Tag Archives: pittsburgh real estate agent

Change Flooring on a Budget

Today buyers are really paying attention to the flooring in homes. You would not believe how many buyers want to rip out all the carpet (even if it is nicer carpet). I had one buyer who was able to replace all the flooring in their home and it looked amazing. But not all buyers can afford this, especially first time home buyers.

So I was searching around and found some great options if you have vinyl or linoleum or even a beat up floor that needs refinished but really is at the ends of its life.  There may be this fabulous estate but very dated, you want it but don’t have the money to change out (right now) that old vinyl that is in great shape but from the 70’s or 80’s.   Why not try paint? It sounds crazy but check out this article, I came across.

 

 

Other Real Estate Markets

It is really interesting to me to hear about other real estate markets and what things sell for around the country and the world. One of my favorite TV channels is HGTV. I love watching people compare and pick out houses.   I also enjoy seeing how they decorate them after a few months of living there. It also gives you a really interesting view of these various markets. Sometimes you can see some very strange and exotic things.

One of show that really sticks in my mind is a House Hunters. The couple on this show was looking for a home in the Mediterranean. I cannot remember if it was Greece or not. They picked a house that I thought they would not because the long walk and steps to the door on the side of the hill was lengthy. This couple ended up buying it for $750,000 US right on the sea and believe it or not it still needed fixing up. It was practically ruins and had no plumbing. I wonder how they dealt with that on the side of a hill. I have no idea how they would get their furniture up there but they may need a mule.

Here is another interesting house that sold recently in NY City called the Skinniest House that was reported by Realtor.org and the Associated Press

” ‘Skinniest House’ Sells for $2.1 million;” A property dubbed New York City’s skinniest house sold recently for $2.1 million. The two-story Greenwich Village property is 9.5 feet wide and 42 feet long and has two bedrooms and two baths. The townhouse was listed last August for $2.7 million by Alex Nicholas, senior vice president of the Corcoran Group. It last sold in 2000 for $1.6 million. It is now for rent for $10,000 per month.”

Also see this Article From Washington City Paper, where the photo is from – by Ruth Samuelson.

Good Faith Estimate

A good faith estimate is a statement that you receive from your lender before making an offer on a home. This summary will tell you the loan amount, loan term, interest rate and monthly payment and how much to bring to closing amount other things. It is required by law that you receive this at the time of writing your offer. January 1, 2010 the government is requiring a new format for lenders. This is intended to protect borrowers from big surprises at the closing table. Keep in mind this statement is an estimate and can go up or down slightly.

Read more from Realtor.org on new changes on January 1, 2010

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

Veterans Day

We are truly blessed by the men and women who have fought for our freedom we have today. Here are some photo of Veteran War Memorials in downtown Leechburg, PA and next to my office in Allegheny Twp, Leechburg, PA 15656 that were taken today.

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Above photos in downtown Leechburg, PAÂ Painted mural on the side of a commercial brick building in Market Street

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above photos (Allegheny Twp) Leechburg, PA

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above photo is the driveway to The Allgheny Twp Municipal Building, Allegheny Twp, Leechburg, PAÂ (All photos copyright 2009, 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.  “

Interesting Sightings . . .

As a real estate agent, I really enjoy looking at homes. As you may have read from previous posts, there have been some rather outlandish things and ancient items and decor. Today, I was out with a buyer looking at multi-unit properties. The first one we went to was curious and intriguing. There were two sides, and on each side was an upper and lower apartment. One of the up stairs had the bath out in the hallway – not inside the locked apartment. We later found out when speaking to the owner that the home used to be a hotel about 100 years ago. There were old original stair cases on both sides that were in excellent condition with ornate detail in the woodwork. There were fireplaces in most of the rooms. Each room had been a keeping room in the hotel which was mainly used by guests for the opera house next door.  Since the owner happen to be there, she took us through and told us many stories about the house and the neighborhood being that it was in her family for years. She even told us where the secret cubbie holes where, that her dad had made as a child. The original hotel had four stair cases instead of the two that were currently there. Additional staircases made the traffic flow smoothly. Below is a photo of a stove that was in one of the apartments.

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The next home we viewed had a rather strange pipe coming out of the house. This duplex had a room on the third floor and there was a sink in it. There was no toilet and no tub – just the sink. Now even stranger, the sink drained out the side of the house and connected into the drain pipe from the rain gutter.  If anyone has any idea what they were thinking, I would be interested.

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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