Thursday, December 20, 2012

December Holiday Newsletter!

Animals singing “Deck The Halls”

Click HERE to view full newsletter!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Great “As Is” Debate » December 2012

The Great “As Is” Debate » December 2012

When you are entering into a contract to buy a home and you are told that the home is being sold ‘AS IS’…what goes through your mind?  Some think of the old movie “Money Pit”.  In some cases you wouldn’t be completely wrong. 

Now lately in some cases here in Arizona sellers are choosing to sell their home with this addendum attached.  So what rights are you giving up if you agree to “As Is”;

And I quote from the link above;

The buyer waives the seller warranties pursuant to Section 5a of the residential contract. Therefore, the seller has no obligation to make any repairs to ensure that heating, cooling, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems (including swimming pool and/or spa, motors, filter systems, cleaning systems, and heaters, if any), free-standing range/oven, and built-in appliances are in working condition at the earlier of possession or close of escrow. However, the seller is obligated to maintain and repair the premises so that the premises is in substantially the same condition as on the date of contract acceptance, and all personal property not included in the sale and all debris will be removed. For example, if the swimming pool motor is not in working condition at the time of contract acceptance, the Addendum releases the seller from the obligation to repair it pursuant to Section 5a of the residential contract. If the swimming pool motor was in working condition at the time of contract acceptance, but malfunctions during escrow, the seller is obligated to make repairs so that the pool motor is in substantially the same condition at close of escrow.

The “As Is” Addendum also requires the seller to acknowledge that selling the home “As Is” does not relieve the seller of the legal obligation to disclose all known material latent defects to the buyer. Additionally, the buyer acknowledges that the buyer has been advised to seek appropriate counsel regarding the risks of buying a home in “As Is” condition. Both buyers and sellers should be educated about the provisions of the AAR “As Is” Addendum prior to its execution and counseled as to their rights and obligations in an “As Is” transaction.

     Click on the link to find out more and make sure you know your rights! 


Monday, November 26, 2012

November 2012 Newsletter

6 Ways to Get a Great Mortgage Deal
By Ismat Sarah Mangla 

Finding an affordable house is no longer a problem but qualifying for a mortgage can be. Six tips to getting a mortgage and a good rate. Put your credit on ice. The higher your credit score, the lower your rate: The best rates go to those with a 760 or more, says credit-score expert John Ulzheimer.

Read more, click HERE!

To read the entire newsletter, click HERE!

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 2012 Market Report

 Here is the Market Report for the period ending October 2012.  For a more thorough understanding of how the market is shifting and how this affects you, please give me a call and we can discuss it in more detail.

Closed Sales Report Analysis:
(click on any graph for larger image)
October did not follow the trends of the prior two years where we saw the number of closed sales drop Instead, October saw a 7.4% increase over the prior month. The statistics show that we had 6,232 residential homes sell in the month of October in Maricopa County. It will be important to watch this trend over the next few months to see if there is a continuous shift in trends compared to the prior years.

For buyers, this means that competition for homes remains even higher, as more homes sell and are no longer an option for buyers. We continue to see homes sell well above list price AND cash buyers continue to have an edge where there are bidding wars, especially when homes are priced below $150,000. Buyers should continue to carefully work with their real estate professional to understand the market AND how they can compete with the market demand and other buyers who may be in a financial position that is more appealing to the seller.

For the full report, click HERE!

To say thank you to all the Veterans-- a group working for you!

Once our military men and women come home and try to become a part of society they have a lot of challenges and this group is determined to help with housing, vocational studies and all of the other things that seem to challange these great men and women who served our country in one of the hardest times to do so!! 
 I want to get the word out to let them know there IS help and each and every one of us Americans appreciate all you did for us!!  Click on the article to read more…

Friday, November 2, 2012

Well it is that time again....Time to "Fall Back"

Come early Fall, many people in the U.S. wonder when exactly that old phrase "Fall back, Spring forward" will come in handy for daylight savings. In 2012, Daylight Saving Time, as it is formally called, ends on Sunday.  Fall back! Daylight Saving Time for 2012 will end on Sunday, Nov. 4, when clocks will be set back at 2 a.m. in the United States.      
Daylight Saving Time for 2012 is coming to an end this weekend on Sunday, Nov. 4, when clocks will be set back at 2a.m. giving us an extra hour of sleep. 

On Sunday at 2a.m., you'll move clocks back one hour and gain 60 minutes of extra time, sleep or partying that morning. However, if you go to bed early, it is recommended to set clocks back an hour before, to ensure the proper time when you wake up. Some electronic devices, like smartphones, automatically change to daylight saving time, so no need to set those iPhones back.
However, many U.S. states do not observe daylight saving time, like Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
For many years, Daylight Saving began much earlier than November. In 2005, the Energy Policy Act altered the start and end dates of daylight saving time. The new act went into effect in 2007 and changed the dates in an attempt to save energy; From then on, clocks were set forward on the second Sunday of March instead of the first Sunday of April and set back one hour on the first Sunday in November rather than the last Sunday of October.
Many fire departments encourage U.S. residents to use Daylight Saving as a time to change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well, as a precaution.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 2012 Newsletter

Phoenix, Arizona foreclosure activity falls again
By Kristena Hansen

Foreclosure activity throughout metro Phoenix and Arizona continued tumbling this summer at a rate that far outpaced the nation, according to the latest report released Tuesday by  CoreLogic.  Metro Phoenix’s foreclosure rate, meaning the percentage of all outstanding residential mortgages in a particular area that are in some stage of the foreclosure process, in July was 2.18 percent.

Read more, click HERE!

Read entire newsletter, click HERE!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

10 things you need to know about the 3.8% tax that could go into effect 2013

Here is the Top Ten Things You Need to know about the New 3.8% Real Estate Sales Tax

When you add up all of your income from every possible source, and that total is less than $200,000 ($250,000 on a joint tax return), you will NOT be subject to this tax.

The 3.8% tax will NEVER be collected as a transfer tax on real estate of any type, so you’ll NEVER pay this tax at the time that you purchase a home or other investment property.

You’ll NEVER pay this tax at settlement when you sell your home or investment property. Any capital gain you realize at settlement is just one component of that year’s gross income.

If you sell your principal residence, you will still receive the full benefit of the $250,000 (single tax return)/$500,000 (married filing joint tax return) exclusion on the sale of that home.
If your capital gain is greater than these amounts, then you will include any gain above these amounts as income on your Form 1040 tax return.

Even then, if your total income (including this taxable portion of gain on your residence) is less than the $200,000/$250,000 amounts, you will NOT pay this tax.

If your total income is more than these amounts, a formula will protect some portion of your investment.

The tax applies to other types of investment income, not just real estate. If your income is more than the $200,000/$250,000 amount, then the tax formula will be applied to capital gains, interest income, dividend income and net rents (i.e., rents after expenses).

The tax goes into effect in 2013. If you have investment income in 2013, you won’t pay the 3.8% tax until you file your 2013 Form 1040 tax return in 2014. The 3.8% tax for any later year will be paid in the following calendar year when the tax returns are filed.

In any particular year, if you have NO income from capital gains, rents, interest or dividends, you’ll NEVER pay this tax, even if you have millions of dollars of other types of income.

The formula that determines the amount of 3.8% tax due will ALWAYS protect $200,000 ($250,000 on a joint return) of your income from any burden of the 3.8% tax. For example, if you are single and have a total of $201,000 income, the 3.8% tax would NEVER be imposed on more than $1000.

It is true investment income from rents on an investment property could be subject to the 3.8% tax. BUT: The only rental income that would be included in your gross income and therefore possibly subject to the tax is net rental income: gross rents minus expenses like depreciation, interest, property tax, maintenance and utilities.

The tax was enacted along with the health care legislation in 2010. It was added to the package just hours before the final vote and without review. NAR strongly opposed the tax at the time, and remains hopeful that it will not go into effect. The tax will no doubt be debated during the upcoming tax reform debates in 2013.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Recovery is the buzz word....finally!!

The National Housing Market Continues to Improve

Mortgage rates have reached record lows, making home ownership more affordable than ever before. Americans considering buying a home should feel secure about investing in real estate; the housing market is continuing to improve.

July saw an increase in both the number of homes sold and the number of contracts signed. The number of total existing home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.47 million, a growth of 2.3 percent from June's total of 4.37 million. The Pending Home Sales Index―which reflects the number of contracts signed―also increased in July, reaching levels well above those reported last year. July's index of 101.7 is 2.4 percent above June's figures and a full 12.4 percent above July 2011's figures, when the index topped 90.5. The index has fluctuated month to month, but there have been year-over-year gains reported for the past 15 months.

July's quick sales pace was reflected in the time homes stayed on the market. A third of all the homes bought were listed for sale for less than thirty days; only one in five homes remained on the market six months or longer. The median time a home was available for purchase in July was 69 days, a 29.6 percent improvement over July 2011's median time of 98 days.

A driving force behind the quicker sales pace was a drop in inventory. By the end of July, the total inventory of homes on the housing market would have taken 6.4 months to sell at the current sales rate. This is 31.2 percent below inventory levels from a year ago when the supply of homes would take 9.3 months to sell.

The drop in supply coupled with the increase in demand due to low mortgage rates lead to an increase in housing prices. In July, the national median existing home price for all types of housing―including single-family, townhomes, condos, and co-ops―reached $187,300, an increase of 9.4 percent from last year's median price. This represents the strongest gain in housing prices since January 2006, when the median price increased 10.2 percent from 2005 levels. The National Association of Realtor's economists expect the upward trend to continue well into 2013; median existing home prices could rise by 4.5 to 5 percent in 2012, and an additional 5 percent in 2013.

Tips and Tricks

The National Housing Market Continues to Improve

Mortgage rates have reached record lows, making home ownership more affordable than ever before. Americans considering buying a home should feel secure about investing in real estate; the housing market is continuing to improve.

July saw an increase in both the number of homes sold and the number of contracts signed. The number of total existing home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.47... Read More
Home Decor Evolution: Trends to Try for an Instant Update

Gone are the days when a stylish home and a busy family have to be mutually exclusive. Home decorating is hotter than ever and everyone is getting in on the trend.

With an ever-increasing focus on DIY design projects, resources such as shelter magazines, design blogs, TV shows and online home decor retailers are making high design accessible to any homeowner. If your budget doesn't include hiring an interior decorator to update your decor... Read More
5 Ways to Make Real Estate Affordable

With rents rising rapidly, the appeal of leasing is waning. Meanwhile, ultra-low interest rates and deeply discounted properties make buying an appealing option. Here are some ways you can buy property, even if your income is low or your credit isn't perfect.

Consider a duplex or triplex. Duplexes usually cost less per square foot than single-family homes, and the rent from the extra unit can make monthly... Read More
The Pros and Cons of Adjustable-Rate Mortgages

When it was revealed that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had refinanced his home with an adjustable-rate mortgage, many people could not figure out what was more shocking: a multibillionaire taking out a loan on a $7 million house or the 1.05 percent interest rate that Zuckerberg received on the loan.

With interest rates at historic lows, adjustable-rate mortgages do not seem to offer much of an advantage for potential home buyers. Of course, for someone as rich as Zuckerberg, the risks are essentially nonexistent. If interest rates suddenly spiked, he could easily pay off the mortgage; alternatively, he would benefit from significantly below-market interest payments if rates... Read More
Fresh Scents Make Your Home Seem Welcoming

Test your home's aroma by going outside for at least ten minutes, and then re-enter with your olfactory senses on high alert. What strikes your nose first? Visitors make snap judgments, sometimes subliminally, based on what they smell as they walk through your front door. Any effort to improve the visual greeting will crumble a bit in the face of unpleasant odors. Read on for the best way to create a welcoming aromatic atmosphere.

Identify, Eradicate, Cleanse
Once you've received a bad odor diagnosis in your home, search for the source. Common culprits for a stinky atmosphere include fetid garbage, cigarette smoke... Read More
Elaine Beery  -  (480) 570-1912
Tips & Tricks Real Estate Report  -  October 2012 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 2012 Newsletter

NAR: existing home sales in July rise

As most economists predicted, the National Association of Realtors’ existing home sales report for July improved, as monthly sales rose in every region but the West, which the NAR points out is due primarily to “very tight” inventory. Nationally, sales of existing homes rose 2.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.47 million in July from 4.37 million in June, and are up 10.4 percent over July 2011, “even with constraints of affordable inventory,” the association noted in a statement.

Learn more, click HERE!
For full newsletter click HERE

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Top 5 things to consider when buying a new home in Arizona.

The American dream is home ownership, to have a place to call your own.  Now more than ever since 2005 have folks turned to the builders to get their new home.  As prices for resale homes climb in the Arizona market, folks are looking for other means to buy in a community already established!  Here are some stats on one city in particular, Gilbert Arizona--the new home permits issued 1,896 since the beginning of the year. This trumps last year total of 1,545 for the total year!  You can read in more detail about this by following this link;

Now for the 5 things to watch out for when considering a new home;

*Be aware that in order to have someone to represent you in the transaction, you shouldn't just walk in to a showroom.  Always have an agent you choose to represent you with you- at least for the first time...that is a good practice so the agent you know looking out for your best interests will be on your side during the signing and all the while the home is being built!  So once you fill out a card or information sheet at the builder--what you don't realize is you have agreed to let the agent that solely represents the builder, help you buy a home.  Now many times there is nothing wrong with this, but it is something you should be aware of as your best interests are not going to be taken into consideration.  

*Your taxes for the first year are going to be based on the dirt the home is sitting on. This means your monthly payment- if you did get a loan with the taxes included in the payment will be lower for the first will then increase for the new year as the assessor will add in your home.  This could mean up from $100-500.00 a month more, but no one can tell you exactly how much it will be as it will be based on how much you paid for the home and what the assessed value of the home, only a ballpark based on what others in the community saw as a raise.  (A good agent will be able to give you this data)

*Deposits should be held by an escrow company not by the builder.  You want your money to be held by a third party to protect you.  The Builder usually requires up to 3 different deposits.  The first will be the "earnest deposit" usually not more than $2,500- based on the base price of the home.  Then they have you go to the design center.  This is where your homes price is adjusted by adding items you want in your home.  Usually most builders have a "standard package" included in their base price which gives you a few choices of colors for the home that will include carpet, tile, fixtures, cabinets, electrical options, and so on, and so on. this is usually when they want the second deposit, and the third deposit is when the framing of the home and most of the other components of the home have passed codes and they are ready to do the finish work on the home.  All of these deposits should be made out to the title company and if not, you need to ask how will the funds be used, and are they refundable.

*Make sure you are using a reputable builder from the start.  Go to the registrar of contractor’s website to see if there are any claims against them and to make sure they are in compliance.

Finally and I would say most importantly, you should do is ask for the Public Report in advance of signing ANY documents.  Your Realtor can get this for you, too!!  This report tells you any and all things about the home, the soil, the water rights, are you in a flood zone (yes, there are some areas that will need flood insurance in Arizona) are you near an airport, anything you might want to know about the community and the plans for the community as well will be in this report. Read this document and fully understand what it is you are buying.

This is good standard of practice for making sure you know all you need to know when buying a home!!  If you need help or have questions please let me know- I would be happy to help.  



Saturday, August 4, 2012

Slim inventory causes multi offers on properties, and buyers are bidding up!!

Well we right now we have what I am calling the perfect storm.  Interest rates are still at an all-time low, prices on homes are again low (it is cheaper to buy than to rent a home right now) and on top of all of that banks are offering assistance with closing cost.  How can you go wrong?   Folks that have been holding on for dear life to their home, they are now in a position to sell and finally not have to compete with short sales or foreclosed property.  Yes, they are still here—but 58% of all homes sold in the past 3 months have been regular sales…Music to our ears!!   

With the Debt forgiveness act ready to expire at the end of the year—if you think you need to sell for less than you owe, now could be a GREAT time to do so.  This act allows you to sell your property for less than owed, and the difference is not taxable.  Will they extend this act?  Hard to say but I do know if they don’t you will be liable to the tax on the difference based on what your tax bracket is.  Now of course I am not your tax account- so if you are considering this please do yourself a favor and get legal and or tax advice.   

So if you have been thinking of selling, right now is the time!  Feel free to go to my website there is some great information about what your choices are and some items for getting ready to sell your home.  If you want to see what your home is worth, give me a call or email and I will be happy to schedule a free consultation!  480-570-1912 or .

If you are just curious to see what is out on the market, then feel free to go to to see what you can get for your money after you sell- or perhaps you just want an investment property…Now would be a good time for that as well! 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

Here is the Market Report for the period ending June 2012. For a more thorough understanding of how the market is shifting and how this affects you, please give me a call and we can discuss it in more detail.

To view entire report, click HERE!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Everything you are looking for, right here in Mesa...

The city of Mesa is so amazing, there is something for everyone! Are you looking for a great dinner? Got it...Looking for a challenging golf course?  Got it…Looking for romance?  Got it…Looking for adventure?  Got it… 
Well you get the idea.  If you haven’t visited, you should.  If you have been thinking of moving here- you need to check this place out!! 

There are so many things to fill up your days and nights, the only way you could be board is if you choose to be!   

Between the festivals, the art fairs, and don’t forget you have the light rail going right through Mesa, so even if you’re not into what is going on in Mesa that day- you can be in Downtown Phoenix within about 15-25 minutes…for all the things a big city has to offer.  

Here is a guide to some of the awesome sights and sound that Mesa has to offer!  

If you are thinking of buying in Mesa, I would love to have a chance to earn your business…I have been down here in the valley of the sun for about 7 years now, and just love it—so let me be your guide! 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June Market Report

Here is the Market Report for the period ending May 2012. Prices are the highest they have been in 3.5 years, inventory continues to fall, and homes are selling faster than ever.

For a more thorough understanding of how the market is shifting and how this affects you, please give me a call and we can discuss it in more detail.

To view entire report, click HERE!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Phoenix housing market saw a large increase in monthly gain over April statistics.

Well, anyone in Real Estate can tell you May was a very busy month in real estate!  everyone has their theory as to why, but all in all, bottom line- "it is a good time to buy a home in Arizona".  With prices still low, interest rates at an amazing low rates and some great programs out there to help folks buy a home.  Not to mention it is cheaper to buy a home than it is to rent one?  Why not! 

So this is to call all of the folks that have been sitting on the fence, thinking you will wait until things hit "bottom".  Folks Bottom was in our market about September/October of last don't want to wait any longer, as prices are just starting to crawling upwards!

Here is a link you might find interesting;

If you know someone who might be looking to buy or better yet sell a home- as our inventory is historiclly low, call or email me and let me know and I will do my best to help them!  Or better yet, take a look at my website use the Map Search and you will be searching the Actual MLS for home in Mesa, Gilbert, Queen Creek or any where in the Metro Phoenix Area.  I want to earn your business, so hopefully giving you access to the MLS will be a good start!!   

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 2012 Newsletter

Real Estate Outlook: Green Construction Predicted to Grow
By Carla Hill

According to the latest McGraw-Hill construction SmartMarket Report the share of green homes on the market is expected to grow by leaps and bounds in the next four years.

To read more, click HERE

To read the newsletter in it's entirety, click HERE

Thursday, June 14, 2012

3.8% tax on Real Estate Some official answers...

Well, perhaps you I have been hit up for answers to questions about the "Real Estate Tax" or sometimes referred to by the "Health Care Bill"
Hopefully you can see my intent. This is not a political blog, so no matter if you are on one side or the other- this is just some clean facts.
 I found a few good sorces to help clear up some myths and how this tax should work.  First one is the National Association of Realtors put out a brochure;

Brochure for 3.8% tax   


on the REALTOR website I found this very informative  page; 

Well my friends, I hope that helps clear the fog a bit on a very important subject! 

Remember, if you have any questions, please let me know...I am always just a call or email away!!

Take care,

Elaine Beery

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

May Market Report

Here is the Market Report for the period ending April 2012. Prices are up and inventory continues to fall.

For a more thorough understanding of how the market is shifting and how this affects you, please give me a call and we can talk about it.

(click image to enlarge)

For the full Market Report, click HERE

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Three Nonprofits Join to Transform Vacant REOs into Future Residences

Here is great news for the communities that have homes that are in disrepair.  Three nonprofits are working together toward an effort to rehabilitate vacant REO properties and support home ownership. Rebuilding Together, NeighborWorks America, and the National Community Stabilization Trust are committing to a three-year partnership to turn vacant and dilapidated properties into affordable homes in the communities they serve.

They will be gathering data, training and educating in the first phase, the second phase will be acquiring properties and rehabilitating them, then will come the listing and selling of these properties...all in a 3 year time span.

The non-profits will have different ways to do this at their disposal, based on the needs of the community.

Rebuilding Together is a nonprofit working to preserve affordable home ownership and revitalize neighborhoods by providing extensive rehabilitation and modification services to those in need at no cost to those served.
NeighborWorksAmerica creates opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing.
The National Community Stabilization Trust is a nonprofit organization that was created to help revitalize neighborhoods affected by the foreclosure crisis. Formed in 2008, Stabilization Trust builds the capacity of state and local governments, and community-based housing organizations to acquire, manage, rehab, and sell foreclosed properties.

 For more of the story please click;

To find a home in Arizona;

Information to sell a home in Arizona

Monday, April 23, 2012

April Market Report

Here is the Market Report for the period ending March 2012. Prices are up and inventory continues to fall.

For a more thorough understanding of how the market is shifting and how this affects you, please give me a call and we can talk about it.
For the full report, click HERE!

Friday, April 13, 2012

April 2012 Newsletter

Smaller homes, urban lifestyles attractive to new homebuyers
Smaller homes closer to urban areas may be the next wave of new construction, as post-bubble buyers seek smaller mortgage payments and shortened commutes.

To read more, click HERE

Buying cheaper than renting in nearly 100 major U.S. markets: Trulia
By Justin T. Hilley
Buying is more affordable than renting in 98 out of the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas — even in New York, Los Angeles and Boston, according to real estate company Trulia's rent vs. buy index.

To read more, click HERE

To read the entire Newsletter, click HERE!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March Market Report

Here is the Market Report for the period ending February 2012. The Market has, and continues to shift, yet again. You can see this by the Distressed Property comparison below, and by the other statistics that are presented in this report.

For a more thorough understanding of how the market is shifting, and how this affects you, please give me a call and we can talk about it.

Distressed Sales Analysis:

This month I am including 2 Distressed Property charts. We include one every month, but I wanted to provide a comparison of our current distressed property status, with where we were a year ago.

What a huge shift we have seen in the market over the past year. Foreclosures have dropped from 47% of the Sales to 23%, and Traditional Sales (non-distressed) have gone from just 32% of the Market to 49%.

As we get further on in this report, you will see how this dramatic shift has affected all segments of the market, including price, and listings.
To view entire report, click HERE

Thursday, March 8, 2012

March Newsletter

Signs of upturn in Phoenix's long-suffering housing market
By Julie Schmit, USA TODAY

The Phoenix housing market is showing signs of improvement, even generating bidding wars among buyers for lower-priced homes.

To read more, click HERE
Home Repair: Which Jobs Come First?

By Josh Garskof

Lean times call for budgetary triage. But while you should clearly opt for orthodontics before Disneyland, the choice is tougher when it comes to home maintenance.

To read more, click HERE

To view entire Newsletter, click HERE.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Are you Qualified for Cancellation of Debt Forgiveness by the end of this Year

Here are 10 things the Internal Revenue Service says you should know about mortgage debt forgiveness:

1. Normally, when a lender forgives a debt -- that is, relieves the borrower from having to pay it back -- the amount of the debt is taxable income to the borrower. Thus, a homeowner who had $100,000 in mortgage debt forgiven through a short sale would have to pay income tax on that $100,000, as an example.Fortunately, under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, you may be able to exclude from your taxable income up to $2 million of debt forgiven on your principal residence from 2007 through 2012. This means you don't have to pay income tax on the forgiven debt.

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

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

4. To qualify, the debt must have been used to buy, build or substantially improve your principal residence and be secured by that residence.

5. The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act applies to home improvement mortgages you take out to substantially improve your principal residence -- that is, they also qualify for the exclusion.

6. Second or third mortgages you used for purposes other than home improvement -- for example, to pay off credit card debt -- do not qualify for the exclusion.

7. If you qualify, claim the special exclusion by filling out Form 982: Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness, and attach it to your federal income tax return for the tax year in which the debt was forgiven.

8. Debt forgiven on second homes, rental property, business property, credit cards or car loans does not qualify for the tax-relief provision. In some cases, however, other tax-relief provisions -- such as bankruptcy -- may be applicable. IRS Form 982 provides more details about these provisions.

9. If your debt is reduced or eliminated, you normally will receive a year-end statement, Form 1099-C: Cancellation of Debt, from your lender. By law, this form must show the amount of debt forgiven and the fair market value of any property foreclosed.

10. Examine the Form 1099-C carefully. Notify the lender immediately if any of the information shown is incorrect. You should pay particular attention to the amount of debt forgiven in Box 2 as well as the value listed for your home in Box 7.

The IRS has created a highly useful Interactive Tax Assistant on its website that you can use to determine if your canceled debt is taxable. The tax assistant tool takes you through a series of questions and provides you with responses to tax law questions.

For more information about the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, see IRS Publication 4681: Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions and Abandonments. You can get it from the IRS website

Stephen Fishman is a tax expert, attorney and author who has published 18 books, including "Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Contractors, Freelancers and Consultants," "Deduct It," "Working as an Independent Contractor," and "Working with Independent Contractors." 

Monday, February 27, 2012

February Market Report

Here is the Market Report for the end of January, 2012. January was a very interesting month as you will see in the following charts and dialogue.

Besides the distressed property analysis that we always talk about, the report centers on the Average Sales Price of homes, New Listings entering the market, and the total number of Active Listings on the market. We are going to talk about how these three metrics are changing, how they inter-relate, and what to be on the lookout for.

The average sales price for January is the highest we have seen since August. This reflects an ongoing significant decrease in the number of homes on the market →fewer homes to choose from →more competition for those homes →higher prices.

At the same time that prices are rising due to decreasing inventory, January marked the highest number of new listings to the hit the market since August. It will be interesting to watch how these somewhat conflicting metrics resolve themselves.

Finally, I included a chart that shows overall inventory – not just new listings – to show you the steady decline of available homes on the market.

Distressed Sales Analysis:

A bank owned/foreclosure home is one that the seller no longer owns – it has been taken over by the lender(s) who had a note on the home. Short sales are homes where the seller is negotiating with the bank to “forgive” a portion of the debt in order to avoid foreclosure.

January statistics saw the number of bank owned/foreclosure sales DECREASE by 15.9%, short sales decrease by 22.7%, and traditional sales drop by 17% over December; however, the overall comparative percentages remained the same, with foreclosures moving up to 28.4%, short sales dropping to 29.4%, and non-distressed sales moving up to 42.1% of all sales in January.

This statistic means that the competition from foreclosure properties decreased while traditional sales from sellers with equity increased.

Sellers and buyers need to monitor this trend to see how the market continues to respond to the current inventory.

Click HERE to view report in its entirety.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Freddie Mac not pursuing a deficiency judgment against borrowers

Here is some good news;
The secondary mortage market company Freddie Mac has updated its bulletin to servicers of Freddie Mac mortgage loans to make clear that they aren’t to pursue a deficiency judgment against a borrower after a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure if the transaction was processed in accordance with Freddie Mac’s guidelines.
In a deficiency judgment, a lender goes after the borrower to collect the amount of loan that was “shorted” in a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, even after the lender approved the short-pay agreement. State laws apply differently to the practice, but in some states a lender can go after a borrower several years after a transaction closes–sometimes to the surprise of the borrower.
The new language, says the company, reinforces “the requirement that the Servicer, for itself and on behalf of Freddie Mac, must waive all rights to seek deficiencies for short payoffs and deed-in-lieu of foreclosure transactions on Freddie Mac Mortgages that have closed in accordance with the Guide.”
You can find the updated language in Freddie Mac Bulletin 2012-5, dated February 15, 2012.
If you have any questions about the language, the company asks you to contact your Freddie Mac representative, if you have one, or call 800/FREDDIE and select “Servicing.”
To find out if your loan is a Freddie Mac loan click here;

To find out if your loan is a Fannie Mae loan click here;

Please call or email me if you have any questions!