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Housing Trends In The Philadelphia Region

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

Good morning, everyone! At one of our recent Savvy Home Seller Seminars, we went in-depth talking about the real estate trends in the surrounding area.

Many times people generalize the housing market, and figure that all areas are similar. With data from last quarter supplied by the local multiple listing service, we were able to discuss how each of the area's geographical pockets are fairing. For example, how does zip code 19001 compare to zip code 19046 in average sales price, days on market, percent of offer price to asking price, etc.

If you would be interested in getting this information sent to you like our seminar graduates, just shoot us a quick email at dianeandteam@consultantsforlife.com. Make sure to include your name, address, phone number and email!

Progress Being Made In Tax Credit Extension

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team
Homebuyer Tax Credit Would Expand to Owners Under Senate Plan

By Dawn Kopecki and Brian Faler

Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) -- The $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers would be extended and some people who already own residences could claim a benefit under a proposal by Senate Democrats.

An agreement reached yesterday by the Democrats would let homeowners who buy a new home qualify for a $6,500 credit if they have lived in their prior residence for five years, according to Regan Lachapelle, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“The compromise we have now would expand the credit beyond first-time homebuyers,” Lachapelle said. Lawmakers expect to consider the measure as part of a bill to extend unemployment benefits, she said. That measure has been held up by a disagreement with Republicans over other proposed amendments.

Lawmakers have said they want to keep home sales from slipping as the economy struggles to recover from the worst drop in home prices since the Great Depression. The plan would extend the homebuyers credit, due to expire Nov. 30, to home purchases under contract by April 30, 2010, with borrowers allowed another 60 days to close the sale, according to a person familiar with the details of the agreement.

The credit would be available to individuals earning up to $125,000, or $250,000 for couples, up from $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples under the current law, Lachapelle said.

Operating Losses

The amendment on the homebuyers credit is being packaged with a separate proposal to extend and expand a tax break for companies with net operating losses.

Any legislation would have to be reconciled with a House unemployment measure approved last month that omits the homebuyer tax provisions and extends jobless benefits only in states with the highest unemployment rates.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, is waiting to see the final Senate agreement before deciding whether to support it, said spokesman Nadeam Elshami.

More than 1.2 million borrowers through Oct. 9 have claimed almost $8.5 billion of the $13.6 billion set aside for “first- time” homebuyer tax credits this year, according to U.S. Treasury data.

Realtors and mortgage bankers said the credits, which are available for taxpayers who haven’t owned a home in the past three years, have helped stabilize housing sales this year.

“Already we’ve seen the impact of this credit in jump- starting the housing sector,” Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, said on the Senate floor. He said it would be a “great mistake” to allow the break to lapse. Dodd estimated that more than 70 percent of current homebuyers would be eligible for the break.

Reid Cites Support

While the tax credit speeds demand for homes from next year to this year, it won’t necessarily increase overall sales, said Scott Buchta, head of investment strategy at Guggenheim Securities LLC in Chicago.

“They do need to expand the credit to get more people involved, but at the end of the day you are paying people tax dollars to do what they probably would have done anyway,” Buchta said. “If it is passed, home sales of lower-priced homes should continue to hold their ground. However, if it is not passed we will probably see home sales slow down as we wait for natural demand to build up again.”

Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said on the Senate floor yesterday that there is significant support among both parties for the homebuyers’ tax credit. He said the other amendments sought by Republicans are unrelated to the unemployment bill and are designed to embarrass his colleagues.

Republicans want to vote on amendments on immigration and to bar funding for the community activist group ACORN.

Not Far From Agreement

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, agreed that most lawmakers support the unemployment and homebuyer measures. “We’re not that far away from an agreement,” he said yesterday.

The $2.4 billion unemployment measure would extend jobless benefits by 14 weeks in all states and provide an additional six weeks of benefits in states with the highest unemployment rates.

About 1.9 million Americans will exhaust their unemployment benefits by the end of this year unless Congress acts, the Labor Department said.

Taken from: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aoI9KTlHpwzI

Prevent Rainwater Penetration In Your Home

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

With all the rain today, I thought this article would be helpful...

Drainage is an efficient way to control rain water penetration through foundation walls and to prevent moisture and condensation problems in basements.

Gutters and downspouts

To solve moisture and water problems in basements, before waterproofing any walls or applying any insulation, you should install drain footings around the house and study the gutters and downspouts.

Make sure that roof gutters (on your house's eaves) and the downspouts are working properly. They should be well cleared and opened: otherwise, rain water would sit on the roof and run down the walls damaging the building and its foundations.

If possible and practical, add extenders (minimum 4 ft) and splash-blocks to drive the water away from the bottom of the residence.

Drainage control

Water drainage control can be achieved through...

- sloped roofs
- large overhangs and gutters
- sloped grounds
- curtain drains, dry-wells, grass (instead of flower beds or trees)

Creating an under-ground drainage system, involving the foundations and the footing of the house is also important in rainy and snowy climates.

A Sloped Roof

Sloped roofs are particularly advantageous to prevent moisture and its damages; flat roofs are bad options for controlling surface rain water drainage.

Large overhangs and gutters

Gutters and overhangs (3 feet overhangs aren't too much) drive rain and snow water away, avoiding accumulation of water and moisture around the bottom of the walls.

Sloped ground

The ground next to home should slope away from the walls on all sides of the foundations, for at least 10 feet. Concrete walkways, patios or driveways that slope toward the house should be rectified.

Driving the rain and snow water away, as quickly as possible, is crucial for a good surface drainage.

The sloped ground may involve a impervious clay layer and a concrete sidewalk, as shown in the image (source: University of Minnesota, Extension).

Creating an underground drainage system

Above-grade surface drainage is important to prevent moisture and water infiltration in basements, but it may be insufficient, mainly in rainy climates. In many cases it's also necessary to install an under-ground drainage system, which requires digging up the area around the foundation.

This under-ground drainage system is usually a combination of a gravel drainage layer with a drain tile (pipe) or perforated PVC pipe. Drain tile is usually placed on top of the footing. A minimum of 12 inches of cleaned gravel, crushed gravel, or crushed rock is placed around the drain tile, and close to the walls. Gravel is very important, and cheap, and will avoid many problems.

Other measures to avoid moisture in the foundation

Home perimeter

Flower beds, bushes or trees shouldn't be planted close to walls and foundations, and the water from sprinklers shouldn't touch the walls.

Curtain drains

You may dig a trench alongside the house - about 1-foot deep - and fill it with gravel and a perforated PVC pipe. The goal is to drive the surface water away.

Use dry wells to receive run-off

A dry-well is an underground structure that can receive the flow of water from rain, snow melt or other sources, dissipating it into the ground... This structure should be placed at least 12 feet from the house, and can involve a tank or a deep hole filled with gravel covered with landscape fabrics.

Creating a sump and installing a sump-pump

Sumps and sump-pumps relieve excessive water pressure in the bottom of the house foundation, and are relatively cheap to create and install. Combined with other measures, they may help solving the problem of damp basements.

Taken from: http://www.house-energy.com/Basements/Drainage.htm

Importance Of Cleaning Gutters

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

 

Cleaning Gutters - Why It Is So Important To Prevent Clogged Rain

Gutters?

With fall fast approaching it is time for the leaves to begin turning with all of their vibrant colors and beauty. But one thing isn't so beautiful and that is a clogged gutter system caused by falling leaves. Not only is it a pain to clean out, but the long term damage a clogged rain gutter can create is substantial. So, why is gutter cleaning so important and just what is the damage it can cause if neglected? Here is a quick look.

The main reason for cleaning gutters and making sure they allow rainwater to flow smoothly to the ground and away from your foundation is due to the damage that can occur to your home over time. This damage can include:

Foundation problems - Continued water leakage down the side of your home into your foundation will create cracks in the walls and leaks as well. In climates where the ground freezes and then expands constantly the problem can be even worse.

Mold problems - Mold is a huge issue today and this is yet another problem that clogged gutters can pose.

Siding problems - Water can cause wood siding to bow or become moldy over time.

In addition, excessive water can damage sidewalks, driveways, interior floors and in extreme cases it could even destroy the home.

What is causing water to overflow your rain gutter?

If you notice water spilling over the back of your rain gutter then it can be from debris in the gutter, or it could be due to the gutter hanging brackets sagging on the fascia boards. You may even notice that the brackets have fallen off which is causing the water to overflow.

If you see water coming over the front of the gutter then it is usually due to clogging from leaves, sticks, pine needles, roofing materials, etc.

As you can see, cleaning gutters is vitally important to the long term health of your home. Most home experts agree that you should clean your gutters in the Spring and late fall in most parts of the country. Depending on the number of trees that surround your home it may be even 3-4 times per year. Be sure you don't neglect this important aspect and you'll eliminate future problems before they can start.

By the way, you can learn more about Cleaning Gutters as well as much more information on all types of gutters and downspouts at

 

 

http://www.GuttersA-Z.com

Article Source:

http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Terry_Edwards

Why Are Appraisals So Important?

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

It hit me the other day that some people don't realize how important a home appraisal is in the entire home selling process. This is a new world of real estate. If someone falls totally in love with your home and buys it at a 2005 price, it may seem good at first, but trouble awaits. If the appraiser can't back up that 2005 price, the mortgage company won't lend you all the money you need. Here's an interesting article about appraisals:

Why Is A Property Appraiser Important To The Home Buying Process?

It doesn't matter what part of the home buying process you are a part of - the buyer or the seller - a real estate appraiser is important to you and necessary to the home transaction. An impartial appraiser will come in and check out the home and property and come up with true value. The appraiser does this in order to protect the seller, buyer and lender, all of whom are involved in a home purchase. Here are some reasons why real estate appraisers are important.

Discovery of the True Value of a Property

A seller will naturally want to take the home and promote how much it is worth. That's because it will make for a higher selling price, which if it works out for the seller will be more than what was paid for the home. For a buyer, there is a desire for the knowledge that the price is right. And the lender wants that true value to know that the money loaned out is worth it and it is a good business move for them to fund. If a true value was to come in lower, then it might not make for a good business deal for the lender, especially if the home may not sell for a profit in the future.

With the impartiality of the appraiser, all parties can expect an honest finding of the value of the property, which is based on its neighborhood, its market, its improvements and the size of the home.

How it Works for the Buyer

If you are the prospective buyer, you will want to make sure you are getting something of real worth in your new home. With the appraisal, you get to see what that fair price is and from there you can decide if you want to spend money on it. If not, you can always reconsider what you want to pay for the property and could decide not to make the deal.

How it Works for the Seller

If you are a prospective seller, you want to discover the value of your home so you can make a fair selling price for your property when you put it out into the market. If you have a low valued home, you may change the cost of the home or make more improvements in order to increase the value.

How it Works for the Lender

As the lender, the bank is making a gamble by lending money to the prospective buyer. To the lender, determining the value of a home will enable the best possible contract with the buyer. Instead of giving money to the buyer for the price they paid, the lender knows the entire value of the home and can then assess the risk.

And that's where the role of the appraiser comes in - assuring that the property's value is right for all involved. Without the home appraiser, the true value won't be known, which impacts all of the parties who are touched.

Taken from:http://www.streetdirectory.com/

Questions To Ask An Agent Before Hiring Them

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team
10 QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE YOU HIRE AN AGENT
 
Not all real estate agents are the same.  If you decide to seek
the help of an agent when selling or buying your home, you need
some good information before you make any moves.
 
Picking an agent is one of those critical issues that can cost or
save you thousands of dollars.  There are very specific questions
you should be asking to ensure that you get the best
representation for your needs.  Some agents may prefer that you
don’t ask these questions, because the knowledge you’ll gain from
their honest answers will give you a very good idea about what
outcome you can expect from using this agent.  And let’s face
it - in real estate, as in life - not all things are created
equal.
 
Hiring a real estate agent is just like any hiring process - with
you on the boss’s side of the desk.  It’s critical that you make
the right decision about who will handle what is probably the
single largest financial investment you will ever make.
 
 
THE 10 QUESTIONS TO ASK
 
1. What makes you different?  Why should I list my home with you?
It’s a much tougher real estate market than it was a decade ago.
What unique marketing plans and programs does this agent have in
place to make sure that your home stands out favorably versus
other competing homes? What things does this agent offer you that
others don’t to help you sell your home in the least amount of
time with the least amount of hassle and for the most amount of
money?
 
2. What is your company’s track record and reputation in the
market place?
It may seem like everywhere you look, real estate agents are
boasting about being #1 for this or that, or quoting you the
number of homes they’ve sold.  If you’re like many homeowners,
you’ve probably become immune to much of this information.  After
all, you ask, "Why should I care about how many homes one agent
sold over another.  The only thing I care about is whether they
can sell my home quickly for the most amount of money."
 
Well, because you want your home sold fast and for top dollar,
you should be asking the agents you interview how many homes they
have sold.  I’m sure you will agree that success in real estate
is selling homes.  If one agent is selling a lot of homes while
another is selling only a handful, ask yourself why this might
be?  What things are these two agents doing differently?
 
You may be surprised to know that many agents sell fewer than 10
homes a year.  This volume makes it difficult for them to do full
impact marketing on your home, because they can’t raise the money
it takes to afford the advertising and special programs to give
your home a high profile. Also, at this low level, they probably
can’t afford to hire an assistant, which means that they’re
running around trying to do all the components of the job
themselves, which means service may suffer.
 
3. What are your marketing plans for my home?
How much money does this agent spend in advertising the homes
s/he lists versus the other agents you are interviewing? In what
media (newspaper, magazine, TV etc.) does this agent advertise?
What does s/he know about the effectiveness of one medium over
the other?
 
4. What has your company sold in my area?
Agents should bring you a complete listing of both their own, and
other comparable sales in your area.
 
5. Does your Broker control your advertising or do you?
If your agent is not in control of their own advertising, then
your home will be competing for advertising space not only with
this agent’s other listings, but also with the listings of every
other agent in the brokerage.
 
6. On average, when your listings sell, how close is the selling
price to the asking price?
This information is available from the Real Estate Board.  Is
this agent’s performance higher or lower than the board average?
Their performance on this measurement will help you predict how
high a price you will get for the sale of your home.
 
7. On average, how long does it take for your listings to sell?
This information is also available from the Real Estate Board.
Does this agent tend to sell faster or slower than the board
average? Their performance on this measurement will help you
predict how long your home will be on the market before it sells.
 
8. How many Buyers are you currently working with?
Obviously, the more buyers your agent is working with, the better
your chances are of selling your home quickly.  It will also
impact price because an agent with many buyers can set up an
auction-like atmosphere where many buyers bid on your home at the
same time.  Ask them to describe the system they have for
attracting buyers.
 
9. Do you have a reference list of clients I could contact?
Ask to see this list, and then proceed to spot check some of the
names.
 
10. What happens if I’m not happy with the job you are doing to
get my home sold? Can I cancel my listing contract?
Be wary of agents that lock you into a lengthy listing contract
which they can get out of (by ceasing to effectively market your
home) but you can’t. There are usually penalties and broker
protection periods which safeguard the agent’s interests, but not
yours. How confident is your agent in the service s/he will
provide you? Will s/he allow you to cancel your contract without
penalty if you’re not satisfied with the
service provided?
 
 
Evaluate each agent’s responses to these 10 questions carefully
and objectively. Who will do the best job for you? These
questions will help you decide.

Tax Credit Fraud!!!

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

Check out this interesting article about first time homebuyer tax credit fraud! The timing is not good at all, considering the government is reviewing whether or not the credit should be extended! More to come!

____

Fraud Taints First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, as Extension Gains Ground

Just as the industry steps up efforts to convince Washington to extend the $8,000 federal tax break for first-time homebuyers, news has surfaced that the housing stimulus program could be fraught with fraud.

The Internal Revenue Service says that as of August 2009, 1.4 million taxpayers had taken advantage of the $8,000 homebuyer credit. But according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, the IRS is currently investigating more than 100,000 suspicious claims, and has identified 167 “criminal schemes” involving the credit.

This morning, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) announced that the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee, which he chairs, will hold a hearing Thursday to look into accusations involving abuse of the homebuyer tax credit.

“I am concerned about recent reports that there have been fraudulent schemes involving the credit,” Lewis said. “This hearing will allow the subcommittee to hear what, if any, additional steps should be taken to allow the IRS to strike a balance between issuing timely refunds of the homebuyer tax credit and protecting federal revenue.”

Just yesterday, several leading industry organizations made another eleventh-hour plea to prolong the federal tax incentive, which is set to expire on November 30.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), National Association of Realtors (NAR), and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) joined forces and submitted a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan touting the benefits of extending the $8,000 credit for at least another 12 months.

The trade groups also appealed to the two secretaries to support opening up the credit to all homebuyers, not just first-timers; allowing the money to be put towards closing costs; and even increasing the amount of the benefit.

According to NAR, the government’s first-time homebuyer tax credit program has generated an extra 355,000 home sales above what would have occurred in the absence of a credit. NAHB estimates that additional spending by homebuyers, as well as other housing activity stimulated by the tax credit program, has produced 187,000 new jobs.

“Our fragile economy is just beginning to show signs of recovery. We should not jeopardize that recovery by letting this tax credit expire,” the trade groups wrote. “Problems in the housing industry led us into a global recession, and housing incentives can help lead us out,” they stated.

The industry’s petition seems to have fallen on sympathetic ears in the Senate. A long-time proponent of bumping up the amount of the tax credit to $15,000, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) says he has reached a compromise with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut), which would keep the amount of the credit at $8,000 but expand it to include more borrowers, the _Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday.

Isakson, who previously spend 33 years in real estate, plans to introduce an amendment to a Senate bill extending unemployment benefits that would remove the first-time buyer requirement from the $8,000 credit; extend the tax credit until June 30, 2010; and raise the income limits to $150,000 for an individual or $300,000 for a couple.

The Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated the cost of Isakson’s amendment to be $16.7 billion over five years. The price tag of the tax incentive has been a growing concern among many lawmakers and critics as the debate over an extension has intensified.

“Expanding the tax credit has a cost, and it is a significant amount of money,” Isakson testified at a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday morning. “However, it is less than 3 percent of the amount of the stimulus, and we know from what has happened in the last nine months that the homebuyer tax credit works.”

Taken from: http://www.dsnews.com/articles/fraud-taints-first-time-homebuyer-tax-credit-as-extension-gains-ground-2009-10-20

Homebuyer Tax Credit

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

Hey everyone! Just wanted you to keep your eyes and ears open! The house is voting today on whether or not to extend the first time homebuyer tax credit, among other issues. If passed, it will go on to the Senate for approval- keep you posted!

Attention Montgomery County Homeowners!

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

ATTENTION

MONTGOMERY COUNTY HOMEOWNERS!

 

Don’t Even Think Of Selling Your Home Until You Attend

The Free Savvy Home Seller Seminar

On Tuesday, October 20th or Thursday, October 22nd at 6:30pm! 

 

What You Learn At The Class Can Save You Thousands!

   

Call The Free 24 Hour Hotline for Info:

1-888-708-8084, ext.300

To Reserve Your Seats Call: 1-800-849-4133

Or go to www.SavvyHomeSellerSeminar.com

First Time Buyer Tax Credit Could Be Extended For Military

by Diane Cardano-Casacio & Her Team

Some good news for the military...

Congressman Quigley Votes to Extend First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit for Military

WASHINGTON, DC - October 14, 2009 - (RealEstateRama) — Last week, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL) voted to extend the First-Time Homebuyer tax credit for members of the Armed Services who served abroad this past year.  H.R. 3590, which extends the credit for qualifying military personnel through November 30, 2010, passed the House of Representatives overwhelmingly by a 416-16 vote. The current tax credit is set to expire on November 30, 2009.

“Our service members make tremendous sacrifices, and it simply wouldn’t be fair to deny them this opportunity because they were serving overseas while it was available,” said Quigley.  “A big part of the American Dream is to own a home, and our brave men and women in uniform deserve every option we can provide to help them achieve that dream. Extending the credit will help families build a better a future as well as improve our country’s economic health.”

The extension would be available to members of the military, as well as those in the Foreign Service and intelligence workers.  To be eligible, individuals need to have served outside the country for at least 90 days in 2009.  Those that qualify can earn up to $8,000 in tax credit.  The legislation also waives the repayment clause in the existing credit if a service member receives official orders and is forced to sell his or her house within three years of purchase.

Originally passed in February as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the First-Time Homebuyer Act increased first-time home purchases by 25 percent in 2009.  First-time homebuyers now account for 50 percent of all homebuyers in the United States.  In Illinois alone, 51,000 taxpayers took advantage of the program.

Quigley has also co-sponsored H.R. 1993, legislation that would extend the tax credit to all potential first-time homebuyers in the United States through 2010.   Congress is currently considering several proposals regarding how to extend the credit as the November 30 sunset approaches.

For more information on the tax credit, please visit http://www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com.

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Diane Cardano & Associates
CARDANO Realtors
1021 Old York Road, Suite 401
Abington PA 19001
Office: 215-576-8666
Fax: 215-576-8677