Thursday, December 17, 2009

First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

If you are considering the purchase of a home, you've probably heard about the first time home buyer tax credit. Despite the program name, the tax credit is available to anyone that has not owned a home in the past 3 years, not just those buying a home for the very first time.

Also, the home must be your primary residence and you'll have to file your taxes to receive the tax credit. Many people believe that this money can be used upfront for the purchase of the home but the funds will not actually be available to you until you amend your 2008 tax return or file your 2009 tax return.

Its also important to note that you may not receive the entire $8,000 tax credit. This is because its based on the purchase price of the home. The tax credit is equal to 10% of the purchase price of your home. This means you'd have to purchase your home for $80,000 to receive the entire $8,000 tax credit. If you took advantage of the $39,000 foreclosure I posted last week then you would only receive a $3,900 credit if you paid full price for the home.

For more information on the tax credit, check out the following links.
IRS: First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit
FAQ about First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Decorations... Don't Let This Happen To YOU!

I saw this while out taking pictures yesterday. There is a right and a wrong way to do Christmas decorations and this is terribly wrong. The sad part is that they are not finished. There are more decorations on the lawn waiting to be inflated.

I can appreciate showing holiday spirit but you probably need to stop when the neighbors start complaining.

Friday, December 4, 2009

3 Bedroom, 2.5 Bath Townhome for $39,000

The housing decline has created amazing opportunities for buyers. Last month, I sold a townhome in the Avalon community in Fairburn for $47,000. That is almost $100,000 less than it originally sold for 3 years ago. It needed carpet and paint but was essentially a new townhome.

Today I learned that another townhome in the community is back on the market. It is also a 3 bedroom townhome and it is in even better condition. Its priced at $39,000. The lower price is due to it not being an end unit and not having a garage or fenced yard like the one sold last month.

Another selling point is that its a HUD property. Anyone buying a HUD home as an owner occupant (not an investor) can purchase with only a $100 down payment. This makes home ownership accessible to everyone.

If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, click here to send me an email.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

FHA Loan Guidelines May Be Changing for the Worse

There was an informative article in the Washington Post about how FHA is toughening requirements for borrowers. The assumption is that people are walking away from homes because they don't have enough skin in the game. That they were able to get into homes for very little money and it is therefore not much of a personal loss to abandon them.

While this is true for some, I don't think this applies to the majority of people. Most homeowners are emotionally attached to their houses and do not make a strategic decision to foreclose. Its usually the result of a job loss and the resulting loss of income. If loan modifications were readily available, I believe most of these people would remain in their homes.

These are the proposed changes to FHA loan guidelines:

1. Borrowers will contribute more money, possibly 5% instead of 3.5% currently required.
2. The seller contribution will be reduced from 6% to 3%.
3. The borrower's upfront and monthly mortgage insurance premiums will be increased.
4. The minimum credit score will increase.

You can read the article by clicking here.

I am admittedly biased on this topic. I think its a bad idea to make it more difficult for people to borrow money given the current economic conditions. I do, however, recognize that this may potentially be favorable to FHA and mortgage lenders in the long term if it results in fewer foreclosures.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Today is Election Day

Today is the run off election for Mayor of Atlanta. Tonight either Kasim Reed and Mary Norwood will be elected as our next mayor. If you haven't already voted, there is still time. The polls close at 7pm this evening. You can find out where to vote and what other races are on the ballot by clicking here.

Central City Condos

Today I toured Central City Condos off of Ralph McGill near Boulevard and I was pleasantly surprised. The development has spacious floor plans with numerous upgrades like granite counters, real hardwood floors, and stainless steel appliances. Central City Condos is conveniently located near the Atlanta Civic Center, Atlanta Medical Center, and the Georgia Power headquarters. It is also within walking distance of Freedom Parkway.

Click here for more information.

Spelman & Morehouse Glee Club Christmas Concert

Its the most wonderful time of the year! I love Christmas so this rings true for me. :)

If you are in the holiday spirit, be sure to check out the annual Spelman and Morehouse Glee Club Christmas Concert. Its this Friday through Sunday in the AUC. The concert is free and starts at 8pm each night. Friday and Sunday performances take place at King Chapel on Morehouse's campus while the Saturday performance will take place at Sister's Chapel on Spelman's campus.

Tip: Show up early for the concert as its usually a full house. Your best bet is to go on Friday or Sunday as King Chapel is significantly larger than Sister's Chapel.

Click here fore more information.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

The holiday season is upon us and I am so happy to share it with my friends and family. My mother surprised me this morning by getting up before 5am and going with me to Target. There were about 200 people in line when we got there so we missed out on the 32" HDTV for $264 but we found a few other deals. Remember to dress warmly and be safe as you shop for bargains.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Model Home Furniture Auction

There is a model home furniture auction tomorrow afternoon at 1pm in Acworth. Preview begins at 11am. 103 Harvest Ridge Raod Acworth, GA 30102

See you there!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Looking for a Fresh Start? has an interesting article if you are thinking of making a change. They have ranked the 20 best cities that would appeal to someone looking for a fresh start. They take into account economic growth, home affordability, and community strength.

Austin, Texas
2. Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas
3. Charlotte, North Carolina
4. Denver, Colorado
5. Columbus, Ohio (tie)
5. Indianapolis, Indiana (tie)
7. Washington, D.C.-Baltimore, Maryland
8. Atlanta, Georgia
9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
10. Houston, Texas (tie)
10. Les Vegas, Nevada (tie)
10. Seattle, Washington (tie)
13. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota (tie)
13. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina (tie)
15. San Antonio, Texas
16. Portland, Oregon
17. Cincinnati, Ohio
18. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
19. Memphis, Tennessee
20. Cleveland, Ohio

Monday, June 8, 2009

7 Reasons You Should Get Off The Fence in 2009

Every day we are bombarded with conflicting information about the economy. Stock market down then up, unemployment up then down, interest rates low but climbing higher... Its a lot to figure out. One thing is clear and its that there has never been a better time to buy a home. If you are on the fence, here are 7 reasons to make your move in 2009:
  1. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 enables first-time homebuyers to qualify for up to an $8,000 in federal tax credit for the purchase of a home.
  2. It's a buyers market! Buyers who are pre-approved have incredible negotiating power. Financing options are available for those with a steady income and good credit.
  3. The recent decline in prices has sellers pricing their homes competitively, allowing your dream home to finally be within reach.
  4. Competitive pricing also means more inventory from which to choose in a variety of locations.
  5. Interest rates are at historical lows - lower rates equal lower payments, or a larger home - you choose.
  6. Builders are offering unprecedented incentives for new homes such as flooring upgrades, new appliances, and discounted financing.
  7. Historically, homes are a solid long-term investment. For the past 40 years, real estate has delivered the most consistent positive return over any investment. When you buy a home, you are building equity and adding to your assets.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Auctions Are Back

Its been a few months but there are now two model home furniture auctions scheduled for this weekend. Read on for details:

Saturday, May 2, 2009
Warehouse Auction @ Jason Taylor Moving and Store
1445 Pilgrim Mill Road
Cumming, GA 30040

Preview Begins at 8AM
Auction Begins at 10AM

Directions: Take GA 400 North to exit 16, Pilgrim Mill Rd. Turn left on Pilgrim Mill Rd. Continue to warehouse.

Sunday, May 3, 2009
Overlook @ Hampton Station (Beazer Community)
204 Hampton Station Blvd
Canton, GA 30115

Preview Begins at 12pm
Auction Begins at 2pm

Directions: Take GA 400 North to exit 13, Bethelview Rd. Turn left onto Bethelview Rd. Drive 6.3 miles and turn left on Highway 20, Cumming Highway, and drive another 10.3 miles. The community will be on the left.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Day

Today is the day I've been putting off. I'm not sure why but for the past few years I've procrastinated when it comes to doing my taxes. I'll be at the post office this afternoon mailing my return. Next year I'll do better. I'll file early and do it electronically.

After I'm done, I'll head to either Cinnabon to get some free tax day bites or I'll go to Maggie Moe's for their e-CONE-mic stimulus package (a free scoop of ice cream today only.) Its cheesy, I know, but I'll still take the freebie. Also, Papa John's is offering a discount on pizza today as well. For the price of a large cheese pizza, you can get 3 toppings for free. Its their 1040 promotion.

If you don't think you'll be able to complete your taxes in time, be sure to file an extension today. You can get the form by clicking here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tax Deduction for New Cars

After doing a lot of research, I bought a new car this weekend. If you're looking to buy a car, you should know that you can deduct the sales tax paid on any new vehicle purchased from February 17th through the end of the year. Click here for details.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Day at the Auction

A couple of weeks ago I attended a real estate auction. This wasn't a foreclosure auction or tax sale on the courthouse steps. This was one of the many auctions that is advertised on tv or billboards throughout the city. These homes have already been foreclosed and the banks that own these properties use auctions to quickly sell their inventory.

The auction can result in a great deal for a buyer but there are a few things you should know.
  1. Inspect the home before the auction. Do your due diligence upfront because there is no negotiating on the price once you have the winning bid.
  2. Don't expect to get the property for the opening bid. Even if the area is undesireable and the starting bid is $500, you can expect the price to jump from $500 to $1,000 to $10,000 in a matter of seconds. This is because the bank that owns the property may be bidding against you because they want to obtain a certain amount for the home.
  3. Don't go it alone. If you are working with a real estate agent, you don't have to abandon them if you purchase a home at an auction. They will still receive a commission and can best advise you on the market value of the home, financing options, etc.
If you are interested in the auction, there is one this Wednesday at the Georgia International Convention by the airport. Click here for details.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Discover the Difference

Do you ever wonder why some people easily accumulate wealth while others struggle? What exactly is the difference between the two people? I've often questioned this and now I may have an answer.

Jean Chatzky is a financial expert and her new book, The Difference, is about the reasons some succeed financially while others fall short. Its available as a free download for members by following the link below.

Take advantage of this now as its only offered for a limited time.
Download The Difference for free

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Affording the essentials is essential


The Publix weekly circular has a section worth checking out. It features inexpensive grocery items that you can stock up on. For instance, you can get a loaf of bread, a bag of salad, or a chicken leg quarter (per pound) for less than a $1. Add another dollar and you can get a box of cheerios or a 4 pack of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup. Even in the current economic climate, there is no need to go hungry with deals like this.

Click here to check it out.

Thanks to Julian Price for sharing this with me!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Financial Peace

Like most people, the economy has made me more concerned about finances so I decided a couple of weeks ago to join Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. Its offered at my office and I've found it to be very enjoyable. Its about 2 hours each week. The first hour is Dave Ramsey (via DVD) speaking on different financial topics. The second hour is a group discussion about the topics and any issues we may have taking the necessary steps. There are no complex financial themes here. Mostly common sense and breaking bad habits.

Dave Ramsey has 7 Tips for Financial Peace:
  1. Save $1,000 in an emergency fund
  2. Pay off all debt with the debt snowball
  3. Save 3-6 months of living expenses in savings
  4. Invest 15% of income for retirement
  5. College funding
  6. Pay off your home early
  7. Build wealth and give
Click here for more info on Financial Peace University.