Tuesday, March 31, 2009

IRS Provides Filing Guidance on First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit

The IRS has released additional information to help homebuyers understand the ways they can file to receive the homebuyer credit. It is important for taxpayers to know that they must complete the purchase and close or take up residence in the case of new construction in order to be eligible to file for the credit. Here are the four main options listed by the IRS: 1) File an extension; 2) File now, amend later; 3) Amend the 2008 tax return; or 4) Claim the credit in 2009 rather than 2008.
There are a number of entities working on ways to advance money to be used for down payment in anticipation of receiving the credit. NAR is working to provide guidance on these options and how they might work. However, there is no legal way to receive the credit itself from the IRS prior to closing since closing on the purchase is a prerequisite to eligibility for the credit. Click here for IRS Release outlining options in more detail.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

First-time Home Buyers Drive February Sales

First-time buyers accounted for half of all home sales last month. Read more from NAR's latest report on existing-home sales. Read more >

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Scammers Target Troubled Borrowers

Scam artists are proliferating, targeting troubled borrowers trying to take advantage of the President's foreclosure-prevention plan. Here are four tips to pass along to your customers to avoid trouble. Read more >

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

10 Priciest Cities to Own a Home

In the doom and gloom of today's economic and property market news, it's easy to loose sight of the fact that there remain the really wealthy for whom money is no object. Couple that with the softening in prices, and you have the potential for a mini boost in high-end sales. Monte Carlo is off the charts at $47,578 per sq. m. More reasonably, Moscow and London are just over $20K per sq. m. New York City is the only U.S. city on in the top ten at $14,898 per sq. m., making Mumbai a relative bargain in the #10 spot at $9,163 per sq. m. See the full list, along with additional market information.

Latin America Still Looking Strong

With much of the world in a downward spiral, Latin America remains a relatively good value. According to the Global Property Guide, many currencies within the region have partially followed the dollar down, but GDP growth has risen in select markets, and is up .1% in 2009, thus far, over 2008 for the entire 20-country region. Factors cited for the growth include globalization, which has put pressure toward adoption of sound economic policies; and retirees--many from the U.S. Get a detailed profile of the region and learn which markets are viewed as key picks.

Chinese Bargain Hunting in U.S.

Chinese people are signing up to come to the U.S. with the single aim to buy homes on the cheap. Tours are being organized by Soufun.com, one of China's largest real estate portals, for investors who want to take advantage of slumping U.S. real estate prices. But it's not cheap. Fees equal a one-year annual income for some, plus airfare, but the Chinese see this a long-term investment. Investors seek housing for young children who may wish to study in the U.S., to use while here on business trips, and/or to lease. Investors are also looking at commercial properties. Trips are being focused largely on east and west coast cities where there are large Chinese immigrant populations. Aside from bargain prices, Chinese investors are drawn to the U.S. due to limited investment options at home where real estate and stock prices peaked in Oct. '07. Economists estimate that tens of billions of dollars began leaving the country during 4Q 2008 as Chinese investors began bargain-hunting.

Albuquerque Area 2/09 Home Sales Market Report

February 2009 Monthly Sales Report

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

President's Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan

On March 4, 2009, The Obama Administration announced new U.S. Department of the Treasury guidelines to enable servicers to begin modifications of eligible mortgages under the Administration's Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan – announced by President Barack Obama on February 28, 2009. NAR has reviewed these policies and has developed a summary of the plan. You can also get more information from the brand new website set up by the Treasury Department: www.financialstability.gov.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Susan Wachter, a professor of real estate at the University of Pennsylvania, is watching the backlog of unsold homes. At January's sales pace, it would take about 9 1/2 months to rid the market of all those properties. A more normal pace would be six months.
Once foreclosures level off and the backlog is cleared, Wachter says, the housing market can begin to recover. But even with the Obama administration directing $75 billion in bailout money to stave off foreclosures, most economists don't expect home prices to bottom out before the first quarter of 2010. And don't expect an explosive rebound: Price increases will probably be modest when they come.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Meltdown 101: Will Obama's housing plan help me?

A: How do I know if I qualify for the refinancing plan?
Q: Only homeowners in good standing whose loans are held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac qualify.
The property must be owner-occupied and the borrower must have enough income to make payments on the new mortgage debt.
Borrowers can't owe more than 105 percent of their home's current value on their first mortgage. For example, if your home is worth $200,000, your first mortgage can't exceed $210,000. Borrowers with a second mortgage still can qualify as long as their first mortgage isn't more than 105 percent of their home's value.
Homeowners can't take cash out during the refinancing to pay other debt.
Borrowers have until June 2010 to apply for the program.
Q: How do I know if my mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?
A: Call your current lender or mortgage servicer. You can find the phone number on your monthly mortgage statement or coupon book.
You can also contact Fannie Mae at 1-800-7FANNIE and Freddie Mac at 1-800-FREDDIE from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. Or, go to and and fill out the online request forms.
Q: What borrowers qualify for the modification program?
A: You don't have to be behind on your mortgage payments to qualify. Delinquent borrowers and current borrowers who are at risk of imminent default are both eligible.
The program applies to mortgages made on Jan. 1 or earlier. The mortgage payment including taxes, insurance and homeowners association dues must exceed 31 percent of the borrowers' gross monthly income.
The property must be the homeowner's primary residence. It can't be investor-owned, vacant or condemned. Home loans for single-family properties that are worth more than $759,750 don't qualify.
The program is voluntary, relying on a $75 billion subsidy to encourage mortgage companies to participate. Lenders must agree to reduce the loan payments to 38 percent of a borrower's monthly income. After that, the government and lender split the cost of bringing the payment down to 31 percent.
Eligible borrowers will have to provide their most recent tax return and two pay stubs, as well as an "affidavit of financial hardship" to qualify for the loan modification program. In the affidavit, applicants will have to cite the reasons behind their financial woes, such as job loss or a drop in income. The government will then take steps to verify the information.
Borrowers are only allowed to have their loans modified once. The program runs through Dec. 31, 2012.
Q: What if I'm in bankruptcy or in active litigation over my mortgage?
A: That doesn't necessarily keep you from qualifying for the modification program. And borrowers in active litigation can modify their home loans without waiving their legal rights.
Q: What do I do to get help?
A: For the modification program, call your lender or mortgage servicer to see if you're eligible. For the refinance program, first find out if your mortgage is held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Then contact your lender, mortgage servicer or a mortgage broker for refinancing options.
Q: How soon can I get help?
A: Both the modification and refinancing programs start immediately.
Q: What if I don't qualify for either program - is there any other way to get help with a mortgage?
A: Contact your lender or mortgage servicer regarding other modification programs or refinance options. Alternatively, contact a local housing counselor to negotiate with your lender or servicer, to help locate other local resources like rescue grants or loans, or to facilitate a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure if staying in the home isn't possible.
A short sale is where homeowners sell houses for less than the amount owed on them, and the lender then considers the debt paid off. A deed-in-lieu of foreclosure is where the borrower gives the property to the lender to satisfy a delinquent loan and to avoid foreclosure proceedings.
Local housing counselors can be found at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Web site at .http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm
Q: Do FHA, VA or USDA home loans qualify for modifications under Obama's plan?
A: Mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration, Veterans Administration or the U.S. Department of Agriculture are being modified under other programs. The Obama Administration and Congress are working on legislation that would allow modifications of these home loans consistent with the Making Home Affordable program.

Housing plan aims to help 9M, but leaves out many

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration's housing plan is intended to help 9 million struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure, but it leaves out tens of thousands of borrowers in the most battered housing markets who won't qualify because their homes have lost too much value.
The program detailed Wednesday offers refinanced mortgages or modified loans with lower monthly payments. Yet its refinancing plan is limited to borrowers who owe up to 5 percent more than their home's current value. Loan modifications, supported by $75 billion in federal funding, are unlikely for severely "underwater" borrowers.

In the California cities of Stockton, Modesto and Merced, more than one out of every 10 homeowners with a mortgage won't qualify for any help because they owe more than 50 percent more than their house's current value, according to data from real-estate Web site Zillow.com.
The plan doesn't help homeowners in states "that are at the epicenter of the housing debacle," said Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com.

The ineligible households are concentrated in California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona, but can also be found in struggling cities such as Detroit and Grand Rapids, Mich. Even houses in the outlying suburbs of the nation's capital, where the economy is relatively healthy, have dropped substantially in value.

For a homeowner who borrowed $380,000 and now has a house worth $270,000, "I just don't know what you do with that," said Jared Martin, a mortgage broker in Bethesda, Md.
Government officials acknowledge that the initiatives are only a partial fix for a sweeping problem that has helped plunge the U.S. economy into the worst recession in decades.
"This is not going to save every person's home," said Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary. "The plan is not intended to ... augment somebody's loan for a house that they couldn't afford under any economic situation, good or bad."
Of the nearly 52 million U.S. homeowners with a mortgage, almost 14 million, or nearly 27 percent, owe more on their mortgage than their house is now worth, according to Moody's Economy.com. Nearly half of all borrowers in Nevada were "under water" on their home loans as of December, according to First American CoreLogic.
In troubled Stockton, nearly one in five borrowers owe more than 50 percent above what their home is now worth, making it unlikely that they will qualify for any aid.
Though banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) issued statements praising the plan, there was also skepticism that banks would be willing to participate.
"I've just seen so many of the programs not work," said Pava Leyrer, president of Heritage National Mortgage in Randville, Mich. "It gets borrowers' hopes up. They call and call for these programs and we can't get anybody to do them."
The program has two parts: one to work with lenders to modify the loan terms for up to 4 million homeowners, the second to refinance up to 5 million homeowners into more affordable fixed-rate loans.

For the modification program, which runs through 2012, borrowers who are eligible will have to provide their most recent tax return and two pay stubs, as well as an "affidavit of financial hardship" to qualify. In the affidavit, applicants will have to cite the reasons behind their financial woes, such as job loss or a drop in income. The government will then take steps to verify the information.
Borrowers are only allowed to have their loans modified once, and the program applies for loans made on Jan. 1, 2009, or earlier. Mortgages for single-family properties that are worth more than $729,750 are excluded.
Lenders could reduce a borrower's interest rate to as low as 2 percent for five years. Rates would then rise to about 5 percent until the mortgage is repaid.

The refinance program is only offered to homeowners with loans held by Fannie Mae (FNM) or Freddie Mac. (FRE) They have until June 2010 to apply.
Consumers should contact their loan servicer - the company that sends out their monthly bill - to find out if their mortgages are held by Fannie or Freddie. The two mortgage finance companies own or guarantee almost 31 million home loans, more than half of all U.S home mortgages, and say they are lowering some fees to allow more borrowers to qualify.
In Seattle, home prices are down about 13 percent from a year ago, compared with about 30 percent in Las Vegas, Miami and San Francisco.
On the Net:

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Albuquerque ranked in top 5 cities to build wealth

Top 5 Cities to Build Wealth
by Maura Pallera - Salary.com Contributing Writer
Is your paycheck not stretching far enough? Are you considering moving to a new town? Are you just
looking to change jobs? If so, it may be time to look at one of the cities at the top of Salary.com's 2008
Salary Value Index. The compensation experts at Salary.com uncovered the top US cities for building
personal net worth by taking into account local salaries, cost of living and unemployment relative to the
national average.
This year's list also factors in qualitative measures, including diversity of industry, education level of the
cities' population, proximity to post-secondary institutions, percent of the population below the poverty
level and median travel time to work.
Below are the top five Salary Value Index cities with links to salary ranges for an accountant,
administrative assistant, nurse and software developer in each city. Compare the differences between the
cities and use the Salary Wizard to see what you could earn in these locales or others.
1. Plano, Texas
Located within the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area, Plano is the ninth-largest city in Texas.
A frequent destination for business travelers, it is home to many corporate headquarters, including
JCPenney, Frito-Lay and Perot Systems. The city has a reputation for being one of the best places in the
country for employers to do business and for families to live and work. Plano has a nationally acclaimed
public education system and well-educated, diverse residents.
2. Aurora, Colorado
Aurora is part of the Denver-Aurora metropolitan area and is the third most-populous city in Colorado.
Once a budding frontier town of farmers and ranchers, Aurora is now a largely suburban city with over
450 neighborhoods. Aurora has a booming economy and is a business leader in such key growth
industries as biotechnology, aerospace and high technology.
3. Omaha, Nebraska
Part of the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area, Omaha is the largest city in Nebraska. Omaha has
been racially and ethnically diverse since its founding and continues to boast a rich cultural background.
Omaha's economy has grown dramatically since the 1990s, largely due to diversification in several
industries, including banking, insurance, telecommunications, architecture/construction and
4. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Part of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, Minneapolis is the largest city in Minnesota. The
economy is based on commerce, finance, rail and trucking services, and healthcare.
5. Albuquerque, New Mexico
This fast-growing city at the center of the New Mexico Technology Corridor is the largest city in New
Mexico. Boasting a newly revitalized downtown area, Albuquerque has a diverse population and some of
the leading high tech research facilities in the country.
Salary Value Index - Top 25 Cities
City* Rank
Plano, TX 1
Aurora, CO 2
Omaha, NE 3
Minneapolis, MN 4
Albuquerque, NM 5
Wichita, KS 6
Indianapolis, IN 7
St Paul, MN 8
Oklahoma City, OK 9
Seattle, WA 10
Colorado Springs, CO 11
Tulsa, OK 12
Austin, TX 13
Lexington, KY 14
Charlotte, NC 15
Nashville, TN 16
Raleigh, NC 17
Virginia Beach, VA 18
Anchorage, AK 19
Louisville, KY 20
Kansas City, MO 21
Denver, CO 22
Memphis, TN 23
San Antonio, TX 24
San Jose, CA 25

5 Tips for Homebuyers Seeking a Mortgage

Here's a warning for potential borrowers: Nervous lenders have tough new rules and are paperwork crazy. Here are some tips for home buyers. Read more >

News from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

FHA and Conforming Loan Limits Released
For many areas, last year's loan limits are staying in place. Read more >
Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) Effective May 1
On December 23, 2008, New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced the final agreement of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC). The agreement establishes standards on solicitation, selection, compensation, conflicts of interest and appraiser independence. The HVCC is effective May 1, 2009, for any mortgage that will be sold to the GSEs. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) mortgages are not covered in the agreement. For more about the HVCC, click here.
Fannie Instructs Its Servicers Not to Cut Commissions on Short Sales
On February 24, 2009, Fannie Mae sent Announcement 09-03 to its servicers instructing them not to negotiate commissions on short sales below the amount negotiated by the listing agent (unless the commission exceeds 6 percent). The requirement took effect March 1, 2009. Fannie Mae recognizes that
(a) negotiating commissions for short sales is unfair because getting a short sale to closing requires intensive work over many months, often requiring working with numerous buyers, and (b) compensating real estate agents fairly benefits Fannie Mae because agents play a crucial role in short sales.
The Announcement reminds servicers that third party approvals (i.e., private mortgage insurers) may be required and can affect commissions. NAR has asked both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to strengthen their policies against reducing short sales commissions, welcomes Fannie’s announcement, and has urged Freddie to follow Fannie’s lead.

Pending Sales Down, Affordability at Record

NAR reports pending home sales declined on the heels of a weakening economy and with some buyers waiting for clarity on housing stimulus provisions, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Read more >

HB 521: Domestic Well Permits

(Varela – Santa Fe)
It seems that each session, legislation is introduced to expand the authority of the state engineer over domestic wells. RANM opposes the expansion of that authority. This year’s HB 521 provides that an application for domestic well use may be made by a person, firm or corporation only for the purpose of household or other domestic use, eliminating the use allowed under current law of irrigating less than one acre of noncommercial trees, lawn or garden. The bill was assigned to committees in the House a month ago, but no hearings have been held nor are any scheduled.

HB 539: Rental Property: Uniform Assignment of Rents Act

(O’Neill – Albuquerque)
Those of you who are carrying the loan on rental properties you have sold may be interested in HB 539. This bill constitutes the adoption of the Uniform Assignment of Rents Act promulgated by the National Commission on Uniform State Laws. Its purpose is to make it clear that any mortgage, deed of trust or the like that provides a creditor an interest in a piece of real estate will also provide a security interest in the rental income of that property, all enforceable in the event there is a default on the debt. This bill passed the House unanimously and is now in the Senate waiting for committee hearings. RANM supports this legislation.