Category Archives: Market News

The Latest Real Estate Market News for our Area

Forbes Says: Pittsburgh Is the Place to Buy a Home

Time and time again the statistics are putting Pittsburgh in the top affordable places to live. There are a lot of things to do and see and Pittsburgh has strong technology and healthcare jobs. As a photographer, the city is a great place for a wide range of subjects. You could spend the day there – possibilities are endless. If you are from out of state, consider the benefits of this city and the stable housing market.

“Families in the market for a house are shopping at the right time: Nationally, homes are near the most affordable they’ve been in 18 years. In the fourth quarter of 2009 housing was 62.4% more affordable than the same time a year earlier, according to the Housing Opportunity Index, published quarterly by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo. The best place to buy right now: Pittsburgh.”

Quoted from Forbes Article Feb 19, 2010

Related Blog Entries:

Pittsburgh Ranks Number One

Pittsburgh in the Top 5

Vandergrift, PA (NE Pittsburgh Suburb) Gets Ranked a Top Town in the Nation to Purchase a Home

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Tax Credit Perks

There are a lot of tax credit perks. The new law that was extended past November 30, 2009 has a lot of benefits. The new law applies to step up buyers moving up to their next home. If you have lived in your home as the primary residence for 5 of the last 8 years then you qualify. See links below for more helpful information.

But did you know that if you are stepping up and having trouble selling your home, you can still qualify without actually selling the first home. But. . . you must purchase the second home as your primary residence.  Not too bad. It is time to move. . . . Are you ready?

“There is no requirement that existing homeowners must have sold their home to be eligible for the $6,500 tax credit. However, Weichert encourages existing homeowners who want to benefit from this incentive to move quickly, particularly those who prefer to first sell their current home before purchasing a new one.” Quoted from : RIS Media – Repeat Buyers Need to Act Fast to Capitalize on Expanded Tax Credit

Tax Credit Details

Additional Tax Credit Details from Realtor.org

Frequently Ask Tax Credit Questions

AKHome.info Tax Credit Archives

Pittsburgh Comes in at Number 4!

Pittsburgh and the Metro Area proves time and time again a great section of the country to live. Â Home prices and Mortgages are stable and affordable in the region. The days on market are lower than other cities.

Top Cities that were least effected by the Recession from Forbes:

“To identify these cities, Forbes magazine ranked the 100 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas by employment rates, the conventional mortgage home price index, and the average days on the market for properties currently for sale.

The top cities on Forbes list were:”

* Omaha/Council Bluffs, Neb.
* San Antonio, Texas
* Austin-Round Rock, Texas
* Pittsburgh
* Harrisburg/Carlisle, Pa.
* Dallas/Fort Worth
* Rochester, N.Y.
* Houston
* Raleigh/Cary, N.C.
* Baton Rouge, La.”


Quoted from Realtor.org
and Forbes, Francesca Levy (11/19/2009)

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Heinz Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA

Photo Copyright, 2009 Amy S Myers

Home Sales Expected to Increase

According to Realtor.org home sales are expected to increase in the coming year. The tax credit has already shown to improve the market and the first time home buyer tax credit extension is expected to keep the momentum going bringing additional “step-up” buyers into the market. Don’t let the holidays slow you down. There is still a limited amount of time to find your dream home and get closing processed successfully. Find a good agent that can walk you through all the steps.

Here is what Realtor.org had to say:

“Home sales will increase 15 percent to about 5.7 million units and REALTOR® income will be up 20 percent in 2010, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun told a packed room of REALTORS today in a residential economic update at the 2009 NAR Conference & Expo.

Yun credited the home buyer tax credit with unleashing sales on the lower-end of the housing market this year, bringing up to 400,000 first-time buyers into the market who wouldn’t have bought otherwise. That influx tightened inventories of starter homes, shored up prices, and helped reduce households’ fear over continuing price drops.

This virtuous cycle will continue now that the federal government has extended the credit to mid-2010 and expanded it to make a smaller credit available to repeat buyers and to households with higher incomes. “The key is stabilizing prices and preserving household wealth,” he says.

Yun predicts the supply of homes to stabilize at the historic norm of six to seven months. Homes above $500,000 will remain elevated in the near-term, but that weakness will be offset by a hefty drop in starter-home inventories, which are running at about a five months supply.    . . . ”

Quoted from Realtor.org where you can read more.

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Photo Copyright 2007, Amy S Myers

Using Homebuyer Tax Credit for Down Payment

Buyers have inquired, and articles have been written about the possibility of using the first time homebuyer tax credit, or at least part of the funds, for a down payment on the purchase of home.  I had written previously about this opportunity..

The key to having funds be used for a down payment was finding someone who would fund this amount because it would really have to be a loan. Well, I actually saw this happen.  I recently had a closing in October, where the buyer for my sold listing actually did use the tax credit for the down payment.  The transaction contained seller’s assist (where the seller pays part of the closing fees) and the balance due after that was around $4k. PHFA (Pennsylvania Housing Financing Agency) backed the balance due amount. The buyer’s have 12 months to pay the approximately $4K amount back as an interest free loan. The funds to pay back would come after filing their taxes in the spring.  What we were told at the closing is, if they chose not to pay it off it would become a loan and would be a lien against the property.

What I did find out at the closing was the PHFA had run out of funds at the point of this closing so we were not likely to see funding again in the near future from PHFA. It was a great deal for the buyer because with the seller assist, VA backed funding, and the tax credit funds for the down payment, the cash due at closing from the buyer was “Zero dollars”.   This is extremely rare but apparently it does happen. The interesting thing was the buyer even had a credit due them at closing but due to the loan rules the buyer was not able to get any money in their pocket after the transaction so it had to go onto the principle of their loan.

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Photo Copyright 2007, Amy S Myers

Tax Credit Extension Signed into Law by President

Great News! It is official. The President has sign the homebuyer tax credit extension to law. Activity has already picked up in the area this week.

“Obama Signs Extended Tax Credit into Law”-Â Expected to contribute approximately $22 billion to the economy, Congress overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan measure this week extending the $8,000 home buyer tax credit to April 30, 2010″. . . . .

More people are now eligible to take advantage of the law, which includes a $6,500 tax credit for buyers who are current home owners and have lived in their home for five of the past eight years.”Â

“Which Properties Are Eligible? Â – The 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit may be applied to primary residences, including: single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and co-ops.

How Much Will the Credit Be?  – The maximum allowable credit for home buyers is $8,000. Each home buyer’s tax credit is determined by two factors:

1) The price of the home—the credit is equal to 10% of the purchase price of the home, up to $8,000.

2) The buyer’s income—single buyers with incomes up to $75,000 and married couples with incomes up to $150,000—may receive the maximum tax credit.” – Quoted from Realtor.org

Additional details on the tax credit

Here is a helpful chart on the new home buyer tax credit changes. You will be able to compare the first home buyer tax credit plan that expires November 30, 2009 and the new plan that starts December 1, 2009. Chart supplied by the NAR (National Association of Realtors)

Additional info from CNN.com

“The bill also made more homeowners eligible to claim the credit on their taxes. First-time buyers — those who have not owned a home in the past three years — still qualify for an $8,000 rebate. But now people who want to trade up can also qualify. Those who have owned and occupied a residence for at least five years out of the past eight can claim a $6,500 tax credit if they close on a purchase by the end of June.

“The new version of the tax credit has the potential to stimulate the housing market even more than the old version due to the fact that more people will qualify under the new rules,” said Gibran Nicholas, chairman of the CMPS Institute, an organization that certifies mortgage bankers and brokers.  “

Senate Democrats Agreed to Extend First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

Great News! Senate Democrats Agreed to to Extend First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit. If you have paused your home search, get ready to go back out and look. The monetary cap is not as high but still very much worth the deal. For you home buyers who are ready to upgrade to your second home, now is the time because the buyers are going to still be enticed. Make sure you have your house priced right. There are still some great buys for “step up” buyers so have fun shopping.

“Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) says Senate Democrats have agreed to extend the first-time home buyer tax credit. The latest version extends the program to home sales signed — not closed — by April 30. Purchasers would have another 60 days to close the sale. The credit will also be expanded to include so-called step-up buyers who have lived in their current home for at least five years.

“The credit would be cut nearly 10 percent to a $7,290 cap. Income eligibility for first-time home buyers would stay the same, but it would rise for step-up buyers to $125,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples.”

Source: Bloomberg News, Dawn Kopecki and Ryan Donmoyer (10/27/2009)and Realtor.org

img_6135-450lPhoto Copyright 2007-2009, Amy S. Myers

Possible Tax Extension Likely?

Today at my Real Estate board meeting it was discussed that there is a good chance of the Tax Credit being extended.  Here are some items that are being proposed for the new extension according to a guest lobbyist for government affairs:

1)Â The tax credit could apply to “step up buyers”, buyers who will be upgrading to a new home.

2)Â The “step up buyers” will have had to be in the home they are leaving for at least 7 years

3)Â Step up buyers” may have to be in their next home for at least three years.

4)Â The tax credit new deadline may extended to sometime in the spring of 2010.

5)Â If an executed contract is secured before the deadline, an extension for the credit could be possible for up to 60 days to complete closing.

Here is some additional information from the Associated Press and Realtor.org

“It seems likely that the U.S. Senate will approve a deal to extend the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, but the devil is in the details.

Florida Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson told reporters traveling to Florida with President Obama on Monday that he thought that the extension would be approved, but both senators and representatives are among those who think that there should be some fiscal offset for the cost of the extension. . . . .

The proposal in the Senate that appears to have the most likelihood of passage would extend the $8,000 credit through March 31, then its value would drop by $2,000 for each of the subsequent three quarters of 2010. This plan was offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat.”

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photo copyright 2007-2009, Amy S Myers

Existing Home Sales Had a Large Rebound

According to the information below from Realtor.org, first-time home buyers accounted for almost half of home sales. I hope that the tax credit can be extended. Many of my recent activity has been buyers trying get the tax credit. This credit has also helped some of my sellers upgrade to their second home due to the first time home buyers purchasing their home. It will be interesting to see what congress decides in the coming weeks.

“Existing-home sales bounced back strongly in September with first-time buyers driving much of the activity, marking five gains in the past six months, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

Existing-home sales—including single-family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops—jumped 9.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million units in September from a level of 5.10 million in August, and are 9.2 percent higher than the 5.10 million-unit pace in September 2008. Sales activity is at the highest level in more than two years, since it hit 5.73 million in July 2007.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said favorable conditions matched with a tax credit are boosting home sales. “Much of the momentum is from people responding to the first-time buyer tax credit, which is freeing many sellers to make a trade and buy another home,” he said. “We are hopeful the tax credit will be extended and possibly expanded to more buyers, at least through the middle of next year, because the rising sales momentum needs to continue for a few additional quarters until we reach a point of a self-sustaining recovery.” . . . . .

Conditions for First-Time Buyers:

Early information from a large annual consumer study to be released on Nov. 13, the 2009 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers shows that first-time home buyers accounted for more than 45 percent of home sales during the past year. A separate practitioner survey shows that distressed homes accounted for 29 percent of transactions in September.”

Read More . . . Quoted from Realtor.org

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Photo Copyright, Amy S. Myers 2009

Vandergrift, PA Gets Ranked a Top Town in the Nation to Purchase a Home

Vandergrift, PA tucked away NE of Pittsburgh, PA (founded in 1895) was the first town of its kind. This town was a planned industrial town and created to be sold to the workers of a Steel company that was founded at the time. George McMurtry, who was president of Apollo Iron and Steel (located in Apollo across the river from Vandergrift) needed to room to grow his company. Vandergrift was a large 650 acre farm that was picked to be the place for this new town. Frederick Law Olmsted designed the town and after being approached by George McMurtry at the 1983 World’s Fair.

Lots in the town were offered to the workers of the mill so they could have their own homes. The town was built with paved streets and sidewalks. The homes included water, natural gas, electric and sewer lines. The town was actually built in advance and control turned over to the workers. At this time in history, this was a unique idea in America.

Today, Vandergrift is getting reborn. Buildings in the town are being renovated and updated with the help of the V.I.P (Vandergrift Improvement Program). Washington Avenue boasts of its large Victorian Homes with some on the National Register. There are lots of cute shops and on holidays and special occasions and Kiski Area football games residents and visitors line the streets for parades.

Read more about how Vandergrift was recently recognized nationally:

“A real estate Web site has determined Vandergrift ZIP code 15690 — which includes portions of Allegheny, Parks and Gilpin townships — is among the best places in the country to buy a home.

Using a system that considers home values and school performance, cyberhomes.com ranked the Vandergrift area as the fourth-best community in the country to live in its “2009 Home Value-Schools Ratings Report Card.”

In addition, businessweek.com created its ranking and put Vandergrift at the top. The site used Cyberhomes data in building its list.

What makes Vandergrift’s appearance on the lists notable is the relatively low value of homes in the area.

The median sales price in the Vandergrift area, according to Cyberhomes, is $65,600.

Median sale prices for the three communities ranking higher on the Cyberhomes list range from $260,000 to more than $725,000.

“(We) selected Vandergrift as an example of an area where home values are relatively affordable — as compared to the national average and Pittsburgh area — and schools performance is very highly rated,” said Sarah Weissman, Cyberhomes product manager.

The median sales price in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area is about $125,000, according to Cyberhomes.”

Quoted from TibLive News

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Photos Copyright – Amy Myers, 2001-2009