Tuesday, November 24, 2009

USA Today: Home buyer tax credits: Frequently asked questions

clipped from www.usatoday.com
If you're in the market for a home, the world is your oyster. Interest rates are at record lows. Housing prices in many parts of the country are still depressed. And you may be eligible for a generous tax break, even if the home you buy isn't your first.
On Nov. 6, President Obama signed legislation
expanding a tax credit implemented this year as part of the economic stimulus
package. What changed:

Stimulus creditExpanded credit
First-time home buyer credit$8,000$8,000
Credit for current homeowners who buy a homeNot available$6,500
Expiration of creditNov. 30April 30, 2010*
Income limits$75,000 single; $150,000 married; additional $20,000 phase-out.$125,000 single; $225,000, married; additional $20,000
Limit on cost of purchased homeNone$800,000
* = home buyer has until July
1 to close; Source: National Association of Realtors.
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On Nov. 6, President Obama signed legislation that provides a $6,500 tax credit for some current homeowners who buy another home. The law also extends the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, scheduled to expire Nov. 30, until next spring.

Judging from the mail we've received, a lot of people are interested in taking advantage of this tax break. But the expanded credit also has whipped up a lot of confusion. Here are some answers to questions from readers:

Q: How do I qualify for the $6,500 credit?

A: This credit is available for home buyers who sign a binding contract on a new or existing home by April 30, 2010, and settle by July 1 (deadlines that also apply to the first-time home buyer credit). You must have lived in your existing home for five consecutive years out of the last eight. The home you purchase must be your primary residence. However, the law doesn't require you to sell your old home, says Bob Meighan, vice president at TurboTax, the tax software provider. You can use it as a second home or a rental and still claim the credit, he says.

Q: I sold a home I had lived in for more than five years and bought a new one in August. Do I qualify for a tax credit?

A: No. For existing homeowners, the $6,500 credit is limited to homes purchased after Nov. 6.

Q: Does the home I buy have to be more expensive than the one I own now?

A: No. While the real estate industry is hopeful that homeowners will use this credit to buy a nicer place, there's no prohibition against using it to downsize, Meighan says. That makes this credit particularly useful for seniors who are interested in moving into a smaller home.

If you are planning to move up, keep in mind that you can't claim the credit if the purchase price of the home exceeds $800,000. Unlike some other tax credits, this one doesn't slowly phase out once you exceed the threshold, Meighan says. If you buy a home for more than $800,000 — and that refers to the purchase price, not the assessed value or the amount of your mortgage — you are ineligible for the credit, period.

The $800,000 cap also applies to first-time home buyers, but only those who purchase a home after Nov. 6. First-time home buyers who bought a home for more than $800,000 between Jan. 1 and Nov. 6 can still claim the credit, assuming they meet the other criteria, Meighan says.

Q: I'm an existing homeowner, and would like to build a new home. Can I claim the credit?

A: Yes, but make sure your builder is good at meeting deadlines. You can claim the credit as long as you have a binding contract in place by April 30 and close by July 1. In the case of a new home, the closing date is the day you move in, Meighan says. If your home isn't habitable by June 30, you won't be able to claim the credit, he says.

Q: I bought a home in 2008 and claimed the old $7,500 first-time home buyer's credit, which must be repaid over 15 years. Did the new law change that rule?

A: No. That credit, which was available for homes purchased between April 9, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2008, must still be repaid.

The $8,000 first-time home buyer credit, available for homes purchased after Dec. 31, 2008, doesn't have to be repaid as long as you remain in the home for at least three years. Existing homeowners who qualify for the $6,500 credit don't have to repay that money, either, as long as they meet the three-year requirement.

Q: We have a rental home and would like to sell it to our son, who has never owned a home. Would he qualify for the first-time home buyer credit?

A: No. The legislation specifically prohibits taxpayers from claiming the credit if the sale is between "related parties," Meighan says. A home sale to a parent, grandparent, child or grandchild would fall into that category.

Q: I sold my home this year and have been renting since. If I buy a new home, do I qualify for the expanded credit?

A: Yes, as long as you meet all of the other requirements, says Mel Schwarz, partner with Grant Thornton in Washington, D.C. The eight-year period used to determine eligibility ends on the day you buy your new home, he says.

Sandra Block covers personal finance for USA TODAY. Her Your Money column appears Tuesdays. Click here for an index of Your Money columns.

E-mail her at: sblock@usatoday.com.

Follow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sandyblock

Monday, November 23, 2009

Kasey and Shawn's House on Neil in Victorian Village (I sold them the house) :-)

You can click on the link to read the entire story or scroll to the bottom. They have done a great job!

Kasey and Shawn Conyers are no strangers to Victorian Village. They have lived in the neighborhood for more than ten years. They originally bought a home in the neighborhood several years ago that they fixed up and resold when they decided they wanted more space to raise their family. They love the walkability diversity of Victorian Village and ultimately decided to stay in the neighborhood. Their current beautiful home provides plenty of space for them and their two little boys and two dogs. It has 2900 square feet, four bedrooms and 3.5 baths. When they found the house, they feel in love with the architectural details, nice size of the rooms and layout of the floors.

The couple also likes to collect art. They have several paintings by their friend Shawn Savage, including ‘Monalisa’ and ‘ Split Personality.’ They have also bought some pieces at the CCAD Art Sale.

  • At Home: In Italian Village
  • Victorian Village: Successful rebirth
  • At Home in German Village
  • At Home in Woodland Park
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    The couple are only the fifth owners to live in the house. The house was lucky to survive tough times by not being divided into multiple apartments; instead a couple of families had come together at times and just shared the entire space. The last owners had done some renovating and documented everything. Which was cool to have, says Kasey, but sometimes seeing what they did - like paint beautifully dark stained trim over with white - was a little sad. They do have the original deed to their house!

    Kasey and Shawn both have backgrounds in design - she runs her own business, Bliss Wedding & Event Design, and he is an architect. They have been working on the house a little at a time. When the weather got nice after they first moved in, they painted the exterior. Shawn did most of it himself, except for the third floor turret. Inside the turret is Kasey’s home office. It is a wonderful space with four windows that fill the space with light. A great place to spur creative thinking! The room also includes Shawn’s home workspace and a play area for the boys. It is a great arrangement that allows Kasey to keep her boys at home while she works.

    Their goal for the house is to give it a ‘modern comfortable’ style while keeping and enhancing some of the character of the house. One of Shawn’s favorite moments about the house is the wonderful front door and its handle. The starburst on the porch is also a favorite. The house was covered in carpet by the last owners, so they are working to remove that and restore the wood floors. Some future projects include removing wallpaper, updating bathrooms and redoing the kitchen. Because the house had been sitting vacant for awhile before they purchased it, they also have a backyard full of work. But they plan on being there for quite awhile to raise their family so they look forward to making the house their own.

    October home sales in Central Ohio the highest since the housing boom

    I can concur. My 4th quarter is very busy. As always, click on the link to read the entire story.
    Columbus Board of Realtors
    The Voice of Real EstateTM in Central Ohio
    Demand rises and inventory declines as market nears stabilization

    Home sales in the month of Oct. were up 25.6 percent from this time last year. The 2,021 sales last month represents the highest number of listings sold in the month of October since the housing boom in 2006.

    “At a time when sales traditionally start to taper off, central Ohio home sales are increasing,” said Gary Parsons, President of the Columbus Board of REALTORS®. “We know the first time home buyer tax credit has had an impact. But, the fact that we have a solid inventory of homes available at very affordable prices and interest rates are still at record lows has also strengthened our housing market.”

    The number of homes in contract (but not yet closed) is also up. The 1,539 homes in contract is 17.2 percent higher than last year at the same time suggesting that November home sales will also be strong.
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    Friday, November 20, 2009

    Ohio Foreclosure Crisis: Delinquent loans rise to record number

    Problem expected to get worse in 2010
    Friday, November 20, 2009 3:11 AM
    By Jim Weiker
    clipped from www.dispatch.com
    New evidence suggests that the foreclosure crisis is likely to get worse before it gets better.
    A report, issued yesterday by the Mortgage Bankers Association, found that loan delinquencies rose to record levels in the third quarter of this year. At the end of the quarter, 14.4 percent of loans were delinquent or in foreclosure, the highest rate the association has seen since it began its surveys in 1972.
    In Ohio, 15.3 percent of loans were past due or in foreclosure -- 226,000 of the state's 1.48 million residential mortgages.
    While the number of loans in foreclosure increased only slightly in Ohio from the previous quarter, those at least 90 days' delinquent rose sharply, from 3.75 percent to 4.44 percent. That suggests foreclosures will rise next year as banks move to repossess those properties.
    The number of seriously delinquent or foreclosed loans in Ohio has risen about 1 percent each of the past three quarters.
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    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    Wee bit of pee in OSU Miror Lake after 'jump'

    Click on the link for the entire article.
    clipped from www.dispatch.com

    During the big Michigan Week jump, Ohio State University's Mirror Lake and a baby pool have a
    lot in common.

    <p>Ammonia levels in Mirror Lake shot up after last year's jump. This one was in 2006. One researcher advised, " />

    Ammonia levels in Mirror Lake shot up after last year's jump. This one was in 2006. One researcher advised, "Don't open your mouth."

    The jump, which will take place tonight, is one of many student traditions. But Ohio State also
    is a research university, so it was inevitable that someone would apply a little science to this

    Last year, students in the College of Earth Sciences tested the water in Mirror Lake before,
    during and after thousands plunged in to psych themselves up for
    The Game.

    "Interesting results from last year's study include a lake-wide temperature increase of
    approximately 3 degrees Fahrenheit during the course of the night and an ammonia spike around 1 in
    the morning," said Steve Goldsmith, a postdoctoral research associate.


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    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    New Hotel Planned Just South of the Short North on North High

    Click on the Dispatch link to see the entire article.
    clipped from www.dispatch.com
    The planned $140 million Hilton-Columbus Downtown convention hotel will start to
    rise above N. High Street next August, a project team told Franklin County commissioners this
    "Another great project for Downtown," Commissioner John O'Grady said after seeing architectural
    drawings of the hotel, which include a towering glass atrium.
    The new hotel, to open in fall 2012, will have 10 levels but appear to rise about 13 stories
    given several taller floors.
    "It's got a new urbanism feel," Commissioner Paula Brooks said.
    Artists renderings of the planned hotel.  Click on the image to view it larger.
    Artists renderings of the planned hotel. Click on the image to view it larger.
    Commissioners have pledged $8 million for the project. That money will go into a
    county-controlled contingency fund, which will be used only if the hotel fails and rooms aren't
    The development team is briefing community leaders today about the project.
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    Sunday, November 15, 2009

    Realtor group says home prices to rise 4% in 2010

    Click on the USA Today link to read more.

    A federal tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time homebuyers has helped stoke sales this year. The incentive was set to expire at the end of this month, but the NAR and other housing groups successfully lobbied to get the credit extended.

    Now buyers can claim the credit if they sign a contract by April 30 and close the deal by the end of June. Lawmakers also expanded the program to include a $6,500 credit for existing homeowners who have lived in their current residence for at least five years.
    clipped from www.usatoday.com
    SAN DIEGO — Home prices are expected to grow modestly next year and sales will keep rising as the housing market continues to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression, the National Association of Realtors said Friday.
    Home resales are projected to total 5.7 million next year, up from an estimated 5 million this year. Prices will climb about 4% after a projected decline of 13% this year, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the trade association.

    "Going into 2010, I anticipate that prices will also begin stabilizing or begin to modestly improve," Yun told the audience at the association's annual conference and expo in San Diego.

    That should help ease buyers' anxiety. "I don't think the fear factor will be at play in 2010," Yun said.

    First-time buyers accounted for a record 47% of home sales this year, up from 41% last year, the trade group said.

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    New mural in the Short North on the wall of Magnolia Thunderpussy

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    Old Oaks neighborhood near Downtown Columbus enjoys a bit of a revival

    Click on the link to read the entire article.
    clipped from www.dispatch.com
    Small, close-knit and architecturally rich, the neighborhood is a pocket of stability in an area that's struggling

    The Old Oaks neighborhood was one of Columbus' first streetcar suburbs a century ago.
    The area was platted in 1892, when an electric streetcar line was built along Livingston Avenue,
    said Doug Motz, a longtime neighborhood leader who lives on Oakwood Avenue.
    Before that, horses pulled trolleys along the street.
    <p>Chris Wright, a restoration specialist with One Red Slate, works on restoring a roof in Old Oaks that was damaged by Hurricane Ike last year.</p>
    The streetcars are long gone, and the neighborhood has had its share of ups and downs over the
    years, but today it's enjoying a bit of a rebirth.
    For instance, neighbors gather on porches every Wednesday during the summer to catch up. And
    they sponsor an annual holiday homes tour in December and are planning a memorial for Ohio State
    football legend Chic Harley, who grew up on Champion Avenue.
    The weekly porch chats are popular.
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    Real Living, the Nation's First Consumer Lifestyle Real Estate Brand Is About To Get Bigger....Much Bigger!



    GMAC Real Estate to be Re-Branded ‘Real Living’ as Brookfield Continues Expansion and Ongoing Commitment to the Industry by Acquiring Real Living Network Services

    Oak Brook, Ill. and Columbus, Ohio (November 11, 2009) – Real Living Network Services, a subsidiary of Real Living, Inc. (http://www.realliving.com), the real estate industry’s first consumer lifestyle brand franchisor, and GMAC Real Estate (http://www.gmacrealestate.com) today announced they are merging to become one of America’s leading residential real estate franchises with more than $20 billion in annual home sales.

    Locally, Real Living HER (central Ohio market) and Real Living Realty Services (Dayton, Cincinnati and Louisville) will continue to be independently owned and operated franchisees. Chris Derrow, who was executive vice president of Real Living will become president of the holding company that has ownership interests in Real Living HER and Real Living Realty Services as well as Real Living Title, Real Living Mortgage and Real Living HomeGard (warranty). Clyde Corle, president of Real Living Realty Services and Pat Law will continue their leadership of Realty Services. RLHER and RLRS will remain, as they are today, franchisees of the new Real Living real estate franchisors.

    “I eagerly anticipate working with an expanded network of real estate professionals, enhanced technology platforms, and a thriving relocation program,” said Chris Derrow. “This merger for Real Living Network Services will further strengthen our award-winning franchises—providing new opportunities for our real estate agents and an enhanced consumer experience.”

    The move was set in motion late last year when Brookfield Residential Property Services (Brookfield RPS), a division of Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (Brookfield), acquired GMAC Real Estate. Earlier this month, Brookfield RPS acquired Real Living Network Services, a subsidiary of Real Living Inc., and as a result will now rebrand GMAC Real Estate as Real Living.

    Columbus, Ohio-based Real Living is a national award-winning brand known for its innovation, customer service and track record of attracting results-driven brokers and sales professionals, along with a culture of partnership and collaboration within its network.

    “In Real Living, we found the ideal partner and brand for what we are hoping to accomplish with our real estate operations, which we are committed to building even further,” said Graham Badun, Managing Partner & CEO of Brookfield Residential Property Services. “We explored a number of options, including creating an entirely new brand from the ground up, but our customer feedback and research kept leading us back to Real Living. Both companies share many of the same core values and combined will be part of a bigger, stronger network of brokers and sales professionals.”

    Badun added, “We are thrilled to have Real Living as our flagship U.S. real estate brand, and welcome Real Living’s 2,000 brokers and sales associates into Brookfield RPS’ North American real estate network of almost 30,000 real estate professionals. We look forward to further expanding the size of our network by adding new franchisees that are truly looking for something fresh and different, and we are excited about the opportunity to take the brand to new markets internationally. Adopting and expanding an already established and respected brand will benefit the entire GMAC Real Estate network of brokers and sales professionals from day one,” he said.

    Badun also announced the appointment of Real Living’s Harley E. Rouda, Jr., a longtime real estate industry broker, owner, operator and franchisor, as President of the newly combined operations.

    Real Living was founded in 2002 and the company has grown to become one of the nation’s premier real estate companies and brands. Its technology platform has been recognized by Inman News as one of the best in the industry, the company has been named “Most Promising New National Brand” by the Swanepoel TRENDS Report, and Entrepreneur Magazine listed Real Living as one of the Top 50 New Franchises.

    “We brought a truly fresh approach to the industry earlier this decade when we launched Real Living as the first-ever consumer lifestyle real estate brand, and we will continue to do so by bringing new programs, services, support, training and technology, to our brokers and sales professionals,” Rouda, Jr. said.

    “There is an incredible need for a broker and agent-centric brand that is consumer-focused, yet managed by an experienced team that understands real estate. Combined, Real Living and GMAC Real Estate have that team as well as a truly differentiated brand,” he said.

    Brokers and sales professionals looking for more information on the launch and rollout of the Real Living brand can view RealLiving.com for more about the announcement. Company executives will also be available at this week’s annual NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Diego.

    About Real Living
    Real Living is a full-service real estate company with a comprehensive and integrated suite of resources and services for franchisees, sales professionals, and consumers. Real Living was named one of the best new franchisors by Entrepreneur magazine. The firm also won the Inman Innovator Award and was named the most promising new national brand by the Swanepoel TRENDS Report. For more information, visit http://www.realliving.com

    About GMAC Real Estate
    GMAC Real Estate is one of the industry’s leading real estate firms with offices throughout the United States, Canada and Portugal. The company’s unique service delivery model, Premier Service®, has earned it a national Customer Satisfaction Rating of 95% since its inception in 2002 – the best in the industry. For more information, visit http://www.gmacrealestate.com

    About Brookfield Residential Property Services
    Brookfield Residential Property Services is a division of Brookfield Asset Management Inc., a global asset manager focused on property, power and infrastructure assets. Brookfield has approximately USD $90 billion of assets under management and is co-listed on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchanges under the symbol BAM and on NYSE Euronext under the symbol BAMA. Brookfield Residential Property Services was named in the 2009 Swanepoel TRENDS Report as the number one real estate trendsetter in 2008. For more information, visit http://www.brookfieldrps.com

    # # #

    For more information please contact:
    Caitlin Murray
    Real Living, Inc.
    (614) 273-8573
    mailto: Caitlin.Murray@RealLiving.com

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    French Wine & Artisan Cheese Shop Opening Soon in the Short North

    When the Ohio Art League moved out of their Short North gallery location in September, it didn’t take long for the windows to get papered up and a mysterious new “Coming Soon…” sign to appear. The new store may not have a name just yet, but entrepreneur Yusef Riazi is already working around the clock at filling his new venue with character. His focus for the shop is on French wines and artisan cheeses, but will also showcase a variety of fresh local breads, cured meats, soups, sandwiches, salads, and more.
    “My passion is French wine,” explained Yusef. “Nobody in Columbus has really touched upon the French village wine market. I also plan on featuring artisan cheeses, and I have a wonderful baker who uses seasonal, local, product-driven ingredients in his breads. The charcuterie is another big part of this… cured and dried meats are also something just barely touched on in Columbus.”
    This former art gallery at 954 North High Street is roughly 900 square feet
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