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2014 brings optimism about the real estate market

Consumers Optimistic About 2014 Real Estate Market, More Committed to Buying or Selling This Year

78% of consumers surveyed are optimistic about the Real Estate market in 2014 according to Prudential Real Estate’s Q4 Consumer Outlook Survey. That’s a 5 point increase from the previous quarter and a 15 point jump from just one year ago.

“Consumers understand that the U.S. economy and residential real estate continue moving in positive directions,” said Earl Lee, CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. “Accordingly, they’re feeling much better about their personal situations and want to take advantage of attractive home prices in many markets and interest rates that remain low by historical standards.”

Normalcy Returning

Lee says normalcy is returning to the market. People are looking to buy for the right reasons… “to gain shelter and security, raise a family and generate long-term wealth.”

See the inforgraphic illustrating the survey findings below and read the full press release here http://bit.ly/1kNYxZH

Things are looking up. 2014 brings optimism about the real estate market.

No More Robocalls?

More than 1 million complaints in 2013

Since 2009 automated telemarketing calls also knows as robocalls have been illegal in the US except for charities, political organizations, schools, and medical professionals.  Last year alone the FTC received more than 1 million complaints but many times these calls originate overseas and are beyond the reach of federal regulators.

FTC challenge yields solutions

In April of 2013 the FTC announced its Robocall Challenge winners.  Two tied for the top spot and shared the $50,000 prize.  One of the winners, Nomorobo is already on the market… and it is completely free. At this time not all carriers support the “simultaneous ring” technology Nomorobo uses. I was able to sign up using my Verizon FIOS lines in just a few minutes.

To see if you are eligible visit NOMOROBO.com.



Overlooked Property Tax Discounts for Senior Homeowners

Property tax discounts for senior homeowners (and more)

If the government offered to lower your tax rate would you accept the offer?  Would you be surprised to know that many seniors, you, your parents or grandparents are paying more property tax than they need to simply because they are unaware of property tax credit programs they may be eligible for.  For many seniors (and low income homeowners) the savings could amount to thousands of dollars annually.  We work with senior homeowners and home buyers on a daily basis and estimate that fewer than 10% of those that are eligible are receiving or have even applied for the credit.

How it works in Maryland

In Maryland for example the 2013 Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit Program offers all Maryland homeowners credits against their property tax bill if the taxes exceed a fixed percentage of a persons gross income.   The program has been around since 1975 and while there is no age restriction on the program it is of particular benefit to senior homeowners who have seen property taxes rise while income remains fixed.  Eligibility is based on four basic requirements:

  1. You must own or have legal interest in the property (ie: you can’t be a renter).
  2. The home you are seeking a tax credit for must be your primary residence at least six months of the year.
  3. Your net worth, NOT including the value of the property OR any qualified retirement accounts must be less than $200,000
  4. Your combined gross household income cannot exceed $60,000

There are some other restrictions and it is important to note that there is no automatic granting of the credit.  Homeowners MUST apply each year by September 1, but should submit applications on or before May 1 to receive credits due before tax bills are issued in July.

More information on the Maryland Program

More information including a chart showing how the credits are figured and an application is available on the Homeowner Tax Credit page of the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) web site.  The current year application is available for download here.

What about in other states?

We are using the Maryland tax credit program as an example here but most states, county and/or local governments have similar programs.  For more information on programs in other locations, try a web search or contact your local tax authority.

July Case-Shiller Home Price Index

Home prices in the Case-Shiller 20-City Composite increased 1.6% from June to July. This is the third consecutive month that all 20 cities recorded increases. Year-over-year the 20-city composite index is up 1.2% and 16 of the 20 cities have seen yearly increases.

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices are published on the last Tuesday of each month at 9:00 am ET. They are constructed to accurately track the price path of typical single-family homes located in each metropolitan area provided.

August Existing Home Sales are Highest Since The Tax Credit Expired in 2010

Existing home sales for August increased 7.8% to 4.82 million homes. This is up from 4.47 million homes in July. This represents the most homes sold since the homebuyer tax credit expired in 2010.

Existing Home Sales is a measure of the selling rate of pre-owned single-family homes, collected by the National Association of Realtors from 650 realtor associations. The data is timely and is used in conjunction with the new home sales release from the Census Bureau. Sales of existing (or pre-owned) houses account for roughly 84% of all houses sold. Sales of new houses account for the other 16%. Simply, the volume of sales indicates housing demand.

Existing Home Sales April - Aug 2012

Existing Home Sales April – Aug 2012

Maryland Homestead Tax Credit Application Deadline Approaching

Attention Maryland homeowners, you will lose your Homestead Property Tax Credit if you don’t reapply and that could cost you big. Even if you have received the tax credit for years, a 2007 law requires all homeowners to submit a one time application to establish eligibility for the credit.  Your credit will expire if you don’t renew by years end.  Maryland SDAT reports more than 100,000 Maryland homeowners that still have not replied to notices and reminders.

The Homestead Tax Credit is not mean guaranteed savings for everyone but it does put a cap on the amount your property taxes can increase annually on owner occupied residential property.  Homeowners who do not apply by year’s end will lose eligibility for the credit and will be stuck with a full value tax bill for 2013 even if you reapply for the following year.

You can find out if you have already filed your application by looking up your property here: http://sdatcert3.resiusa.org/rp_rewrite/  Enter your county, click on the Street link then enter your street number and street name.  You do not need to enter street type (street, avenue, lane, etc).  Once you find your property, scroll to the bottom of the page to see the status of your Homestead Application.  If it says “approved” with a date you are good to go.

If you still need to file, you can request the state to email a Homestead application to you with an access number to file electronically by sending an email request to hcredit@dat.state.md.us.

More information from the Maryland State Department of Assessments & Taxation is available here: http://www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/homestead.html

Mortgage Market Guide – Labor Day Week

Mortgage Market Guide

This week’s Mortgage Market Guide has been posted and can be viewed here:


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