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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Expanded First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit Becomes Law

1. For first-time home buyers:..... as high as $8,000. The legislation defines "first-time home buyers" as anyone who has not owned a principal residence in the three years prior to making the purchase.
Old law:  buyers needed to close by Nov. 30.
New law:  contract before May 1, 2010... the new law raises the annual incomelimits from $75,000 to $125,000 for singles and from $150,000 to $225,000 for married couples.
2. For current home owners: In addition, the new law makes most current homeowners eligible for a tax credit of up to $6,500 when they purchase their next primary residence. Under the terms of the legislation, current homeowners must have lived in their home for five consecutive years over the previous eight to be eligible. Qualified home buyers can obtain the credit on homes purchased between Nov. 7 and the end of April 2010. That means they need a signed sales contract on a home before May 1, 2010, but they have until the end of June to close the sale.
3. Additional specs: And as long as they use the property as their primary residence for three or more years after the purchase, buyers don't have to pay it back. Furthermore, buyers can claim the credit on their 2009 taxes, even if the purchase was made in 2010 by filing an amended return...we can help with brokerage and amending

4. Fighting fraud: he new law includes measures designed to limit its abuse. Anyone claiming the credit must now provide documentation to prove that the sale has closed.
5. Price tag: First-time home buyer tax credits have cost the government around $10 billion in lost revenue through Aug. 22. The expanded credit program is projected to cost an additional $10.8 billion or so.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Cheap Home Renovations That Pay Off

Remodeling magazine's "2008-2009 Cost vs. Value Report" confirms that the home renovation projects that will add the most value to your home (meaning that you are most likely to recoup the highest percentage of the project cost when you go to sell your home) are pricey big-ticket items such as replacing siding with fiber-cement ($13,177 with 87% cost recouped) or vinyl ($12,528 with 80% cost recouped) and adding a wood deck ($10,601 with 82% cost recouped).

But if those home renovations are beyond your price point and you're looking at a budget of just $1,000 what should you invest in to get the most bang for your buck?........

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Homes: About to get much cheaper // Why Obama's Housing Rescue Hasn't Prevented Record Foreclosures

Homes: About to get much cheaper

  • On 11:07 am EDT, Tuesday October 20, 2009

If you thought home prices were bottoming out, you may be wrong. They're expected to head a lot lower.
Home values are predicted to drop in 342 out of 381 markets during the next year, according to a new forecast of real estate prices.

 U.S. News & World Report 

After taking withering criticism for the Department-of-Motor-Vehicles pace of its initial efforts to keep struggling borrowers out of foreclosure, the Obama administration proudly announced last week that it had hit its goal of 500,000 trial loan modifications almost a month ahead of schedule. But with the foreclosure rate hitting a new record in the third quarter, the government's ability to put a meaningful dent in the tally of housing-crisis victims faces renewed skepticism.
Foreclosure filings were reported on 937,840 homes in the three-month period, a 23 percent jump from a year earlier, according to a report real estate firm RealtyTrac released Thursday. Home foreclosures in September, meanwhile, decreased 4 percent from August but remained 29 percent higher than a year earlier.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Answering the 25 Biggest Real Estate Questions -Business Week

What you need to know

........everyone has questions about the real estate market. When will housing come back? How can I stay in my home? What is the government doing? Will I ever be able to sell my house? Despite some positive signs, many people remain scared and uncertain about what is really going on. To help answer some of the biggest questions, BusinessWeek reached out to readers, experts and our own editors........

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Reluctant Landlords

"With housing prices still in the dumps, many Americans are finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of landlord.........Experts generally advise against becoming a landlord in hopes of recouping lost home value......................The calculation isn't the same for all homeowners. Those who have paid off their home or have a small mortgage balance may be able to wait out the market. And there are pockets of the country—Houston is one—where home prices haven't fallen as hard. Some homeowners may want rental income to supplement retirement savings...............a landlord policy covers the loss of rental income if a fire makes the house uninhabitable. It costs about 25% more than a standard homeowners policy, according to the Insurance Information Institute.................Renting for an extended period can eliminate or diminish the value of capital-gains tax exclusions. Federal tax law requires you to live in the house at least two years of the previous five in order to qualify for the full capital-gains tax exclusion upon sale of $250,000 for a single person or $500,000 for a couple, with some exceptions." ( Realty note: I recommend reading the "Comments" tab on any of these WSJ articles of interest - the round table like discussions will help you digest the jest of the column )

Saturday, October 03, 2009

10 Hard-Hit Housing Markets That Are Ready to Rebound

Luke Mullins, Oct 1st, 2009

As the historic housing crash continues to hammer real estate prices from coast to coast, many homeowners probably can't remember the last time their property's value actually increased. But even with home prices still falling at the national level, a number of hard-hit housing markets are gearing up for a rebound. ...including 2 markets in Michigan.

Friday, October 02, 2009

SHORT SALE tips for your Buyer Agent

Help your buyers agent help the sellers agent.

After your agent has submitted your short sale package for the seller's lien holder, here's what the sellers agent needs to do next?
call the bank. You have to follow up regularly.

Here are a few questions that you help you get started:

  1. Have you received the short sale package? (Hopefully, the answer is yes. If the answer is no, sellers agent should refax the package.)
  2. Are you missing any items that you need to process the short sale? (You'll want to send those a.s.a.p.)
  3. Has a Notice of Default been filed? Is there currently a foreclosure dated scheduled? (Important questions, because if the foreclosure is set for tomorrow, your job is going to be tough.)
  4. Can you tell me about the process and time frames at your bank? (Good learning opportunity. Listen and take notes.)
  5. How soon will a negotiator be assigned? (Write down the answer.)
  6. When will be the BPO (Broker Price Opinion) be ordered? (Write down the answer.)
  7. When would you recommend that I call back to check on the status of the short sale? (Call back the date that is recommended or sooner, if necessary.)

Agent followup comments:

Having done many short sales, the most important step is the BPO. First you have to push to have the BPO ordered. Often times the bank will tell you that it is not necessary to do an interior BPO because they already did an exterior BPO. You must insist on an interior BPO. Secondly, it is absolutely important to be present when the appraiser/realtor performs the BPO. You must come with comps that support the price you are looking for. Also bring the sales contract and a repair list. You must also explain the seller's situation and the hardship he is going through. Talk to the appraiser while going through the house. Engage in conversation so you can figure out what is important to the BPO agent. I have used these techniques and on many occasions have turned the appraiser to my side. Even though they are not supposed to tell me, often times I have found out what the BPO came in at. If you can get the appraiser/realtor who is performing the to be on your side, the rest is down hill.

Paul Warkow


The Tribunal's Small Claims Division utilizes an informal hearing process to resolve the majority of all appeals filed with the Tribunal. Parties typically represent themselves in such appeals. See in detail all the Steps to a Small Claims Appeal on our blog.

Monday, September 28, 2009

First-Time Homebuyer Credit


First-time homebuyers may be able to take advantage of a tax credit for homes purchased in 2008 or 2009. The credit:

  • Applies to purchases that close after April 8, 2008, and before Dec. 1, 2009.
  • Applies only to homes used as a taxpayer's principal residence.
  • Reduces a taxpayer's tax bill or increases his or her refund, dollar for dollar.
  • Is fully refundable, meaning the credit will be paid out to eligible taxpayers, even if they owe no tax or the credit is more than the tax owed.
CALL US TO ASSIST WITH ANY ASPECT OF PURCHASE & APPLYING FOR THE CREDIT - THERE IS NO CHARGE for us to complete the IRS filing after we assist you in your first time home purchase.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

STATISTICS: Now offered in out LINKS area

Useful week to week and year to year stats on listings/sales/& % increases and decreases.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Yes, the Housing Market Has Rarely Looked Better

SMARTMONEY.COM..In short, the data suggest that real-estate prices hit a bottom some time during the second quarter, and have now begun to rise............the National Association of Realtors reported that sales volume of existing homes was up 7.2% in July from June..........For every hardship story, and no doubt there are many, others are realizing their dreams of home ownership and getting what may well turn out to be the deals of their lives.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Forbes is a useful resource.

We are getting differing opinions on "is it time to get back in the market?"
Some say:

  • The die hard bears are a little bullish since money sitting in one of those empty cheap condo's will bring a better return w/ a renter than cash sitting in the bank.
  • While others say: We're in the eye of the storm, the back side is moving in and its gonna be worse
  • Still others: Investment level homes and rentals - all good - minimal down.
  • And the logical: In a softening market, move up if you ever have thought about it. An X% hit on your $1xx home is less money than the savings on a $2xx home that you can get on the cheap right now. As always - in a hot market, look to downgrade and take your profit on the big one though you'll overpay to a lesser amount on the smaller one. In a soft market, move up and glean the larger savings. ( We like this advice best ).

This post highlights the perspective that you get better real estate advice from resources that do their homework and hold their tongue than the at the beautician or from the local paper or news show. So we've spotlight Forbes.

Others we like: Wall Street Journal.
Some we don't: Money.

Real Estate: The Eye Of The Storm Has Passed | Story
August 12, 2009
The bad news is slowing down, but we're not out of the woods yet for housing. Expect a national bottom in a year, then slow appreciation.
July 29, 2009
From coast to coast, unsold condos sit empty. In these 10 spots, deals are likely aplenty.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Foreclosures / Short Sales

How To Do a Short Sale

Why Would a Lender Accept a Short Sale?


Short Sale and Foreclosure Effects on Credit

The Impact of Short Sales and Foreclosures on Credit Reports

Buying Foreclosures - How Foreclosures Work

What Is a Foreclosure and How to Profit From Foreclosures

The Drawbacks to Buying Foreclosures

The Condition of Foreclosed Homes


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another Win at the Michigan Tax Tribunal

Just saved another client about $1700/yr in taxes while getting 2 back years of reduction for another and saving about $900.

On another protest, about $4400/yr for a 2 year judgement, was won at 3rd and final appeal/hearing.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

FHA borrowers mortgage insurance premiums overview

excerpts from

It says the following:

“In the past, some FHA borrowers have paid annual mortgage insurance premiums throughout the life of their mortgages. Effective for all loans closed on or after January 1, 2001, FHA’s annual mortgage insurance premiums will be automatically canceled under the following conditions:

*For mortgages with terms more than 15 years, the annual mortgage insurance premiums will be canceled when the loan to value ratio reaches 78 percent, provided the mortgagor has paid the annual mortgage insurance premiums for at least five years.

*For mortgages with terms 15 years and less and with loan to value ratios 90 percent and greater, the annual mortgage insurance premiums will be canceled when the loan to value ratio reaches 78 percent, irrespective of the length of time the mortgagor has paid the annual mortgage premiums.

*Mortgages with terms 15 years and less and with loan to value ratios of 89.99 percent and less will not be charged annual mortgage insurance premiums.”

The FHA also says:

“FHA will determine when a borrower has reached the 78% loan to value ratio based on the lower of the sales price or appraised value at origination. New appraised values will not be considered. For example, if the lower of the sales price or the appraised value at origination was $100,000, when the loan amount reaches $78,000, FHA will no longer collect annual mortgage insurance premiums on the loan. Cancellation of the annual mortgage insurance premiums will normally be based on the scheduled amortization of the loan. However, in cases where the loan payments have been accelerated or modified, cancellation can be based on the actual amortization of the loan as provided to HUD by the servicing mortgagee.”

list them and forget them

Dana Schultz - a past client of ours (one who sold 2 homes using Homeowners Concept and saving thousands in each case) - called the other day. Her daughter had been trying to sell her home in Illinois in an area where Homeowners Concept does not have an office, using an MLS only broker (also known as Limited Service) and having paid $500 upfront just to go in MLS. The property had been on the market for 9 months her daughter had moved to California and she was doing the showings because the service they used did not have the option to show. After a few trips over the IL border to show the home, her daughter decided to cut the price of the home drastically so it can sell ($30K to be exact).

This price cut had spurred some activity but she was wondering whether other Realtors were
avoiding the home or talking buyers out of it because it was limited service. This issue has been raised many times by sellers, ever since the MLS only companies came into the market a few years ago. Yet, you will not find an agent admitting such but as our study of the local market showed (see the blog post dated 2/20/09 titled: MLS only companies - an eye opener) many sellers who pay all this money upfront have little success. The companies (known in the industry as "list them and forget them") collect their money upfront (around $500) and have no incentive to sell the home. There is definitely more work for an agent that decides to show and write on a limited service home because the seller is still For Sale By Owner and there is no other agent to assist the seller with the contracts, counters, inspection, closing, etc. As a result this work falls on the shoulders of the selling agent. So putting yourself in an agent's shoes having to choose from a vast selection of homes and looking at the dismal success rates Dana's observation is right on the money.



From article #2:

There is more to negotiating than just the price.

There is no substitute for experience when it comes to negotiations. As I said before, there is more to negotiations that just price, there are repairs, time-frames and many other small details that become part of the negotiation. A Realtor has the ability to step back emotionally and really look at the deal in an unbiased way. They should be able to analyze proposed price & use their data to support the selling price. Through experience, they recognize which repairs make sense to accept, which ones can be settled with money & which repairs should be thrown out with supporting arguments as to why. Further, a buyer looking at the FSBO is holding onto his/her money now expecting to get the better end of a deal who gets the "savings" ?

Seller - For Sale By Owner
It's hard to compete with experience when you are negotiating a contract. It's like playing cards. You get better the more you play. You learn when to hold fast, when to bluff and when to fold. A buyer face to face with a seller will have more of an incentive to "win", since the meeting IS face to face. This doesn't mean that you can't do it. Here is where you have to weigh your options carefully. If you sell on your own and get the raw end of the deal on repairs or even lose a few thousand dollars on price because you didn't have the data to support your argument, how much did you save by not using a Realtor?

How many accidental legal representations did you make in face to face showings, emails, contracts, and advertisements ? How often did you violate state and federal disclosure laws, fair housing HUD laws ? How much future liability will you have ?

Monday, June 22, 2009

How to Use the Produce the Note Strategy to Save Your Home from Foreclosure

What is "produce the note"? Why is everyone talking about it? Does it apply to me? How can it help to save my home from foreclosure? All these questions will be addressed in this article.

What It Is: Produce the note is a defensive strategy that you can use to fight foreclosure and force the bank to prove that you owe it any money at all. In courts of law, the plaintiff has a "burden of proof", meaning that it has to put forth evidence that shows everything it says is actually true. However, when the plaintiff makes claims that the defendant does not challenge, then the court usually accepts the Plaintiff's claims on face value on the basis that you had a chance to contradict them and didn't.

When you say "produce the note" what you are doing is challenging the bank's assertion that you owe it money, that it has a mortgage on your house, and that it has the right to foreclose on you at all. One attorney has estimated that nearly 50% of mortgages have been lost or destroyed in the carnage of all the selling, pooling, servicing, tranching, and defrauding that went on in the years from 2001-2008 in the American Secondary Mortgage Market. 50-50 is pretty good odds of YOUR note coming up missing.

When Its Used:

Typically, the best time to use "Produce the Note" is during discovery. That is, after you have sued the bank (say, for Quiet Title), or the bank has sued you (i.e., foreclosure). Discovery is the process by which each side of a pending lawsuit gets to ask the other side for all of the pertinent information with which it intends to prove its claims. For instance, if a bank sues you for foreclosure, then you have a right to "discover" all of the damaging evidence against you. The most basic piece of evidence here would be a "Note", which is the financial term for "mortgage" or other debt. Without a mortgage, then there is no document proving that you and the bank have an agreement, and therefore, the bank cannot prove its foreclosure claim against you.

Some proponents of "Produce the Note" suggest that ANYTIME is a good time for "Produce the Note" - even if there is no lawsuit going on. In some cases it may work, but the problem here is that there is no right to discovery outside of litigation. therefore, if you are not in foreclosure and you want to get the bank to have to produce the note, then find an attorney to evaluate your case for a quiet title case against whichever entity has a mortgage recorded against your home. Chances are, if the mortgage was sold more than once, SOMEONE forgot to make all the proper recordations, and you may just end up with your home free from any outstanding liens.

A third alternative, used in bankruptcy proceedings, is to file chapter 13 bankruptcy and list the mortage - NOT AS SECURED DEBT - but as UNSECURED DEBT. Similar to the discovery tactics above, this puts the bank of having to PROVE its mortgage in order to get the bankruptcy court to treat the debt as secured rather than unsecured debt.

How To Do It Right:

As hinted at above, if you want to get the most out of Produce the Note, you will wait until your guns are fully loaded: i.e., you are in litigation, with a right to discovery. Send a "Request for Production of Documents" to the lender or servicer and demand examination of the original mortgage note at a place of your choosing. If the bank hasn't complied within 30 days, file a Motion to Compel Discovery. In your motion, refer the court to your proper Request for Production of Documents and to the bank's responses. Point out the bank's failure to comply with your request for it to produce the mortgage which it claims gives it a right to record a claim against your title, and ask the judge to compel discovery. If the bank has lost the note, then it will further fail to comply. At that point, file a motion to dismiss the bank's foreclosure action or at the very least to bar any evidence of a mortgage note as penalty for failure to comply with the court's order. It will be impossible for the bank to win. In the alternative, in a quiet title action, if the bank cannot comply, then you will be primed to win.

Word to the Wise: DO NOT rely solely on "Produce the Note." There are MANY possible claims and defenses that may come up in each case, and if you put all your eggs in one basket, you may get a rude awakening if your bank actually HAS your note. See an attorney, know your rights, and have a back-up plan.

The above article is not intended as legal advice, and is for informational use and entertainment only. If you are in need of legal advice or counsel, then consult a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction who is competent in the area you need.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Snag a great deal on a short sale

Short sales - where a lender agrees to take less than it's owed on a mortgage - are rising sharply. Here's how you can profit.

Homes: Most affordable in 2 decades

Affordable By Les Christie, staff writer

10 Most Affordable

Big metro areas where residents are most able to afford to buy a home.


Metro area

Affordability Index

Median home price


Indianapolis, IN




Youngstown, OH




Akron, OH




Grand Rapids, MI




Syracuse, NY




Warren, MI




Cleveland, OH




Buffalo, NY




Toledo, OH




Dayton, OH



10 Least Affordable

Big metro areas where residents are least able to afford to buy a home.


Metro area

Affordability index

Median home price


New York, NY




San Francisco, CA




Los Angeles, CA




Nassau-Suffolk, NY




Honolulu, HI




Santa Ana, CA




Newark, NJ




Miami, FL




McAllen, TX




El Paso, TX



Saturday, March 21, 2009

WSJ , Cracking a Valuable Homebuyer Credit & Energy Tax Credits

  • up $500 this year to $8000
  • max out at $70k purch price
  • need not be "house"
  • need not be "your first home"
  • need not be paid back like last years credit
  • limited window for purchases

How Your Home May Qualify for Bailout Cash aka:Energy-Efficient Upgrades Yield Valuable Tax Credits

  • The credits fall into two primary camps. One is energy efficiency, which covers certain improvements to an existing home's structural elements, such as windows and insulation, as well as for the purchase of qualifying high-efficiency heating, cooling and water-heating equipment.
  • The second is for renewable energy, which includes solar, wind, geothermal (heat generated from the earth) and fuel-cell technologies (which convert the chemical energy of a fuel, such as hydrogen, into electricity). In a nutshell, the energy-efficiency tax credit increases to 30% of qualifying costs from 10%, and the cap also rises to $1,500 from $500.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Outside buyers drawn to Detroit's foreclosed homes

Jeff Karoub and Corey Williams / Associated Press

DETROIT -- Welcome to Landlord Nation, where foreclosure notices are plentiful and for-sale signs offer at least 1,800 homes for under $10,000 that once were worth at least 10 times more.

In extreme cases, homes are on sale for $1 or less, which has enticed investors to Detroit from as far away as the United Kingdom and Australia.

"In the past few months, I've picked up 10 new clients from out of state that are buying in bulk," said Mike Shannon, a suburban Detroit real estate agent. His office specializes in foreclosures in a city that's among the national leaders.

"They're coming to us, saying 'Look, I want to buy 50, 100, 1,000.' They want to own every decent and cheap house they can find."

............... read on................

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Principal Residence for Property Taxes: pick old or new !

Principal Residence Information:
The new Public Act 96 of 2008 is designed to allow people to maintain the principal residence status on their first home when they are unable to sell that home before they move into a new residence. The property owner must file a form with the local assessor by May 1. Click here to view the form.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Produce The Note “How-To” DELAY FORECLOSURE

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Feb 2009 Stimulus Package & First-Time Homebuyers

Tax Credit to Aid First-Time Homebuyers; Must Be Repaid Over 15 Years,,id=186831,00.html

Congress Strikes $789 Billion Stimulus Deal


First-time buyers get $8,000 tax credit in stimulus bill

First-time home buyer tax credit details reported today in a Wall St. Journal article:

ObamaHome buyers who hoped for a $15,000 tax credit to buy a new home, as promised by the Senate, will be disappointed. A proposed $35 billion credit to support home sales was jettisoned in favor of a more modest $2 billion to $3 billion provision.

The proposal would eliminate the repayment requirement in an existing tax credit for first-time home buyers, and raise the credit to $8,000 from $7,500. Congressional aides cautioned Wednesday that the credit's size was still subject to negotiation.


Response post:


The devil is in the details..

First off, this housing "credit" isn't stimulus at all. Don't be upset. You thought you were going to get 15K right off the bat? Think again.

Assuming you qualify (buyers in 08 will get the shaft),

1) The sum of WHATEVER the housing credit is (they seem to change it everyday) will BE SPLIT into two tax returns. Hence, two years.

2) The biggest catch of em all is, YOU MAY NOT BE ELIGIBLE for that full credit!! IT depends on your TAX LIABILITY. So the higher your income, the closer you will be to getting the full credit.

3) You can claim this credit in the 2008 tax return (even though you've purchased in 09)

4) You do not have to repay this credit.

5) You do not have to be a first time home buyer for this credit.

Posted by: DiggySRQ

Feb 09 Stimulus provisions

Look for another/larger real estate incentive for "first time" home payback required this time ?