Enjoying a Feast of Gratitude…Happy Thanksgiving!

If the line at the grocery store is any indicator, a lot of folks are going to be cooking up a storm this Thanksgiving Holiday.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it is about sharing gratitude and love.  It’s also a time when one has permission to eat to your heart’s content.  If you’re like me, all that cooking has a way of making you tired.  Not just sleepy tired, but tired of cooking.

Well,  I found this picture in my files from a Sunday Brunch that we enjoyed at a fabulous local restaurant, Restaurant Bloom.  The Quiche reminded me of pumpkin pie…and the fact that many local Grand Rapids restaurants are happy to take over the cooking when one runs out of steam.  Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

FAQ about the 2009 Homebuyer Tax Credit Extension

This morning, my inbox has received several notifications about the formal extension of the Homebuyer Tax Credit which will provide financial assistance to many New Home Buyers and Existing Homeowners who are considering the purchase of their next home.  Later in the day, a conversation with a client underscored our need to make sure that as real estate professionals, we provide accurate information from the Federal Government about this tax credit.  Here’s the question:

Question:  If an existing homeowner sells a home and qualifies to utilize the extended Tax Credit, is the date on the contract OR the settlement closing date the one which is used to determine qualifying eligibility?

I spoke with 2 mortgage officers, both of whom were not certain about the answer.  Than I visited the Federal Tax Credit information site (which has not yet been updated to reflect the news of the morning 11/06/09) and also read the FAQ from our State Association & the National Association of Realtors. Why was this necessary?  Well, the answer in part my be the result of changes which are happening very rapidly and the fact that sometimes there is a lack of clarity initially. Here’s the response from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) which was obtained from my local  and state Board.

Question: I am an existing homeowner. On October 25, 2009, I signed a contract to purchase a new home. I have lived in my current home for more than 5 consecutive years and am within the new income limits. I will go to settlement on November 20. If President Obama has signed the bill by the time I go to settlement, will I qualify for the new $6500 tax credit?

Answer: Yes. The existing homeowner credit goes into effect for purchases after the date of enactment (when the bill is signed). There is no reference to the date of contract for the new credit. The provision looks solely to the date of purchase, which is generally the date of settlement.

This is just on example of the types of questions which consumers will be asking.  Do you know where to send them to get accurate information? The Michigan Association of Realtors has been proactive in getting information out about this program. Other detailed questions about the change in the provisions for the Tax Credit can be found here.

More FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) here

Dramatic Home Sale Increase in 2009 Grand Rapids MI Housing Market Over 2008!!

iStock_000006856473XSmallGood News on the housing front & just in time for the Holidays in Grand Rapids, MI. In a market which has seen the worst of times in recent years, arecent article in the Grand Rapids Press heralding an increase of 35 PERCENT in home sales over 2008 was more than welcome…local professionals are ecstatic!

It’s been great to touch base with so many agents who tell me they are busy again. We sold most of our inventory within the last couple of months and are “re-stocking the shelves.” The ‘HOT PRICE’ range is $100,000 ~ $140,000.

This has helped to increase the average Home Sale Price to $109, 826 which was 3.2 percent higher than the same period in 2008. But…year to date, home prices are still down by 15.1% over 2008, a number which can be attributed to the on-going issues with foreclosures and short sales in the local market.

Other noteworthy improvements in the Grand Rapids, MI market include the decreased number of Short Sales and Foreclosures in September and the possibility of the extension of the Home Buyer tax credit which served to enable over 200,000 new jobs last year according to a quote by Jerry Howard, President of the National Home Builders Association in this article.

Now, all this good news does not necessarily indicate we are totally OK. There are still huge inventory of foreclosed properties which have not yet been placed on the market and joblessness continues to be a scourge on the Michigan economy.  As we near the end of the year, what happens in these two areas as well as the credit markets will send strong signals about the on-going journey of recovery.

If You’re a Homeowner…

These past several months have created some glimmers of hope.  Inventory levels have declined and housing prices have inched up.  More importantly, Sales have increased substantially. One of the critical assessments that homeowners who need to sell a home can make is the OPPORTUNITY COSTS CALCULATION.  It’s a fairly simple calculation which aids in determining how long you should hold on to your home, if this is a time to sell your home and what your carrying costs without a Sale actually are.

An Example...Calculating the OPPORTUNITY COST

For example, let’s say your home is valued at $140,000.  You’ve been in the home for less than a decade and you currently owe approximately $120,000. The OPPORTUNITY COST is determined by taking approximately 10% of your current expected Sales Price and dividing it by 12.  In this case:

140,000 X .10 = 14,000

14,000 / 12 = $1,167 = OPPORTUNITY COST per month

That number $1, 167 is approximately what it will cost you EACH MONTH if home prices DECLINE another 10% over the next 12 months. This year, home prices declined approximately 15% overall from last year, and since 2006, there has been a 30% DECLINE nationwide.  So an improvement to a decline of only 10% is not unreasonable.  You can manipulate the numbers to see a range of options, but most experts seem to think that we can expect declines within the neighborhood of 6% – 10% in home prices over the next year.

An Example…Calculating Your Specific OVER-PRICING PENALTY


For example:  $1,167 + $1,100( est. Mortgage Payment) = $2, 267 (OVER-PRICING PENALTY PER MONTH)

OR…$27,204 PER YEAR

Adding the OPPORTUNITY COST to your current mortgage payment gives you a unique perspective of what it will actually be costing you to OVER-PRICE your house in today’s market.  If you’d like a detailed report about housing & pricing in your specific Grand Rapids, MI neighborhood, please give us a call at 616-791-0511 or e-mail us at info@auduhomes.com.