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Chapel Hill and Durham Real Estate Blog

Chapel Hill - Durham Real Estate Blog

Jodi Bakst

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Homebuyers Get Extra Credit

by Jodi Bakst

In a vote-gaining, economy-stimulating, home-market-reviving move, the Senate is getting ready to put the official “yes” on the new homebuyer tax credit. That official affirmative could come as early as the weekend. Nobody is totally certain on the details, but here is a past, present, and future perspective of what things look like.

 

Past:  What kind of an impact did the original tax credit have?

The original first time homebuyer tax credit made a big splash, no doubt. It offered a tax credit of eight thousand dollars to any buyer purchasing their first home. The credit was only for those who earned up to $75,000 (for singles) or $150,000 (combined income for couples). According to the analysis, the tax credit, ending in less than a month, had an extensive ripple effect on the economy. It began with first-time homebuyers, many of whom were enabled to purchase a home for the first time. The effect spread to others in the housing industry. Despite the benefits, the first-time homebuyer tax credit wasn’t able to reverse the economic bête noir.

 

Present:  What does the current tax credit look like?

Politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, plus financial professionals, both liberal and conservative, converged on a decision to reinstate the tax credit. The new-and-improved version for 2010 has some significant improvements and expansions. The hope is that it will prompt an even greater economic impact. Here’s what it looks like:

 

·        The original $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers will be extended.

·        First time homebuyer income levels are raised. Now, buyers’ income must be $125,000 or less for individuals and $225,000 for couples.

·        Home sales must be signed, if not closed, by April 30, 2010 in order to qualify for the credit. The closing must take place before July 1.

·        In a daring new move, Congress is set to approve an enhancement to the current plan. Now, move up buyers—previous homeowners who are looking to purchase a bigger or better home—will also qualify.

·        The tax credit for move up buyers is $6,500.

·        In order to qualify, the move up buyer must have been living in his or her current residence for at least five years.

·        The income cap for move up buyers is the same as for first-time homebuyers—$125,000 and $225,000 for individuals and couples, respectively.

 

Future:  What will be the impact of the revamped tax credit?

Since no crystal balls are forthcoming, nobody can say for sure. All we can say with confidence is that the bipartisan atmosphere is optimistic. Naysayers exist, as they always, do. However, most of the naysaying focuses on the tax credit price tag— $10 billion by most estimates—rather than on the long-term economic impact of the program. As the bill makes its progress through the government, we can anticipate a noticeable uptick in the real estate market rather soon.

 

Click here to learn more about Team Jodi

Click here to view Team Jodi's Chapel Hill Real Estate and Durham Homes for Sale

Click here to Search homes for sale in Chapel Hill and Durham and the surrounding Triangle NC area 

Outstanding New Team Jodi Listing in Southern Village

by Jodi Bakst
Team Jodi has just listed a gracious Charleston Style home in Chapel Hill's Southern Village.  This home is lovely in every detail and it is very convienently located in the neighborhood.  It is 1.5 blocks to downtown with shops, restaurants, a movie theater, grocery store, Scroggs Elementary and Chapel Hill Day Care and it is also very close to the neighborhood pool/tennis and walking trails.
 
 
 
Click here to learn more about Team Jodi

Click here to view Team Jodi's Chapel Hill Real Estate and Durham Homes for Sale

Click here to Search homes for sale in Chapel Hill and Durham and the surrounding Triangle NC area

Buyer Agency Agreements: Can They Be Terminated?

by Jodi Bakst

Interestingly enough, North Carolina’s Buyer Agency Agreements do not have a termination clause.  I am not sure why not.  In selecting a buyer agent to represent your interests, you want to make sure that you work with an agent that is a good fit and who does what she or he says they are going to do. 

If a Buyer Agent is not meeting your expectations, I think it is very important to do two things.  First, communication is the name of the game.  Make sure you let your agent know what is not working for you.  Second, give your agent a chance to correct the problem.

It is my policy to never twist someone’s arm into doing something they don’t want to do.  I always let my clients know that either party can terminate an Agency agreement if it is not working.  I never want this to happen so this is my way of keeping my feet to the fire.

My recommendation is to discuss with any agent you are interviewing or working with what their policy is on whether or not a Buyer Agency Agreement can be terminated.  My answer is yes you can, it all comes down, however, to how you do it.

“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like”…Another Tax Credit

by Jodi Bakst

Argue it if you must, but the much-talked-over first time home buyer tax credit continuance looks a lot more likely. Those watching carefully will recall that the House recently passed a bill which extends the $8,000 homebuyer’s credit for a select class: military personnel, diplomats, and intelligence staff serving overseas. The news comes not just as a refreshing relief for these civil workers, but as a premonition of good times for the rest of the nation.

 

The first-time homebuyer tax credit will expire next month, and go down in the history books as a benefit to over a million taxpayers who were able to finally move into a home they can call their own. But it may not be the end of the chapter.

 

We take the easy passage of the bill as a presage of passing more and similar bills. Several congressional leaders have already drafted plans of bills that would extend the first-time homebuyer tax credit, increase the first-time homebuyer tax credit, or other variations on the same theme.

 

In a closed-door confab in the Oval Office last week, President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid, et. al., discussed, among other things, the impact that an extended housing bill could have on the economy at large. Clearly, advantages would abound, and the meeting seemed to affirm this, though no promises or official announcements were made.

 

What stands in the way of a first-time homebuyer tax credit extension? Or any homebuyer tax-credit extension for that matter? Couldn’t the stymied housing market use some more governmental CPR? After these events, the answer is beginning to sound more like “yes.”

 

But there may be obstacles.

 

Billion dollar line items no longer evoke coughing paroxysms, even among the most ferociously fiscal conservatives, but the price tag of the proposed tax-credit extension is a big one: $30B at least. And $30B may just be a show stopper.  We should have the answer to this question soon. 

 

I will keep you posted!

 

A while back, I discussed the first-time home buyers tax credit. With recent news on the issue, it’s time for an update.

 

·        Fact: The $8,000 first-time homebuyers tax credit is due to expire on November 30, 2009

·        Fact: Only those homebuyers who close on their home on or before November 30 will receive the credit.

·        Fact: Robert Gibbs, White House Press Secretary, on October 5, 2009 made reference to the possibility of the homebuyers tax credit possibly extended.

 

But, as he should, Gibbs employed political-speak, an elite language reserved for earth-shaking ambiguities, and oblique announcements. The inconclusive nature of his foreshadowing leads us to the obvious question:

 

Will the U.S. government extend the first-time homebuyer’s credit into 2010?

 

Obviously, a lot is riding on this question. No matter how you slice it, $8,000 for a first-time homebuyer is a lot of cash and provides them with sufficient motivation for first-time homebuyers to go forward with a purchase. Some attribute nearly 400,000 home purchases by first time homebuyers to the tax credit. Realtors, investors, builders, and lenders, and other fiduciaries, are all equally interested in the outcome of the decision.  In July, I posted information about the specific bills being considered in Congress on extending the home buyer tax credit.

 

Some proposals go beyond merely extending the original tax credit. Some congressional lobbyists have proposed raising the credit to $15,000, opening it up to any homebuyer (even if they aren’t a first-time homebuyer), removing the income restrictions for eligibility for the tax credit, and making it available for an additional year. North Carolina’s Howard Coble (R-6th District) is one of the strongest proponents for a tax credit of this nature.

 

To help answer the question of whether or not it will happen, let’s stack up some evidence on either side.

 

Evidence in favor of extending the tax credit:

1.      Robert Gibbs’s comments, most naturally understood, would lead us to believe that Congress does plan to extend the tax credit.

2.      No less than three proposals, all from bipartisan sources, have been submitted in the past three months proposing a higher tax credit ($15,000) or maintaining the current credit into 2010.

3.      Extending the credit will most likely improve the condition of the housing industry, which is a dire economic need. An improved housing industry will contribute to an overall revitalized economy.

4.      Maintaining the tax credit is the only way to sustain the upward momentum that the first tax credit introduced.

 

Evidence against extending the tax credit:

1.      Maintaining the tax credit will contribute to reduced taxes, which puts a cash-strapped, spend-happy government even further behind economically.

2.      With so little time to decide, Congress’s default answer may just be “wait” which sounds very much like “no.”

 

The discussion of these proposals will most likely become front-burner topics as the November 30th deadline looms closer. No, we will not find unanimous agreement, for or against, so your guess is as good as anyone’s. What will it be? Personally, I would like to see the credit extended at the $8,000 or $15,000 level and apply to all home purchases.  This will help the move-up or move-down buyer.  If this type of credit is put in place, it may make sense to cap the purchase price of the house to provide the biggest incentive to the people that need it most. 

 

If you believe that the tax credit should be extended in some shape or form, I encourage you to write your Congressional representatives.

This one level home is in excellent condition with new interior & exterior paint, new carpet and more.
Enjoy the light & bright interior, the split bedroom floor plan and the wooded, fenced back yard.
Don't miss the walk-in crawl space with a workshop.
 Click here to learn more about Team Jodi

Click here to view Team Jodi's Chapel Hill Real Estate and Durham Homes for Sale

Click here to Search homes for sale in Chapel Hill and Durham and the surrounding Triangle NC area

Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday Nov. 6-8

by Jodi Bakst

North Carolinians can save money on selected Energy Star-rated appliances during the state’s second annual Energy Star sales tax holiday that begins on Friday, Nov. 6 and ends Sunday, Nov. 8. Energy Star qualified products are those that meet the energy efficient guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. Qualified products carry the Energy Star label. 

Energy Star qualified products include:  clothes washers, freezers, refrigerators, central air conditioners, room air conditioners, air-source heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps, ceiling fans, dehumidifiers, and programmable thermostats. 

These products are exempt from sales taxes during the holiday weekend. There is no price limit or ceiling for products to qualify.  The guidelines are as follows:

Purchases Must Be “For Immediate Delivery” To Qualify

An item is eligible for the exemption if the customer pays for it during the holiday period and the retailer accepts the order and takes an action to fill the order for immediate delivery.

·         The actual delivery can occur after the holiday period.

·         Deliveries delayed because of a backlog, order or because the item is currently unavailable to the seller or on back order by the seller, are still eligible for the exemption during the holiday.

·         If the customer requests delayed shipment, the order is not considered “for immediate delivery” and is not exempt from sales taxes.

For more information on the Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday, visit http://www.dor.state.nc.us/taxes/sales/energystar_holiday.html

 

Cash for Appliances

by Jodi Bakst

Cash for Appliances
You probably know about Cash for Clunkers, the government’s stimulus program that spurred the auto industry while taking less fuel-efficient vehicles off the road. What you may not know about is a new stimulus program that affects your home and appliances.

 

What Is It?

It’s called Cash for Appliances or Cash for Refrigerators. What the program allows is for consumers, you and me, to receive rebates or economic incentives for purchasing energy star appliances—kind of like cash for old appliances. The government has funneled 300 million dollars into funding the program. Right now, North Carolina is shaping their plan to run Cash for Appliances, and will submit finalized plans to the U.S. Department of Energy on October 15. The state has $8.8 million available to fund the program, and may receive additional money from the Economic Recovery and Investment Act.

 

What’s the Point?

The Cash for Refrigerators program has several benefits. First, it gives the economy a boost. The hard-hit manufacturing and retail industries will get a jump-start from the sale of new appliances. At the same time, old energy-hogging appliances will go off the grid. Replacing the dinosaurs will be energy star appliances, which are far more energy-efficient and earth-friendly. Lastly, consumers will save cash. By purchasing a new heating system or washing machine, energy bills will take a nosedive. The extra cash may provide more impetus for spending—and greater economic uptick.

 

How Does It Work?

Rather than ditching your fridge and getting a check, the Cash for Appliances program will most likely be confined to actual cash-register purchases of state-selected appliances. Although cash for old appliances makes it sounds like a cash-reward for turning in old products, the cash reward comes in the form of a rebate. Included in the rebate program are energy star appliances like refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, furnaces, central air units, water heaters and other similar appliances. Since North Carolina wants to make cash for used appliances program as easy as possible for consumers, which means eliminating extra paperwork, and allowing it to be a simple one-step process. Details should be available sometime after the October 15 deadline for plan submittal and subsequent government approval.

 

When Will It Happen?

After mid-October, the government will begin reviewing state-led Cash for Appliances programs. If approved, they will receive the funding and be able to introduce the program to consumers. Some predict that the program will begin as early as December, in time for the Christmas shopping season. It is very likely that at the least, North Carolina will have the program underway by early 2010. At that time details will be available, meaning you can go to the store and start look for new appliances.

 

What Do You Think?

How will the program help you? What action will you take based on the program? Will this affect your decision to purchase new appliances?

Fed Announcement and the Impact on Interest Rates

by Jodi Bakst

The Federal Reserve (Fed) announced last week that it is ending the purchase of mortgage backed securities.  This was a huge statement.  This Fed program has held mortgage rates artificially low.  In other words, the suspension of this program could very likely put upward pressure on interest rates.  In fact, most lenders I talk to think rates in 2010 are going to go back to the 6% range.

With that being said, the time to buy is now.  Interest rates are fantastic.  I just had a client quoted 4.75% for a 30-year fixed loan and 2 other clients are being quoted 5%.  These are tremendous rates.

In addition to rates still being at historic lows, there is excellent inventory to choose from and there are many motivated sellers. 

Here is my latest video.  This is a testimonial from a client that just purchased a home with Team Jodi.  Please listen to what Rob Mazzoni has to say. . .


New Chapel Hill Home for Sale in North Haven

by Jodi Bakst
This is a lovely home in Chapel Hill's North Haven Neighborhood.  The home is over 2,600 sq. ft. with three bedrooms, an office and 2.5 bathrooms.  It is light and bright throughout.  The hardwood floors have just been refinished, there is new carpet and all new interior paint.  This house is located on a cul-de-sac lot and has a large, fenced back yard.  This house is an excellent buy at $395,000.
 Click here to learn more about Team Jodi

Click here to view Team Jodi's Chapel Hill Real Estate and Durham Homes for Sale

Click here to Search homes for sale in Chapel Hill and Durham and the surrounding Triangle NC area

Displaying blog entries 231-240 of 408

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