What’s Up With This $7500 Tax Credit?

Good question.  Congress has been passing laws faster than the industry knows what to do with them.  The current law, as was passed last year, gives a $7500 credit on your tax return for qualified first-time buyers who purchase a home between April 9, 2008 and July 1, 2009.  Except it isn't a credit.  It's a zero interest loan that must be repaid on your future taxes over the next 15 years.

As you can imagine, this did little to stimulate the housing market.  It doesn't increase your ability to purchase a home.  It just makes expenses easier to handle once you're there…eventually…when you get a refund…that you pay back.

The new stimulus plan that passed the house on Wednesday turns that credit into a…CREDIT!  If the bill becomes law, that $7500 would become a straight-forward credit on your 2009 returns.  It would retroactively include purchases made since January 1, 2009 and extend through either June or August (depending on the bill). 

Will this simply be a windfall for the qualified first-time buyers who were going to buy anyway?  Or will this be enough incentive to convince someone on the fence to buy?  It still won't give you $7500 to use towards your down payment.  But knowing it's there in 2010 may just be the assurance you need, that you can afford to buy in this well priced market.

2009 U.S. Pond Hockey Championships

2007_rinks

The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships return again to Lake Nokomis this weekend (January 23-25), and it sounds like an icy blast of arctic air will arrive just in time to scare away any thin skinned spectators.  The website for the event even includes safety tips for cold weather!

And remember, it was warm weather than brought the tournament to Lake Nokomis in 2007 from Lake Calhoun.  The ice just wasn't good enough after the mild winter.  We're glad to see them back here for a third year.  I bet the new Caribou will do a lot of business this weekend.  If you want to help out a local coffee shop, try crossing over the lake to Nokomis Beach Coffee.  Great coffee and locally baked pastries will surely warm you up.  Plus hot soup and sandwiches!

I’ll List Your Home For Free!

Let's save money  Will_work_for_food 

There have always been choices when it comes to hiring a real estate agent.  From do it yourself brokers that put your home on the MLS with pictures you provide for an upfront fee, to full service companies that charge up to 7% of the sale’s price.  Then within each company there are many different agents with different styles, experiences, talents, and ethics.

It’s a lot for the consumer to sift through.

I want to discuss one of the options:  Free.

There are several companies and agents who are trying out a plan where they charge no commission to list your home.  In turn you must agree to work with them on the purchase of your next home, where they will be paid a cooperating commission from the listing broker of that home.

And they do everything a full service agent does, except for open houses.  But you are free to hold your own.

Yeah, right.

Trust me.  Don’t expect them to do anything other than put your home on the MLS and put a sign in your yard.  And they may charge a fee for that much.

Here’s why I don’t like it:

1)        It’s not free.  You still have to pay the cooperating broker that represents the buyer.  That’s typically 2.7%.

2)       You’ve now entrusted what’s most likely your most valuable asset to someone who has told you that what they do is of no value.  If it was of value, they would charge you for it.  I’m willing to cut your hair for free.  Any takers?

3)       Saving $6,000 in commission and then selling your home for $10,000 less than a good full service agent could negotiate for you is hardly a deal.

4)       You have a no-value, limited-service agent on your side.  The buyer may have a full-service, full-value agent on theirs.  Good luck.

5)       The financial incentive of your agent is not connected to the price of your house.  It’s only connected to the price of the next home you buy.  Their best case is to under price your home and sell it quickly at minimal expense to them. 

And remember, I’ll LIST your home for free too.  But I will charge a commission when I SELL it.