Industry Lobbies to Extend Buyer Tax Credit

Key organizations in the housing industry are urging Congress to increase the $8,000 home buyer credit to $15,000 and make it available to all home buyers instead of just those buying a first home.

“What is being billed as a recovery is not showing up in the cash register yet,” says Richard A. Smith, CEO of Realogy Corp. and a member of the Business Roundtable, which is orchestrating the lobbying effort.

The Roundtable’s campaign is also pushing Congress to make permanent expanded limits for loans eligible for government purchase or backing. The limit is now $729,750 in high-cost housing markets.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Nick Timiraos

Basements Increase Urban Living Spaces

Home owners in crowded cities are digging deep to find space for a subterranean extra bedroom or family room.

Plans have to be carefully drawn by an engineer. “The most dangerous point is when you have the whole basement dug out, and it is supported on dirt,” says builder David Perez. If it rains, the house can collapse, taking a neighbor’s home with it.

The process is also expensive and time consuming – one Washington, D.C. excavation contractor estimates that a 700-square-foot basement excavated three feet down and carefully supported would cost about $44,000 before any finish work is done. But some home owners say it is worthwhile, because there simply isn’t any other way to increase the size of their homes.

Source: The Washington Post, Elizabeth Festa 

Atlanta is a money pit…

I was very disappointed when I saw the below article on creative loafing.  My water/sewer bill is already ridiculous! Now what??  Sheesh- people complain about how expensive it is to live in NY- to me, Atlanta is worse… aleast New Yorkers make comparable wages …..Can you tell right now that I’m not really feeling ATL?  Well, I’m not feeling ANY place that continues to hit me in my pocket!

Massive water/sewer rate hike may be on the way

April 25th, 2008 by Scott Henry in News

Atlanta residents already bracing for a potential tax hike may also be facing a sharp jump in their water and sewer bills.

Although the Department of Watershed Management won’t deliver its proposed budget to the City Council until May 1, a highly placed source in City Hall says the department is planning to ask for a dramatic 25-percent rate increase.

The department had recently sought to enact a “drought surcharge” to offset residents’ lower water usage – and thus lower water revenue – but was rebuffed by the Council.

“It seems unfair to ask people to conserve water and then penalize them for doing it,” says Councilwoman Clair Muller.

The presumption is that Watershed would simply roll the increase into its upcoming budget proposal, which was already anticipated to include higher rates to pay for the next round of sewer fixes. But Muller says the rumored 25-percent hike is much steeper than was expected – and is likely to inflame more controversy in a City Hall already grappling with a budget crisis.

If such a large increase in water rates is proposed, Muller says she will move to postpone future clean-water projects so the city can keep rates lower but still meet a federal consent order to repair its aging sewers.