Local home sales down, but parts of market doing well

Local home sales have fallen behind last year’s pace, after being up for most of this year because of the homebuyer tax credit.

As of Aug. 31, there had been 2,490 home sales through the local Multiple Listing Service, which covers Lancaster and parts of surrounding counties. That’s down more than 5 percent from the same period last year.

Through the first two quarters of the year, home sales were up 13 percent over 2009, but sales have dropped off sharply in July and August, down more than 50 percent compared with the same months last year.

That’s largely because of the expiration of the federal tax credit of $8,000 for new homebuyers and $6,500 for repeat homebuyers. The credit expired at the end of April, and buyers had until the end of June to close those sales.

Despite the sharp drop-off, there are still many positive signs in the local real estate market.

Sales of new homes, which last year eked out their first year-over-year gain since 2003, are up about 6 percent so far this year.

And average sale prices for new and existing homes are up, leading to an overall price increase of more than 2 percent through August.

Realtors Association of Lincoln Executive Vice President Nicole Jensen said in an e-mail last week that those two developments are signs that the market is stable, despite the drop in sales of existing homes.

Another positive sign is the increase in luxury home sales.

HomeServices of Nebraska, which owns Home Real Estate and Woods Bros Realty in Lincoln, said in a news release Wednesday that sales of homes more than $500,000 are up 11 percent this year compared with last.

“Buyers in the upper price brackets are taking advantage of today’s low interest rates,” said Gene Brake, CEO of HomeServices of Nebraska. “They can get more house for less money than they could a couple years ago.”

Mortgage rates have been hovering at historical lows around 4 percent for several months.

Another reason for the jump in high-end home sales is the “move-up” effect.

As new homebuyers used the tax credit to buy lower-priced homes, it allowed the sellers of those homes to “move up” to bigger, more expensive ones.

In an effort to capitalize on the strong demand for higher-end homes, Woods Bros and Home are planning an open house tour of 22 of the more than 60 houses over $500,000 currently on the market.

The tour is scheduled from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Home Real Estate agent Nelda Hunt said the tour gives people a “nonthreatening, fun opportunity” to see some of the luxury homes available.

“Our inventory of luxury homes really cleared out the end of last year and the beginning of 2010,” Hunt said. “Now we have a new influx of homes on the market that are great values, and we want people to come out and take a look.”

Reach Matt Olberding at 473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.
Copyright Lincoln Journal Star. Read original article here.

Luxury home market improves; Luxury Home Tour scheduled for tomorrow night

Home sales over $500,000 are up over 2009, despite decrease in other price ranges

There’s a glimmer of light in the Lincoln real estate market. Home sales over $500,000 are up 11 percent over last year.

This is good news considering that sales below $500,000 are down nearly 9 percent, according to the Midlands MLS. Local real estate agents are crediting the chain reactions caused by the home buyer tax credits, in addition to extremely low interest rates.

“Buyers in the upper price brackets are taking advantage of today’s low interest rates,” said Gene Brake, CEO of HomeServices of Nebraska, and Woods Bros Realty. “They can get more house for less money than they could a couple years ago.”

There are currently more than 60 homes listed for sale over $500,000, and one group of REALTORS® is working together to help the public view many of them in one evening. Several Woods Bros Realty and HOME Real Estate agents have teamed up to host 22 open houses over $500,000 on Thursday, Sept. 30, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

For more information about the Luxury Home Tour, visit www.WoodsBros.com.

It’s a great time to buy a home!

Check out the following story from KLKN Channel 8 on today’s real estate market in Lincoln, Nebraska, featuring our own Miranda Watson.

Welcome to Lincolnshire

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Woods Bros Realty presents 2010 Spring Jubilee of Homes

JubileeLogo-webWoods Bros Realty is proud to present its 2010 Spring Jubilee of Homes. Over 20 brand-new homes will be open to the public from 1-5 p.m. on April 17-18 and 24-25. Visitors can register at each home for a one-in-four chance to win a Visa® gift card.

This year’s Jubilee occurs during the very end of the $6,500 repeat and $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credits, in which buyers have until April 30 to be under contract and until June 30 to close on the purchase of their new home. Buyers could purchase one of these homes in plenty of time for the tax credit. For those who would prefer to customize their own new home, Woods Bros sales professionals will be on site at each home to help buyers through the process of selecting a builder and a floor plan, all the way through to the closing and moving into a brand-new home.

It’s no secret that today’s new homes save home buyers money on heating and cooling costs. From windows and doors to insulation and roofs, the efficiency standards have increased over time. Some builders go above and beyond when considering energy efficiency. A number of our Spring Jubilee Homes have earned the Energy Star rating.

Compared with standard homes, Energy Star homes meet strict energy efficiency guidelines, delivering hundreds of dollars in annual savings on heating, cooling and water bills. These guidelines also help protect the environment, creating less air pollution, and the Energy Star rating is becoming an important quality when considering reselling your investment.

Click here for a list of new homes in the Spring Jubilee of Homes.

Leave the Light on Thursdays throughout April

LTLOwebtopperTime is running out for the $6,500 repeat and $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credits, and the government is NOT going to extend the credit. That gives you less than a month to negotiate an accepted offer on a home in order to make the April 30, 2010, deadline, at which point you must close on the purchase by June 30, 2010.

In order to give our customers and clients more opportunities to find the home of their dreams, Woods Bros Realty is holding its “Leave the Light on Thursdays” open houses every Thursday night from 5-7 p.m. throughout the month of April. Search participating homes at www.WoodsBros.com.

Are we borrowing home sales from later in the year?

Unless you have been stuck in a closet or under a rock for the past several months, you  know that the deadline is quickly approaching for both the first time home buyer $8,000 tax credit and the $6,500 tax credit for repeat home buyers.

Anyone wanting to get either of those credits must be in contract by April 30, 2010. These incentives have certainly provided a boost to home sales across the country and in Lincoln. We are likely to see a rush from buyers to find a home and make an offer before the deadline hits. So, what happens after April 30th?

It’s possible some of these home buyers are making the move now instead of waiting until later this year. Perhaps they are getting married in the fall, or expecting a baby later this year, and they know they want to buy a house in 2010 so they have decidded to buy now and get the incentive. Does that mean realtors and home sellers will be sitting idle later this year? Perhaps.

However, I have encountered some buyers who are not going to let the promise of $8,000 force them into making a decision on a house before the right one comes along. Other buyers are betting that home prices are somewhat artificially inflated now because of the incentives and they are expecting home sellers will be more willing to negotiate later this year.

Your thoughts? Let me know.

Home buyer tax credits spurring Grand Island housing market

By Robert Pore
Grand Island Independent

It may be the right time to buy a house.

The government is providing a number of tax incentives that could help not only first-time home buyers but also those existing homeowners who would like to upgrade their residence.

Under the guidelines of the 2009-10 Home Buyer Federal Tax Credit program, first-time home buyers who have not owned a principal residence during the three years prior to the purchase may be eligible for a tax credit of 10 percent of the home’s purchase price, up to a maximum of $8,000.

Existing homeowners — who have been residing in their principal residence for five consecutive years out of the last eight and are purchasing a home to be their principal residence — or a repeat buyer may be eligible for a tax credit of 10 percent of the home’s purchase price, up to $6,500.

The eligibility period is for homes purchased after Nov. 6, 2009, and before May 1, 2010. However, home purchases subject to a binding sales contract signed by April 30 will qualify for the tax credit provided that closing occurs prior to July 1.

For more information about the Home Buyer Federal Tax Credit, visit www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com.

Pat Schmit of Woods Bros Realty, president of the Grand Island Board of Realtors, said the federal Home Buyers Tax Credit program has generated a lot of interest from potential home buyers.

“Many, many buyers have benefitted from this credit,” Schmit said, “mostly young people who are first-time home buyers.”

But interest has also been strong for the tax credit available for existing homeowners looking to upgrade, Schmit said.

Homes that qualify are all less than $800,000, including newly constructed homes or resale, and single-family detached, town homes or condominiums, provided that the home will be used as the buyer’s principal residence. Vacation home and rental property purchases do no qualify.

There are income limits to the program.

For example, home buyers who file as single or head of household can claim the full credit if their modified adjusted gross income is less than $125,000. For married couples filing a joint return, the combined income is $225,000. Single or head-of-household taxpayers who earn between $125,000 and $145,000, and married couples who earn between $225,000 and $245,000, are eligible to receive a partial credit.

The credit is not available for single taxpayers whose modified adjusted grossed income is greater than $145,000 or married couples whose modified adjusted grossed income exceeds $245,000.

The tax credit is refundable, which means that, if the amount of income taxes you owe is less than the credit amount you qualify for, the government will send you a check for the difference. Under the program, the tax credit does not have to be repaid unless the homeowner sells or stops using the home as his or her principal residence within three years after the purchase.

The Home Buyer Federal Tax Credit was started to stimulate the housing market following the recent economic recession that slowed home buying and home construction.

While the housing market suffered throughout the country as a result of the economic downturn, the effects were not as great in Central Nebraska, Schmit said.

“Our housing market fell to some extent, but this (tax credit) has definitely improved it and has sparked an interest in buying again,” she said. “We have had a very strong housing market, and we saw a small decline, nothing like other communities.”

Schmit described Grand Island’s housing market as “stable,” but the number of listings are down, “and that is hurting us.”

“Normally, this time of year, we have about 350 listings, and now we are down to about 280,” she said. “There are just not as many houses to choose from, and it’s taking buyers longer to find a house.”

The number of listings may be down because people are not ready to sell their homes because of the economic climate nationwide, Schmit said.

“They feel that maybe it is just not the right time to move up,” she said.

Also, with lower housing prices, people who purchased homes several years ago may be reluctant to place them on the market for less than what they paid.

Once those home prices become more competitive as the number of buyers increases, owners may be more willing to put those homes on the market.

Schmit said there is a wide range of homes on the market — from older homes to new construction. She said the current price range averages between $100,000 to $150,000.

“It’s a very dynamic market, and we have people of all ages looking,” she said. “We have had calls from people moving back from Oregon and California.”

Another incentive is that interest rates are low. Schmit said there’s also strong demand for rental properties in Grand Island, which may contribute to tighter lending practices for those wanting to buy a new home.

For the rest of the article, visit the Grand Island Independent web site.

Government extension of existing tax credits and creation of new benefits a positive step for residential real estate market

New tax credits will help continue to further activity within Lincoln’s residential real estate market

The extension and expansion of the existing homebuyer tax credit programs are positive steps for the nation’s residential real estate market, says Ron Peltier, Chairman and CEO of HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, and the nation’s second-largest independent residential real estate brokerage (www.homeservices.com).

The existing homebuyer tax credit program, which has been in effect since January 2009, provides up to $8,000 in tax credits for individuals purchasing their first home, as well as for those who have not owned a home for three years has been extended into 2010. Under the new extended legislation, the current Nov. 30, 2009 deadline to close on a home has been expanded to June 30, 2010.

The newly-enacted tax credit provides eligible home buyers who have lived in their current home consecutively for five of the previous eight years with up to $6,500 in tax credits.

Qualified, prospective homebuyers looking to capitalize on either tax incentive will need to have a signed purchase agreement by April 30, 2010, and will need to close on their home by June 30, 2010.

“It is an unprecented time to buy a home,” said Gene Ward, managing broker and team leader of Woods Bros Realty. “The low interest rates and these tax incentives make it the perfect storm to make a move. Our local market will especially benefit because of our low home prices and cost of living.”

“We view this as an extremely positive step for our industry,” adds Peltier. “The extension of the homebuyer tax credit and, in particular, expanding the tax credit to include current homeowners, creates motivation for those buyers that have been contemplating a home purchase. This creates a tremendous incentive and makes this the perfect opportunity to act now.”

The tax credit is available for the purchase of principal residences only, and the home must cost no more than $800,000. Vacation and second homes are not eligible.

Individual buyers must have an annual income of no more than $125,000, or $225,000 for those who file jointly. Buyers who have served in the military outside of the U.S. for at least 90 days will receive a 12-month extension on the tax credit.

“Our industry is one of the nation’s key economic drivers,” concludes Peltier. “We are confident in its long-term viability and in its chief mission of helping facilitate the American dream of owning a home.”

Woods Bros Realty, an affiliate of HomeServices of America, is a full-service company offering 120 years of expertise in real estate as well as experience in mortgage, title, closing, and insurance services. Providing an easier way to buy and sell, nearly 300 sales associates work with clients in Lincoln, Seward, Beatrice, York, Grand Island, and southeast and northeast Nebraska. For more information about Woods Bros Realty, visit www.WoodsBros.com.

About HomeServices of America
HomeServices of America, Inc., based in Minneapolis, Minn., is the second-largest homeownership service provider in the United States. Owned by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., HomeServices’ operating companies offer integrated real estate services, including brokerage services, mortgage originations, title and closing services, property and casualty insurance, home warranties and other homeownership services. HomeServices Relocation, LLC is the full-service relocation arm of HomeServices of America which provides every aspect of domestic and international relocation to corporations around the world. HomeServices operates in 20 states under the following residential real estate brand names: Carol Jones REALTORS; CBSHOME Real Estate; Champion Realty Inc.; Edina Realty; EWM REALTORS; Harry Norman, REALTORS; HOME Real Estate; Huff Realty; Iowa Realty; Koenig & Strey GMAC Real Estate; Long Companies; Prudential California Realty; Prudential Carolinas Realty; Prudential First Realty; Prudential York Simpson Underwood; RealtySouth; Rector-Hayden REALTORS; Reece & Nichols; Roberts Brothers Inc.; Semonin REALTORS and Woods Bros Realty. Information about HomeServices and the locations of its subsidiary companies is available at www.homeservices.com.

BREAKING NEWS: Obama Signs Homebuyer Tax Credit Extension

RISMEDIA, November 6, 2009—President Barack Obama has approved the first-time homebuyer tax credit extension which will extend the tax credit until April 30, 2010.

The extension is part of a $24 billion economic stimulus bill that will extend the $8,000 tax credit for homebuyers who are purchasing their first home from the current November 30 deadline and expands the program to offer a credit of $6,500 to homeowners who have lived in their current home for at least five years and are seeking to relocate.

The following details apply to the homebuyer tax credit expansion:

Who is Eligible

  • First-time homebuyers, who are defined by the law as buyers who have not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase, may be eligible for up to an $8,000 tax credit.
  • Existing homeowners who have been residing in their principal residence for five consecutive years out of the last eight and are purchasing a home to be their principal residence (“repeat buyer”), may be eligible for up to a $6,500 tax credit.
  • All U.S. citizens who file taxes are eligible to participate in the program.

Income Limits

Homebuyers who file as single or head-of-household taxpayers can claim the full credit ($8,000 for first-time buyers and $6,500 for repeat buyers) if their modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is less than $125,000.

  • For married couples filing a joint return, the combined income limit is $225,000.
  • Single or head-of-household taxpayers who earn between $125,000 and $145,000, and married couples who earn between $225,000 and $245,000 are eligible to receive a partial credit.
  • The credit is not available for single taxpayers whose MAGI is greater than $145,000 and married couples with a MAGI that exceeds $245,000.

Effective Dates

The eligibility period for the tax credit is for homes purchased after Nov. 6, 2009, and before May 1, 2010. However, home purchases subject to a binding sales contract signed by April 30, 2010, will qualify for the tax credit provided closing occurs prior to July 1, 2010.

Types of Homes that Qualify

All homes with a purchase price of less than $800,000 qualify, including newly-constructed or resale, and single-family detached, townhomes or condominiums, provided that the home will be used as their principal residence. Vacation home and rental property purchases do NOT qualify.

Tax Credit is Refundable

A refundable credit means that if the amount of income taxes you owe is less than the credit amount you qualify for, the government will send you a check for the difference.

For example:

  • A first-time buyer who qualifies for the full $8,000 credit who owes $5,000 in federal income taxes would pay nothing to the IRS and receive a $3,000 payment from the government. If you are due to receive a $1,000 refund, you would receive $9,000 ($1,000 plus the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit).
  • A repeat buyer who owes $5,000 would pay nothing to the IRS and receive $1,500 back from the government. If you are due to get a $1,000 refund, you would get $7,500 ($1,000 plus the $6,500 repeat buyer tax credit).
  • All qualified homebuyers can take the tax credit on their 2009 or 2010 income tax return.

Payback Provisions

The tax credit is a true credit. It does not have to be repaid unless the home owner sells or stops using the home as their principal residence within three years after the purchase.

The www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com  site is being updated and should have more detailed information on the new tax credit next week.

Breaking News: House votes to expand homebuyer tax credit

By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER (View full Associated Press here.)

WASHINGTON — Buying a home is about to get cheaper for a whole new crop of homebuyers — $6,500 cheaper.

First-time homebuyers have been getting tax credits of up to $8,000 since January as part of the economic stimulus package enacted earlier this year. But with the program scheduled to expire at the end of November, the House voted 403-12 Thursday to extend and expand the tax credit to include many buyers who already own homes. The Senate approved the measure Wednesday, and President Barack Obama is expected to sign it.

Buyers who have owned their current homes at least five years would be eligible for tax credits of up to $6,500. First-time homebuyers — or anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the last three years — would still get up to $8,000. To qualify, buyers in both groups have to sign a purchase agreement by April 30, 2010, and close by June 30.

“This is probably the last extension,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., a former real estate executive who championed the credits.

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