Survey Reveals Qualities of Successful Agents – Important information for sellers that want to sell.

Real estate professionals who earn $100,000 or more per year show quite a few differences in how they do their job and the technology they use compared to real estate professionals who make $30,000 to $50,000 a year, according to a new survey conducted by InmanNext, a Web site operated by Inman News.

Surveying about 1,300 real estate agents, InmanNext found some of the following characteristics common to those who make $100,000 or more per year versus those who make less.

If your looking for these qualities in an agent to represent your real estate investments – look to Hallmark Idaho Properties

— Close more transactions: Sixty-six percent of real estate agents who make $100,000 or more per year say they closed 20 or more transactions in the year compared to about half of those who earn $30,000 to $50,000 who say they closed 10 or fewer transactions.

— Appeal to the high-end market: High-income agents tended to specialize in luxury homes, condos, and townhouses, and they were less likely to work with first-time buyers or REOs compared to mid-range earners.

— Work longer hours: Forty-two percent of high-income agents say they work between 40 to 50 hours a week, and 41 percent say they work more than 50 hours a week.

— Spend more on marketing: High-income agents tend to spend more money on their marketing. About 62 percent of middle-income agents reported spending less than $2,500 on their marketing for their business. On the other hand, 63 percent of high-income earners said they spent $5,000 or more per year on marketing.

— Spend more on technology: High-income earners also tend to spend more on technology purchases to aid them in their business. More than half said they spend $2,500 or more on technology each year, and a quarter spend $5,000 or more. Meanwhile, about 84 percent of middle-income earners say they spend less than $2,500 on technology purchases a year. As for technology preferences, high-income earners show a preference toward Apple Macintosh computers and iPhones, more so than mid-range earners.

— Use social networking and Web sites: Nearly half of high-income earners say they update their Web site at least a few times a week, while 39 percent of mid-range earners report updating their Web site or blog only once a month. High-income earners are also more connected on Facebook, with nearly half reporting 500 or more friends on Facebook compared to more than two-thirds of middle-income earners who say they have 500 or fewer friends on Facebook. High-income agents also were more likely to have a YouTube account and Twitter account and to have more followers than mid-range earners.

SOURCE: Realtor Daily News

Banks Pay Homeowners as much as $35,000 to Avoid Foreclosures

Banks, accelerating efforts to move troubled mortgages off their books, are offering as much as $35,000 or more in cash to delinquent homeowners to sell their properties for less than they owe.

Lenders have routinely delayed or blocked such transactions, known as short sales, in which they accept less from a buyer than the seller’s outstanding loan. Now banks have decided the deals are faster and less costly than foreclosures, which have slowed in response to regulatory probes of abusive practices. Banks are nudging potential sellers by pre-approving deals, streamlining the closing process, forgoing their right to pursue unpaid debt and in some cases providing large cash incentives, said Bill Fricke, senior credit officer for Moody’s Investors Service in New York.

Banks are offering as much as $35,000 or more in cash to delinquent homeowners to sell their properties for less than they owe

Losses for lenders are about 15 percent lower on the sales than on foreclosures, which can take years to complete while taxes and legal, maintenance and other costs accumulate, according to Moody’s. The deals accounted for 33 percent of financially distressed transactions in November, up from 24 percent a year earlier, said CoreLogic Inc., a Santa Ana, California-based real estate information company.

Karen Farley hadn’t made a mortgage payment in a year when she got what looked like a form letter from her lender.

“You could sell your home, owe nothing more on your mortgage and get $30,000,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) said in the Aug. 17 letter obtained by Bloomberg News.

$200,000 Short

Farley, whose home construction lending business dried up after the housing crash, said the New York-based bank agreed to let her sell her [Read more…]

IRS Tool to Helps Taxpayers Repay Their First-Time Homebuyer Credit

The IRS has a tool to help people who have to repay their First-Time Homebuyer Credit. Reminder letters will no longer be mailed to taxpayers who have to repay the credit but you can now use an online lookup tool on the IRS website to check your repayment obligation. The following four tips will help you look up information on your First-Time Homebuyer Credit:


1. Who needs to repay the credit? 
If you bought a home in 2008 and claimed the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, the credit is similar to a no-interest loan and must be repaid in 15 equal annual installments that began with your 2010 return. IRS for 5405Also, anyone who sold their home, or stopped using it as their main home, may have to repay the entire credit whether their home was purchased in 2008, 2009 or 2010.

2. Information needed to access the tool The First-Time Homebuyer Credit Tool will provide critical
account information to help you report your repayment obligation on your tax return. To access the tool you will need: your Social Security number, date of birth and complete address. If you file a joint return, you’ll only be able to access your portion of the First-Time Homebuyer Credit account information.

3. What the tool provides The tool will show the original amount of the credit, annual repayment amounts, total amount paid and the total balance left to be paid. You will be able to print your account page to share with your tax preparer and keep for your records.

4. How to repay the credit  To repay the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, add the amount you have to repay to any other tax you owe on your federal tax return. This could result in an additional tax owed or a reduced refund. To repay the credit, you report the repayment on line 59b on Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. If you make an installment payment, you do not need to attach Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of the Credit, to your tax return. However, if you are repaying the credit because the home stopped being your main home, you must attach Form 5405.

You can access the First-Time Homebuyer Credit Lookup Tool, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, visit the IRS.gov website.
Links:

Tax Help ‘en Español’

Tax information can be tough to understand in any language, but it can be even more difficult if it is not in your first language. The IRS offers a wide range of free and easy-to-use products and services for Spanish-speaking taxpayers. Here are 10 ways you can get help from the IRS if you need assistance with your federal taxes in Spanish:

  1. Get answers 24 hours a day seven days a week www.irs.gov/espanol has a wealth of information accessible all day, every day for individuals and businesses. You will find links to tax-related [Read more…]

Tax Breaks for Home Mortgage Debt Forgiveness to end in 2012

Unless the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 is extended again, “Time is Limited” for homeowners who want to ensure they aren’t hit with a big tax bill because they had to walk away from a mortgage obligation.

If you owe a debt to someone else and they cancel or forgive that debt, the canceled amount may be taxable.

If your considering selling via a “Short Sale”, you should seriously consider starting the process immediately as the short selling process can being very time consuming.  Unless the IRS rules are extended the timeline to market, sell, negotiate with the lender and close the loan is quite short.

The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualifies for the relief.

This provision applies to debt forgiven in calendar years 2007 through 2012. Up to $2 million of forgiven debt is eligible for this exclusion ($1 million if married filing separately). The exclusion does not apply if the discharge is due to services performed for the lender or any other reason not directly related to a decline in the home’s value or the taxpayer’s financial condition.

More information, including detailed examples can be found [Read more…]

Top 10 Tax Tips from the IRS

The income tax filing season has begun and important tax documents should be arriving in your mailbox. Even though your return is not due until April, you can make tax time easier on yourself with an early start. Here are the Internal Revenue Service’s top 10 tips to ensure a smooth tax-filing process.

1. Gather your recordsRound up any documents you’ll need when filing your taxes: receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support income or deductions you’re claiming on your return.

2. Be on the lookoutW-2s and 1099s will be coming soon; you’ll need these to file your tax return.

3. Have a question? Use the Interactive Tax Assistant available on [Read more…]