How can the ARRA benefit for you?

What is the ARRA’ 09?

On Tuesday, February 17, 2009 P.L. 111-5(H.R.I) the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) was signed into law by the President.  ARRA includes key provision that impact individuals and families.

The “Making Work Pay”Tax Credit will cut taxes for working families in 2009 and 2010 by providing a refundable credit of up to $400 for working individuals and $800 for those who are married filing jointly. The credit is phased out once your income exceeds a certain limit. It is being paid to employees through a reduction in their federal income tax withholding starting in April 2009. The IRS has a “Withholding Calculator” available at WWW.IRS.gov, check it out and make sure you are having the proper amount withheld to avoid owing the IRS.

The “Economic Recovery Payment”is provided for individuals who no longer work and are receiving SS,  SSI, RR benefits or Veterans Disability payments. This $250 payment will come directly through the same channels in which you’re now receiving benefits and will reduce the amount of “Making Work Pay” credit you may receive.

Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credits will increase, allowing for a larger credit for 3 or more children and a higher threshold of income eligible to receive the credits

The American Opportunity Education Credit is now expanding from and replacing the former “Hope” credit, to cover the first 4 years of qualifying post secondary education expense. A 40% credit up to $2,500 per year.

First-Time Home-Buyer credit has increased to $8000, from homes purchased from 01/01/2009- 11/30/2009. If you live in the home for at least three years, you wont have to pay it back!!

Energy Conservation Incentives for a variety of energy saving upgrades or additions to your home, including : Windows, doors, insulation,roofing, HVAC,water-heaters,bio-mass stoves and more. This credit of up to $1500, could also help you save on your electric bill.

Unemployment Benefits, a temporary suspension of federal income tax is now available on the first $2400 of unemployment benefits received in 2009. Voluntary with-holdings be requested on form W-4V.

New Car Sales Tax Deduction for sales taxes paid on the first $49,500 of the cost of a vehicle purchased after 02/16/2009. (For individuals with income limits under $125,000/$250,000 if jointly) And you don’t have to itemize to get it!

For more information on the ARRA ’09 provisions see the website: WWW.IRS.GOV

All information above is from the IRS website

Putting Mortgages into ‘Plain Language’

Bank of America has debuted www.BankOfAmerica.com/HomeLoans, a new Web site for borrowers that includes a calculator that determines not just what size loan people can qualify for, but how much they can spend without being stretched too thin.

“We wanted to change the conversation to ‘How much house can I comfortably afford?’ rather than ‘What’s the maximum I can buy?’ ” said Aditya Bhasin, the product, pricing and strategy executive for Bank of America Home Loans.

The site was designed to be easy to read, spelling out a variety of contingencies, including the maximum payment that an adjustable rate mortgage could potentially cost.

The new site also offers what BofA calls Flat Fee Mortgage Plus, which has no application fee and a single closing fee that includes processing costs and fees for third-party services like appraisals.

It doesn’t include other standard costs like property taxes, homeowners’ insurance and prepaid interest.

Craig Focardi, a senior research director at the Tower Group, a financial consulting firm, said the idea for the plan is nothing new – it’s been tried by others. But the prominence of the programs could persuade competitors to adopt the features.

Source: The New York Times, Bob Tedeschi (05/08/2009)

Five Maintenance Issues Owners Shouldn’t Ignore

Consumer Reports magazine advises home owners not to put off important maintenance projects, noting that waiting until the economy rebounds could end up making the repairs more costly while putting a family’s health at risk.

The magazine identifies five crucial maintenance issues:

  • Check the gutters: Clogged gutters, broken fasteners and separations where the gutters meet the fascia board will lead to roof leaks if they haven’t already.
  • Inspect the roof: Cracked, curled and mussing shingles mean a roof is nearing the end of its useful life. Cracks around chimneys, skylights, and roof valleys can also suggest the roof might be leaking.
  • Look for bugs: Termites and carpenter ants can bore through a home in a few short years. Probe the sill plate on top of the foundation with a screwdriver to check for rotten wood. Also look for carpenter ants and termites along windowsills and walls.
  • Avoid mold: Mold and mildew can cause musty odors, dank air, and make residents sick. Check under carpets and around windows for visible mold or mildew.
  • Don’t ignore cracks: Foundation cracks wider than 3/16 of an inch can be a problem. These require examination by a structural engineer.

Source: Consumer Reports

Architecture Coach: Prairie

In suburban Chicago in 1893, Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s most famous architect, designed the first Prairie-style house, and it’s still a common style throughout the Midwest. Prairie houses come in two styles–boxy and symmetrical or low-slung and asymmetrical. Roofs are low-pitched, with wide eaves. Brick and clapboard are the most common building materials. Other details: rows of casement windows; one-story porches with massive square supports; and stylized floral and circular geometric terra-cotta or masonry ornamentation around doors, windows, and cornices. (Realtor.Org)

Any Prairie’s in Atlanta? I need pictures

Cool website: www.Prairiemod.com  (love this site)

Photo © Kenneth C. Zirkel / iStockphoto.com

The Frederic C. Robie House in Chicago is widely considered Frank Lloyd Wright’s finest example of the Prairie style. It was built in 1909.

More Info

What You Can Do to Improve Your Credit

Credit scores, along with your overall income and debt, are big factors in determining whether you’ll qualify for a loan and what your loan terms will be. So, keep your credit score high by doing the following:

1. Check for and correct any errors in your credit report. Mistakes happen, and you could be paying for someone else’s poor financial management.

2. Pay down credit card bills. If possible, pay off the entire balance every month. Transferring credit card debt from one card to another could lower your score.

3. Don’t charge your credit cards to the maximum limit.

4. Wait 12 months after credit difficulties to apply for a mortgage. You’re penalized less for problems after a year.

5. Don’t order items for your new home on credit — such as appliances and furniture — until after the loan is approved. The amounts will add to your debt.

6. Don’t open new credit card accounts before applying for a mortgage. Too much available credit can lower your score.

7. Shop for mortgage rates all at once. Too many credit applications can lower your score, but multiple inquiries from the same type of lender are counted as one inquiry if submitted over a short period of time.

8. Avoid finance companies. Even if you pay the loan on time, the interest is high and it will probably be considered a sign of poor credit management.

This information is copyrighted by the Fannie Mae Foundation and is used with permission of the Fannie Mae Foundation. To obtain a complete copy of the publication, Knowing and Understanding Your Credit, visit www.homebuyingguide.org.