I am pleased to announce and invite you to Lavender Law Blog’s Resource section. It contains tools and pages that can help buyers and sellers of real estate. If you come across any tool, software or site that can assist others, let us know!
I admit it. I’m a sucker for watching those shows where people buy properties in different places around the world. It can be in any country. Alaska, Hawaii or the Caribbean. It doesn’t matter. I’m not picky. I have to watch it. It’s not only limited to television nor does it have to be very exotic or far away. It can be another town or another block. If I am in an area that I am not familiar with, I often will take a side trip or purposely get lost, just to see houses. One of my closest friends lives in a very affluent area located on the North Shore of Long Island. The road to go to his house is very winding and passes a number of huge beautiful Victorian homes and large estates. I find myself (much to my wife Laura’s angst) drifting to one side of the road or the other to get a better look. She does’t let me drive there anymore. If there is a private road leading to some mysterious grand estate, I have to become “lost” trying to find a through street. Especially if there is a sign that says “PRIVATE”. How dare they keep me from seeing what is in there. I know, I have a problem.
It is not that I’m unhappy what I have or where I live. I am quite happy where I live and with the house I live in. Realistically, I have absolutely no use for a house with 8 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms. Nor does anyone in my family want to clean them. Whether or not I want it, my wife is a grounding force. On more than one occasion I have heard to the effect, “no Phil we do not need a house with a boat slip”. I don’t own a boat. In the back of my head I am thinking “but I might get a boat”. As I sit here writing, I am trying to figure out why I do this. I don’t get the sense I am jealous or want what other people have. I am quite happy for friends and family who may have a larger house or a more expensive car.
I think it’s what houses/homes/real estate represents. When I was younger, (not that long ago) I guess owning property represented financial security, wealth, continuity and permanency. Growing up, our family moved a lot. As a child, I daydreamed about owning office buildings and maybe even my very own island some day. . . My wife still kids me about the island. As I got older, the need and desire developed a sense of urgency as I needed a home of my own to raise a family. I got the house but that need for continuity continued as I often thought about buying a building to have an office to run a law practice. While traveling, my family often heard the phrase “that building would be a great place for a law office”. Over the years, law school loans, mortgages and college tuition tempered my motivation to get that building. Now that I am planning for my golden years (very far off in the future), my thoughts have once again turned to real estate as a way in which to provide investments as a means to generate income in which to retire. There is a good chance that social security may not be a viable option when the need for it comes. I don’t see me receiving the same kinds of returns from the stock market or lotto as I could get from real estate.
I guess I practice real estate law because of what real estate means to me. That paired with the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction I feel when I put together (and close, most of the time) a complicated transaction or the purchase of a person’s first home. There is a feeling of pride that I have provided my clients (with what I hope is) a valuable service in achieving their goals and/or dreams. Very similar to the ones I’ve had throughout my life.
As you may recall, there was a movement to extend the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 authorizes a tax credit of up to $8000.00 for qualified first-time home buyers purchasing a principal residence. The expiration of this first time home buyers tax credit is on November 30, 2009. Many purchasers to be are pushing to close before this date to avail themselves to the credit.
Law makers are working to extend the first time home buyers tax credit to stop and reverse sinking home prices in an effort to prop up the sagging economy.
The plan would extend the homebuyers credit past the November 30th expiration date to home purchases under contract by April 30, 2009. Borrowers will be allowed another 60 days to close the sale.
The credit would be available to individuals earning up to $125,000, or $250,000 for couples, up from $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples under the current law.
There is a proposed expansion of the tax credit also. Other individuals, who are not first time home buyer could get up to $6,500, starting December 1st, if they’ve lived in their current home for at least five years. There are reports that the proposed legislation would require the purchase of a home to be a primary residence but no requirement to sell an existing home. This is an acknowledgment by lawmakers of one of the realities of the economy. Proposed home buyers may not be so quick to sell their current property in preparation of purchasing their new home. Not requiring the sale of an existing primary home while being permitted to utilize the tax credit and purchase a replacement primary home would potentially subsidize paying the carrying costs of the yet to be sold house while it is on the market.
One of my primary concerns about not requiring the sale of an existing primary home while utilizing a tax credit is unwise financial decisions that may lead to additional defaults and foreclosures. An individual in attempting to utilize a tax credit while owning an existing home may attempt to retain the original home as a rental investment property hoping that the net operating income (net amount of income generated by rent after deducting the homes expenses) is sufficient to pay the existing mortgage. If the bill is passed not requiring the sale of the original primary home (even if the deadline is an extended period of time) it could lead to a great number of wannabe investors going into default on existing loans when the rental of these home are delayed or do not materialize. The alternative argument to permit the retention and rental of an existing primary residence while purchasing another primary residence is that only borrowers with incomes sufficient to pay two mortgages simultaneously will be able to obtain a mortgage while still living or renting their existing primary residence because a lender may very well determine that the borrower-to-be has too much debt in relation to their income to obtain a mortgage in order to finance the purchase of another home without satisfying the prior mortgage.
There is significant support for the bill by both democrats and republicans and is endorsed by the Obama Administration.
See the link to an article on Bloomberg.com
There are still questions on where the additional funds will come from and debate on whether to expand the credit to existing homeowners in an effort to boost home sales.
Due to a Republican demand that a vote be allowed on an amendment to end the Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program at the end of this year, the proposal to extend the tax credit wont be voted on by the Senate until next week.
The U.S. Senate won’t vote until next week at the earliest on proposals to extend both an $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers and unemployment benefits for the nation’s jobless. The administration endorses an extension.
Senate action was delayed by a Republican demand that a vote be allowed on an amendment to end the Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program at the end of this year. See bloomberg.com article:
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I came across this interesting article at the NY Times website. A worried homeowner would pay this company between 1-2 percent of the house’s current value (apparently payable over time) and you are assured of getting back the value at the start of the Contract. There are catches. The house has to be your primary residence and you are required to own the house for 2 years after the start of the contract. It seems like the fee is determined on where you live. The greater the declining market value (as determined at the time of the contract) the larger the fee. I do not know how stable the company is or what assurances you can get that it will be there when you sell your house. It is not insurance and therefore not regulated by state insurance regulations. In light of the number of short sales I deal with, this may be a very helpful product. It is certainly something worth exploring. . .
Here is the link to the article http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/18/realestate/18mort.html
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