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Archives for December 2011

10 Cities Where List Prices Soared Last Month

Median list prices nationwide have risen 4.05 percent on a year-over-year basis, according to November housing data of 146 metro areas from Realtor.com. Fewer cities are reporting year-over-year list price declines, “suggesting a growing optimism on the part of sellers about 2012 market conditions,” according to Realtor.com.

So where have prices risen the most in the last month? The following are the 10 cities that saw the largest median list price increases from October to November. [Read more…]

Americans Eager to Buy, Sellers Aren’t Happy?

Nearly 80 percent of home buyers say now is a great time to buy a home, but sellers say it’s not a great time to sell, according to a new study, “The Great Recession and Attitudes Toward Homebuying,” released this week by the Mortgage Bankers Association. In fact, home selling sentiment has fallen to record lows.

As for home buyers, they certainly have plenty to be happy about — housing prices have fallen and interest rates are at record lows, pushing affordability to record levels and allowing buyers to snag great deals on housing.

Prospective homebuyers believe now is a good time to buy, given today’s low home prices and low mortgage interest rates

But sellers, on the other hand, are getting [Read more…]

It’s Happened Again! Mortgage rates hit another record low

Happy holidays, homebuyers! You just got a very nice present.

Lowest Interest Rates in 40-years

Mortgage rates have hit record lows, with the interest rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, the most popular choice of homebuyers, averaging 3.91% this week, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

That’s down from 3.94% last week, and is the lowest in the 40-year history of the survey.

Rates have fallen 0.9% since the beginning of the year. For a homeowner with a $200,000 mortgage, that means a savings of [Read more…]

Special Edition Tax Tips – IRS

Six Year-End Tips to Reduce 2011 TaxesThe IRS wants to remind all taxpayers that with the New Year fast approaching, there is still time for you to take steps that can lower your 2011 taxes. However, you usually need to take action no later than Dec. 31 in order to claim certain tax benefits.

Here are six tax-saving tips for you to consider before the calendar turns to 2012

1. Make Charitable Contributions – If you itemize deductions, your donations must be made to qualified charities no later than Dec. 31 to be deductible for 2011. You must have a canceled check, a bank statement, credit card statement or a written statement from the charity, showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution for all cash donations. Donations charged to a credit card by Dec. 31 are deductible for 2011, even if the bill isn’t paid until 2012. If you donate clothing or household items, they must be in good used condition or better to be deductible.

2. Install Energy-Efficient Home Improvements – You still have time this year to [Read more…]

Know The Down Payment Gift-Giving Rules

Last year, 27 percent of first-time home buyers received a financial gift from relatives or friends that they applied toward a down payment on a new home — up from 22 percent in 2009, according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®.

While gift-giving a down payment has increased, those who receive such gifts need to make sure they follow IRS and banks’ gift-giving rules.

1. Home owners still need to come up with at least some of the down payment on their own. A spokesperson with Freddie Mac told Newsday that loans backed by Freddie Mac require that when the loan-to-value is greater than 80 percent, the buyer will need to come up with at least 5 percent of the purchase price from his or her own funds. For Fannie Mae loans, Fannie allows all down payment funds to come as a gift on one-unit principal residences. “The thing that is tricky about this is that few people know [Read more…]

Ten I.R.S. Facts for Mortgage Debt Forgiveness

IRS Tax Tip 2011-44

If you are a homeowner whose mortgage debt is partly or entirely forgiven during tax years 2007 through 2012, you may be able to claim special tax relief and exclude the debt forgiven from your income.

Here are 10 facts the IRS wants you to know about Mortgage Debt Forgiveness.


1.  Normally, debt forgiveness results in taxable income. However, under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, you may be able to exclude up to $2 million of debt forgiven on your principal residence.

2.  The limit is $1 million for a married person filing a separate return.

3.  You may exclude debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in a foreclosure.

4.  To qualify, the debt must have been [Read more…]

Housing starts highest since April 2010

Housing starts rose 9.3% last month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 685,000 — the highest annual rate since April 2010.

Starts for units in buildings with at least five units rose 32.2% in November, climbing to a rate of 230,000, the highest level since September 2008. Meanwhile, starts of new single-family homes rose 2.3% to an annual rate of 447,000.

New construction of U.S. houses rose in November to the highest annual rate since April 2010, with multi-family activity leading the monthly growth, according to data released Tuesday by the Commerce Department.

Starts in October were [Read more…]

Payroll tax-cut extension adds $17 a month to typical mortgage

WASHINGTON — Who is paying for the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut working its way through Congress? The cost is being dropped in the laps of most people who buy homes or refinance beginning next year.

The typical person who buys a $200,000 home or refinances that amount starting on Jan. 1 would have to pay roughly $17 more a month for their mortgage, thanks to a fee increase included in the payroll tax cut bill that the Senate passed Saturday. The White House said the fee increases would be phased in gradually.

The legislation provides a two-month extension of a payroll tax cut and long-term unemployment benefits that would otherwise expire on Jan. 1. It would also delay for two months a cut in Medicare reimbursements for doctors that is scheduled to take effect on New Year’s Day. The House is expected to act on the bill early next week. Two more months of the Social Security tax cut amounts to a savings of about $165 for a worker making $50,000 a year.

To cover its $33 billion price tag, the measure increases the fee that the government-backed mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, charge to insure home mortgages. [Read more…]

Keeping It Real (Estate) As Feds Bust Online Scamster

Let me tell you right here, upfront, that things didn’t end well for Keith Gunter, 49, of Illinois. According to federal prosecutors and Gunter’s plea agreement, between July 2006 and July 2007, Gunter represented himself as a real estate developer and schemed to sell real property over the Internet auction site eBay.

To cut to the chase, on December 12, 2011, Gunter pleaded to three counts each of wire fraud and mail fraud in federal court in the Northern District of Alabama.

Okay, let’s stop right here. Gotta tell ya, I may be willing to take certain risks in my life, fact is, I have; however, lemme tell ya, I sure as hell ain’t buying no real estate from an eBay online auction site.  There’s just some limits as to even my stupidity and buying real estate online just doesn’t seem to be too sensible.  Moreover, I don’t care if it’s Hovnanian or KB Homes or Beazer or Toll Brothers or any other well-known real estate developer — and Mr. Gunter here doesn’t even come close to having the heft of those companies.  I’m not buying a home or land, sight unseen, over the Internet — and I sure as hell ain’t [Read more…]

Mortgage apps shoot up 4.1% on refi surge, low rates

Mortgage applications filed in the United States shot up 4.1% last week as refinancing volumes surged on record low interest rates for the year.

The Mortgage Bankers Association released its Market Composite Index – a matrix that measures loan application volume – Wednesday morning, showing an uptick in refinancing activity. The index rose 4.1% on a seasonally adjusted rate from a week earlier.

In addition, the refinance index, which measures refinancing applications, shot up 9.3%, while the purchase index [Read more…]