Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Most Americans Say Now Is Time to Buy a House

The Efinity Report rarely posts news articles, however; we thought we would the following report from Reuters is a good indication of the mired direction of the housing market.

"Nearly two-thirds of Americans think the time is right to buy a house, with a majority believing prices will be the same or higher over the next year, according to a Fannie Mae survey released Tuesday.

The 64 percent that said it is a good time to buy is just shy of the 66 percent that said the same thing in 2003 as the U.S. housing market was racing higher, said the survey.

However, most of the 3,451 polled said that it would be tougher for them to get a loan than it was for their parents.

The survey comes amid signs that the U.S. housing market is recovering after suffering the worst downturn since the 1930s.

But, while home prices in some regions are rising, soaring delinquency rates across the nation mean foreclosures will keep persistent pressure on the market, according to analysts.

Fannie Mae, the largest U.S. mortgage finance company, said that the public still "strongly believes" in upholding their financial commitments, though that weakens once people know someone who is defaulting.

Those who know someone in default are more than twice as likely to have seriously considered stopping payments on their own mortgage, Fannie Mae said.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Housing Tax Credit in it's Final Legs

Tax breaks, get them while they are hot!! There is a potential to save thousands of dollars but time is running out. If you're thinking of taking advantage of the government's home buyer tax credits you must have a contract to purchase a home by the end of this month. The opportunity is sizable. First time home buyers can get a credit of up to $8,000.

The exclusively government funded program is designed to ensure we have a sustainable economic recovery as homeowners don't see further destruction of their homes. Many of which are the backbone of their wealth.

The government also offered a tax credit to long-time residents who buy a new principal residence — no credits for vacation homes. They're eligible for a credit of up to $6,500. If you're convinced a new home may be in your future, consider some of the basic rules outlined in the tax credit.

Who qualifies

First-time home buyers: To qualify as a first-time home buyer, you must not have owned a home in the last three years. The tax credit is 10 percent of the purchase price of a home up to a maximum of $8,000. This applies to a single taxpayer or a married couple filing a joint return. Married couples filing separate returns qualify for half that amount. The $8,000 credit applies to sales in 2009 and through the end of April. Homes bought in 2008 also get a tax credit, but the rules are different.

Of course, your particular situation may not be so clear cut. The IRS outlines many different scenarios and how they effect the home buyer rules here.

Long-time residents: To qualify as a long-time resident, you must have owned and used the same home as your principal residence for at least five consecutive years of the eight-year period ending on the date you bought your new home. The maximum credit is $6,500 for a single taxpayer or a married couple filing a joint return, or $3,250 for a married couple filing separate returns.

The deadline
You must enter into a binding contract to buy a home before May 1, 2010, and close before July 1, 2010. If you're building a home, the purchase date is considered to be the date you first occupy the home.

How to get the credit
The credit is claimed on IRS Form 5405, First-Time Home buyer Credit, which was revised in December. It must be filed with your 2008, 2009 or 2010 federal income tax return, depending on which year you're claiming the credit. If you have already filed a 2008 or a 2009 tax return without claiming the credit, but bought a home that qualifies, you can amend your return to claim the credit using Form 1040X with the December 2009 Form 5405 attached.

Certain additional supporting documents will be required to be filed with your tax return, including a copy of the settlement statement used to buy the home or a similar document.

Those seeking as credit for long-time residents will need to prove they have lived in their home for five consecutive years by providing mortgage interest statements, property tax records or home owner's insurance records for five consecutive years.

Income limits for full credit
Purchases after Nov. 6, 2009
Single taxpayers — up to $125,000
Married couples filing jointly — up to $225,000

Purchases before Nov. 7, 2009
Single taxpayers — up to $75,000
Married couple filing jointly — up to $150,000

The IRS uses your modified adjusted gross income, which for most people is the adjusted gross income on your tax form with student loan, tuition and fee deductions added back in.

Many additional questions are answered by the IRS on its Web site.