issues surrounding it are important and look to both our individual financial security and the future environment of our planet. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), more and more builders are joining the green revolution (17 comments)
Selecting A Home Inspector, Part 2 - 10/13/09 01:52 PM
If you expect to benefit from the knowledge of a home inspector, you must choose yours carefully. Get recommendations from friends who have recently purchased homes, ask Realtors®, or go online and check with ashi.org for the American Society of Home Inspectors®. They can provide a list of certified home inspectors in your area. If your inspector is not a member of ASHI®, make certain that they are certified in the CABO building code and carry liability and errors and omissions insurance. If possible, interview at least three inspectors before making a decision. A brief phone conversation will sometimes alert you (3 comments)
Selecting A Home Inspector, Part 1 - 10/13/09 07:59 AM
Regardless of whether you’re buying a new home or a resale, you’ll want to have that home thoroughly inspected by a competent home inspector. All homes will have some hidden defects, and it’s the job of the inspector to discover as many of those as possible. I’m not referring to the superficial or cosmetic defects that you’ll find during a new home walk-thru. The kinds of problems you want your inspector to point out are those with the potential to create significant problems and which may be expensive to correct.
When I was building houses I often dealt with trusting (6 comments)
Beginning A Home Search Online - 10/12/09 09:11 PM
Once you are ready to begin a home search, type in the geographic area in which you are interested and you will be deluged with potential sites to visit. A quick check through some of them will help you to eliminate those that either don’t apply or are lacking in the content you need.
If this is your first time, you will be amazed at the information available. You can choose from dozens of real estate companies, and immediately begin previewing homes. Many of the sites will even provide a map of the area with each home’s location pin pointed. (5 comments)
Are We Hacking At Branches? - 10/12/09 02:42 PM
After more than a year of the Great Recession, many are pointing fingers at politicians, bankers, Wall Street tycoons, lobbyists, and at their neighbors for making financially irresponsible decisions. And what have we gained? Little of consequence.
Many seem to believe the problem doesn’t lie with us, but with a vague and indeterminate “them.” Few are willing to take personal responsibility for the nation’s problems and find it much easier to lament their plight, throwing up their hands in defeat. But they fail to acknowledge that: No single raindrop believes it is to blame for the flood.
Neither (22 comments)
Buying A Resale Home - 10/11/09 02:12 PM
If you plan on buying a resale home, the considerations are much the same as in purchasing new, with a few additional items to check. Resales encompass the greatest number of homes on the market. Their numbers include everything from a one or two-year old production home to a two-hundred year old historic restoration. They also include some homes which deny their age, having been so well maintained and updated that they compare favorably with, and sometimes better than, new homes.
But used homes, as the name implies, have been used, and sometimes that may mean dilapidated, in need of (7 comments)
Is A Condominium The Right Choice For You? - 10/11/09 01:26 PM
Is a condominium the right choice for you? Condominiums, or condos as most refer to them, homes that are located within a development area, and which are usually attached by common walls, offer both affordable housing and a carefree lifestyle. Such homes provide a form of ownership where you own your individual unit but share ownership of all common areas: recreation facilities, land, parking, etc. Because they are usually priced significantly less than traditional single-family homes—as much as 25% or more in some areas—condominiums are often viewed as a great option for first-time buyers.
As with other purchases though, condo (4 comments)
Can You Afford The Home You Want? - 10/10/09 07:58 PM
Do you have a stable income but wonder if you can afford the home your want? It may be helpful to do a quick calculation that can help you determine the price range that fits your financial situation. GROSS MONTHLY INCOME ________ SUBTRACT LONG-TERM OBLIGATIONS ________ (LONGER THAN 1 YEAR/MONTHLY PAYMENT AMT.) TOTAL ________ MULTIPLY TOTAL X (8 comments)
Can't Afford A Down Payment? Consider A Lease-Purchase - 10/10/09 05:27 PM
A way to take immediate possession of a home while spending little or no money up front is with a lease-purchase. Some sellers, particularly those whose need for immediate cash is not urgent, are willing to offer their homes on such a basis. In those cases buyers usually make a small down payment, which is later applied to the purchase price, and then make regular rent payments for a time agreed upon between both buyer and seller. A portion of each month’s rent, often one-third, is also applied towards the down payment. This option allows buyers with little up-front cash to (4 comments)
FHA--Another Example Of Government Mismanagement? - 10/09/09 03:20 PM
Critics of FHA are predicting the government mortgage giant could be next in line for a bailout, an article in today’s New York Times details. With the FHA recently assuming a significantly larger percentage of all mortgages—it now insures 23% of the nation’s mortgages versus only 2% in 2006—the agency suffers from a default rate now more than 8%, of its total.
Last month the reserve fund fell below the government mandated 2% of its portfolio, and on Thursday lawmakers grilled FHA Commissioner, David Stevens. While Mr. Stevens tried to dispel lawmakers’ concerns, the financial stability of the agency seems (8 comments)
The Atlanta Fed Expresses Concern Over Rising Commercial Defaults - 10/07/09 09:07 AM
A recent report issued by a real estate expert at the Atlanta Fed expresses concern over rising commercial loan defaults. With vacancies in apartments at a 23 year high, strip malls vacancies the highest in 17 years and with rising problems in office rentals, hotels, warehouses, and other commercial ventures, owners are faced with rapidly declining revenues.
Some experts have suggested that commercial real estate values will drop by 50% or more, and the falling values will make it impossible for owners to refinance. With approximately $3.5 trillion in outstanding commercial real estate loans, the Fed is concerned by the (14 comments)
Short Sellers Beware--Your Lender May Lie - 10/05/09 06:00 PM
Behind on your mortgage, underwater and thinking about a short sale for your home? Short sellers beware—your lender may lie. According to recent reports, almost 8% of all home mortgages are now at least 30 days past due; and with more than a million owners who haven’t made a payment in more than a year, the number of sellers attempting a short sale is increasing. With the hope of salvaging some dignity and a little of their credit rating, home owners are turning to short sale “specialists” to help them deal with the complex and often confusing procedures of many lenders. (15 comments)
Who Will Remain To Pick Up The Tab? - 10/05/09 04:34 PM
With almost half of all Americans owing no Federal Income Tax in 2009, who will remain to pick up the tab for our government’s unbridled spending? For politicians a trillion has now become the new billion. And amazingly, the number not paying tax isn’t shrinking; it’s growing rapidly. About a quarter of “taxpayers” will have a net liability of zero, including Medicare and Social Security taxes, according to a report on CNN Money.
There is growing concern from a few in DC, and which is more widespread among economists and other non-politicians, that many of our “leaders” are ignoring the (14 comments)
The Effect Of Unemployment Upon Housing For 2010 - 10/02/09 07:34 AM
For the eighth consecutive month, year over year job losses have increased in all 372 U.S. metropolitan areas, and many are concerned about the effect of unemployment upon housing for 2010. How do job losses relate to the recovery and, more importantly, to the coming year? As a lagging indicator, employment is said to follow the economy, so it’s logical that we not expect joblessness to decline until the economy is improving. However, while employment may follow economic trends, it is an important indicator of what we can expect in the short term; and the relationship to the housing market is (96 comments)
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