Real Estate Blog
Monday, February 23 2009
Gen X-ers, boomers, young parents or empty nesters, students or retirees, renters or homeowners, buyers or sellers....Though no one is immune to the current economic climate, it affects us each a bit differently. So to get the most out of the federal government’s new economic stimulus plan, we all need to read between the lines and take advantage of the features that most benefit our own situation.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most significant real estate provisions of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which President Obama signed into law on February 17, as well as other recent changes, that merit consideration. You may be able to use them to begin to enact your own economic recovery!
The First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit: The new law has expanded the benefits of this popular tax credit. In fact, as reported at CNNMoney.com, the National Association of Realtors has predicted that this credit could stimulate up to 300,000 home sales by enticing first-time buyers to get off the fence and into the market. The maximum credit is now $8,000, up from the original $7,500, for homes purchased between January 1, 2009, and December 1, 2009. First-time buyers can claim a credit of up to $8,000 or 10% of the home’s value, whichever is less. The credit can be taken on the 2008 or 2009 tax return. As long as the buyers remain in the home and continue to own it for at least three years, the credit need not be paid back. The income limitations are the same as in the original version of the credit. Individuals with adjusted gross income of less than $75,000 (or less than $150,000 on a joint return) may take the full amount of the credit. This tax credit expires December 1, 2009, so take advantage if you can.
Reverse Mortgage Loan Provisions: Reverse mortgages, which have been steadily increasing in popularity with the increasing age of the Baby Boomer generation, now have some new benefits. The limit on the amount of the FHA-insured reverse mortgage has been increased to $625,000. This applies nationwide, not just in high-cost geographical areas.
In addition, there is now a very attractive opportunity for senior citizens to use the reverse mortgage strategy to purchase a new home, without having to wait for the old home to sell. The old home can even be used to generate rental income.
Changes in Loan Limits: Higher cost homes became more affordable with enactment of the new law. The limit for FHA and conforming loans increased to $729,750. This especially helps people in high-cost areas of the country.
The Home Improvement Tax Credit: Some people are deciding that they would rather make improvements to the home they currently own rather than sell in the current market. This can make sense, depending on your situation. The improvements you make now can increase the profit you eventually realize on the sale of your home, so it is in your best interest to take advantage of the tax credits available for such items as energy-efficient windows, furnaces, and air conditioners. The credit was raised to 30% for eligible items.
To see the entire text of the new Act, visit my website, www.Ardolino.com, go to "Visit Our Blog," and see “The Stimulus Plan” entry for a link to the Library of Congress website. And as always, be sure to consult a qualified professional for advice regarding any legal or tax issues related to the above general discussion.
I am committed to keeping you abreast of market conditions, and I’ll continue to provide updated, pertinent information. For additional data, visit my website at www.Ardolino.com, where you’ll also find my new blog. Please take a look, and let me know what you think! If you have any questions, call me at 631-941-4300 or e-mail: Michael@Ardolino.com.
All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2009 by Michael Ardolino
Thursday, February 05 2009
Rather than lamenting the economy or waiting for a handout from the federal government, a number of local businesses in the Three Villages are taking meaningful action to combat the financial downturn. Led by the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, members are encouraged to stimulate shopping in their stores and offices by offering discounts and added values. It's the old tried–and-true principle of economics: lower prices and you increase sales.
Under the banner, "The Price is Right in the Three Villages This Winter," more than 50 businesses have listed their discounts, ranging from BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE, to many other significant deals. In a full page ad in The Village Times Herald and The Port Times Record, the businesses are lined up alphabetically, with their names, addresses and phone numbers, and their offers, for readers to see.
It's no secret that the lagging economy has created unprecedented shopping opportunities. And our needs continue, especially for our children, our homes, our cars and our health, as time passes. Sooner or later we have to venture forth and meet those needs and our local businesses have provided an occasion to do so with great savings, added values and customer service that is unmatched.
The Three Village Chamber of Commerce has made this possible.
During each of the four weeks of February, a full-page ad will run in the papers telling readers about the local bargains. The Chamber originated this enterprising idea, organ-ized their membership to participate, collected the information and, best of all, is paying for the ads. Chamber members are thus being served and this proactive Chamber is stimulating business. Our newspapers are helping by meeting the Chamber half way on the price. And residents, who have always supported the local business community, are being rewarded for their loyalty.
Although the Chamber acted out of a desire to help businesses, the Chamber has also made money with this idea — from an increase in membership. Businesses have to be paid members of the Chamber to be included for free in the ads.
This is a win-win-win situation all around.
We're proud of the can-do efforts of the Chamber. Kudos go to the new Chamber president, Michael Ardolino, the new executive director, David Woods, the officers and the entire board of directors for their leadership. It took imagination, hard work and the courage to reach into the Chamber's dwindling coffers to underwrite this shopping opportunity.
It also takes a sense of the whole. We in the Three Villages have a strong community with a shared history that dates back to before the Revolutionary War and common values that support a fine school district and many sports and cultural offerings. We are also proud of our business community.
When we have problems, we work together to solve them.
Now all of the above can also be said for the other villages that we serve with our newspapers. There is a pride of place and a sense of belonging. All have vibrant Chambers of Commerce and dynamic residents. If this model is successful in stimulating business in the Three Villages, it could be used by the other chambers and local businesses and professions. Together the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Getting people out to shop in one store or restaurant helps the others in town. And we at the newspapers stand ready with help in any such efforts.
The success of this venture now depends on the response of local residents. We urge our readers to pour over the list of sales and added values and patronize the local businesses who have put themselves out there. Look at the lists each week because there will be additions as the month progresses.
And if you have a business and would like to be included in subsequent weeks, call David Woods at 689-8838. For Chamber members and readers, The Price is Right.