First-time homebuyers in 2008 can take an income-tax credit on their purchase, thanks to passage in Congress earlier this year of the first-time home buyer tax credit.
The definition of first-time homebuyer is generous. To get the credit, the homebuyer cannot have owned a home in the previous three years. The home must be a principal residence and purchased between April 9, 2008 and July 1, 2009.
The credit is equal to 10 percent of the purchase price, up to $7,500. Single taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income up to $75,000 and couples with MAGI up to $150,000 will qualify for full credit. Singles with MAGI up to $95,000 and couples with MAGI up to $170,000 will get a reduced amount. Those with higher incomes don’t qualify.
If the amount of tax a homebuyer owes is less than the amount of the credit, they get to keep the difference in the form of an IRS refund.
The homebuyer must begin to repay the credit in two years in increments of about $500 a year over a 15-year period for those who received the full credit
Homebuyers who sell their home before the credit is repaid must pay off the loan with any profits. If they sell the home at a loss, the loan is forgiven.
[Editor’s Note: The credit is set to expire in mid-2009, although industry groups, including the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, are encouraging Congress to extend it. NAR is also encouraging Congress to make the credit available to all buyers and to eliminate the repayment requirement. More detail on how the credit works is available from NAR on REALTOR.org.]
Source: Chicago Tribune, Mary Umberger
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The Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa are:
- Umoja (oo-MOH-jah): Unity
Success starts with Unity. Unity of family, community, nation and race.
- Kujichagulia (koo-jee-chah-goo-LEE-ah): Self-Determination
To be responsible for ourselves. To create your own destiny.
- Ujima (oo-JEE-mah): Collective work and responsibility
To build and maintain your community together. To work together to help one another within your community.
- Ujamaa (oo-jah-MAH): Collective economics
To build, maintain, and support our own stores, establishments, and businesses.
- Nia (NEE-ah): Purpose
To restore African American people to their traditional greatness. To be responsible to Those Who Came Before (our ancestors) and to Those Who Will Follow (our descendants).
- Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah): Creativity
Using creativity and imagination to make your communities better than what you inherited.
- Imani (ee-MAH-nee): Faith
Believing in our people, our families, our educators, our leaders, and the righteousness of the African American struggle.
Merry Christmas West End
Merry Christmas Westview
Real estate fraud continues to grow, despite aggressive responses from federal regulators.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations has reported that incidents of mortgage fraud have tripled over the last two years to 21,994, with the value of the crimes quadrupling to $1.01 billion.
The crimes range from individuals lying on their applications to complex rings of identity thefts, straw buyers and appraisal fraud.
Harvard Law School professor Howell E. Jackson, who authored a study of mortgage brokers and yield spread premiums, blames the anonymity of the mortgage business. Thirty years ago, applicants went down to their local bank and dealt with a loan officer who they probably knew. Today, the business has grown and changed and most buyers never talk to a lender. Instead, they rely on a broker to get them the best deal.
Jackson estimated that brokers will earn an estimated $33 billion in commissions this year.
“People should ask their broker how much they’re making, including both yield spread premiums and direct fees, and if it’s over $2,000 they should question why,” says Jackson. “No one says the broker has to make a certain amount. It’s negotiable.”
Source: Los Angeles Times, David Streitfeld