Altadena Real Estate

New $6,500 federal tax credit for “move-up” home buyers may benefit you

The federal government recently extended and expanded the federal tax credit for home buyers. The tax credit now concludes June 30, 2010 instead of Nov. 30, 2009, and also includes existing homeowners who meet certain qualifications.


  • Current homeowners are eligible for a $6,500 federal tax credit if they have lived in their current home for a consecutive five out of the last eight years, and the adjusted household income does not exceed $125,000 for single files or $225,000 for join filers.
  • The expanded tax credit went into effect Nov. 6, the day President Obama signed the bill. Homes that close escrow between Nov. 6, 2009 and June 30, 2010 are eligible to apply for the tax credit.
  • The legislation does not require homeowners to sell their current residence; however, the new home must be the primary residence and the price of the home must not exceed the limit of $800,000. Homeowners who plan to retain their current home as a rental or second home are advised to move into the new home the day escrow closes so there is no question it was the principal residence at the time of the tax credit.
  • Almost all housing types are eligible, including new and existing single-family homes, condominiums, manufactured or mobile homes, and boats that serve as the owner’s principal residence. Second homes and investment properties are not eligible.
  • Home buyers in 2009—those who close after Nov. 6, but no later than Dec. 31, can claim the $6,500 credit on their 2009 federal tax returns, or amend their 2008 returns. Similarly, eligible buyers in 2010 will be able to file for the credit on their 2009 returns or 2010 returns. All home buyers should talk to a tax advisor regarding timing decisions.

Bottom line…if you’ve been considering a move up or down from your current residence, here is one more reason to do so. Call or email us to discuss the possibilities.

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Housing Tax Credit Questions?

Much confusion remains about the newly-revised rules for the first time home buyer tax credit.  I think this web page does a wonderful job of explaining the specifics:

Based on conversations with our clients and with other Realtors, even more confusion abounds about the rules for the newly-adopted repeat home buyer tax credit. Again, this page does a great job of laying out the facts:

One major caveat… both of these credits are only valid on homes that are in escrow by April 30, 2010.  So, don’t delay! Call us today to start looking for your new home.

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Mixed News For September ’09 Sales

The California Association of Realtors (“C.A.R.”) reported that home sales increased 2.1% in September in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home declined 7.3%.

“The market’s momentum continued in September, as many home buyers took advantage of the federal tax credit for first-time home buyers,” said C.A.R. President James Liptak. “The success of the federal tax credit is clear. Nearly 70% of first-time home buyers report that the tax credit was ‘the most important’ or a ‘very important’ factor in their decision to buy a home.”

“C.A.R. is calling for the U.S. Senate to swiftly adopt the Dodd-Lieberman-Isakson amendment, which would extend the federal tax credit through June 30, 2010, remove the first-time buyer requirement and extend the credit to all home buyers, and increase the qualifying income limits so more families are eligible for the credit.”

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 530,520 in September at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations statewide. Statewide home resale activity increased 2.1% from the revised 519,530 sales pace recorded in September 2008. Sales in September 2009 increased 0.6% compared with the previous month.

The statewide sales figure represents what the total number of homes sold during 2009 would be if sales maintained the September pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during September 2009 was $296,090, a 7.3% decrease from the revised $319,310 median for September 2008, C.A.R. reported. The September 2009 median price rose 1.1% compared with August’s $292,960 median price.

“A new milestone was reached in September, when five C.A.R. regions reported positive year-to-year increases in the median price, the first such increase since January 2008,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie-Appleton-Young. “September also marked the seventh consecutive month of month-to-month increases in the statewide median price and the first single-digit decline in the year-to-year median price since October 2007, after 22 consecutive months of double-digit decreases.”

“Efforts by the government to stimulate housing and the economy clearly are impacting the market. Sales have exceeded 500,000 homes for 13 consecutive months, and now are 33.1% higher on a year-to-date basis compared with 2008,” added Appleton-Young.

Highlights of C.A.R.’s resale housing figures for September 2009:

  • C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in September 2009 was 4.2 months, compared with 6.5 months (revised) for the same period a year ago. The index indicates the number of months needed to deplete the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.
  • Thirty-year fixed-mortgage interest rates averaged 5.06% during September 2009, compared with 6.04% in September 2008, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 4.59% in September 2009, compared with 5.14% in September 2008.
  • The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 33.6 days in September 2009, compared with 46.2 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.

Regional MLS sales and price information are contained in the tables that accompany this press release. Regional sales data are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors that can influence home sales. The MLS median price and sales data for detached homes are generated from a survey of more than 90 associations of REALTORS® throughout the state. MLS median price and sales data for condominiums are based on a survey of more than 60 associations. The median price for both detached homes and condominiums represents closed escrow sales.

In a separate report covering more localized statistics generated by C.A.R. and DataQuick Information Systems, 65 of the 406 cities and communities reporting showed an increase in their respective median home prices from a year ago. DataQuick statistics are based on county records data rather than MLS information. DataQuick Information Systems is a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates. (The lists are generated for incorporated cities with a minimum of 30 recorded sales in the month.)

  • Statewide, the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California during September 2009 were: Manhattan Beach, $1,502,000; Burlingame, $1,401,100; Saratoga, $1,297,500; Los Altos $1,275,000; Palos Verdes Estates, $1,163,500; Calabasas, $1,073,500; Newport Beach, $1,050,000; Los Gatos, $1,050,000; Santa Monica, $1,025,000; Cupertino, $950,000; and Rancho Palos Verdes, $912,500.
  • Statewide, the cities with the greatest median home price increases in September 2009 compared with the same period a year ago were: San Juan Capistrano, 40.2%; San Rafael, 30.5%; Moorpark, 29.8%; Thousand Oaks, 20.7%; Calabasas, 19.3%; Lake Forest, 17.7%; Walnut, 13.6%; El Cajon, 13.5%; Tustin, 13.1%; and Big Bear Lake, 12.1%.

State running out of $10,000 tax credits

First-time home buyers wanting to take advantage of the state’s $10,000 tax credit may have less time than originally expected.  California set aside $100 million to help home buyers purchase newly built homes, hoping to jump start the residential-construction market.  According to state officials, the tactic has worked well and is helping to entice home buyers into the market.  However, there only is approximately 20% of the program’s funding remaining.

The program launched in March, and as of June 3 nearly $24 million in tax credit certificates already had been issued, according to the state’s Franchise Tax Board, leaving nearly $76 million in credit available.  Many applications still are in the pipeline awaiting approval.  If all of the submitted applications are approved, only $17.5 million would remain in the fund.

The California state legislature is considering adding another $200 million to the program.  However, securing approval may be difficult due to the state’s estimated $24 billion budget deficit.  A bill to extend the program already has won Assembly approval and now is awaiting activity in the state Senate.

Bottom line… if you’re considering purchasing a newly-built residence, don’t delay!

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