Rent or Buy? Do the Math…

Owning a home has never been more affordable than in today’s market, according to NAR’s Housing Affordability Index.

The affordability index compares median income, median home price and mortgage rates. An index value of 100 means a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent downpayment. The index rating has fluctuated within the 180 to 200 range since the beginning of this year. An HAI of 180 means that a family earning the median income has 180 percent of the income needed to qualify for a mortgage on a median priced home.

For deeper perspective, consider a family with an annual income of $60,000 renting at $1,000 per month. By comparison, a 30-year mortgage payment on a $170,000 home at a rate of 4.5 percent, assuming a 20 percent downpayment, would be $700 per month.


Prudential ranked highest among Home Sellers in J.D. Power and Associates Report!

Prudential Real Estate Ranked Highest in Overall Satisfaction for Home Sellers Among National Full Service Real Estate Firms by J.D. Power and Associates!

This is the second time in three years we’ve earned this distinction, and Prudential is the only brokerage network in the nation to improve in home-seller satisfaction in 2010.

 

This distinction comes on the heels of additional great news from our Relocation Division.  Trippel Survey & Research LLC, a customer satisfaction research company specializing in relocation data, ranked Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services first among several of the largest firms providing relocation services in its 16thannual Nationwide Relocation Survey.  And earlier this year, PRERS ranked first in overall satisfaction in Trippel Survey & Research’s sixth annual Relocation Managers’ Survey on International Policy and Services Providers’ Performance.

We’re proud of our affiliation with the Prudential brand and of the great service we deliver. Ranking highest in the nation in seller satisfaction shows our clients appreciate and acknowledge our skill, expertise and service. Coupled with our tremendously high QSC ratings, this proves Prudential Northwest Properties continues to exceed expectations and provide the greatest value and service in the industry.


Home buyers win more time to claim tax credit

Good news! President Obama signed into law a three-month extension on the deadline for home buyers to obtain a federal home buyer tax credit of up to $8,000.

Eligible taxpayers who contracted to buy a home, qualifying for the first-time home buyer tax credit before the end of April 2010, now have until September 30, 2010 to close the deal. To be eligible, buyers need to be in a binding contract that was in place by April 30.


Nationwide Open House weekend – April 10 & 11th

In recognition of April as National Fair Housing Month, the REALTOR® Nationwide Open House event this weekend will provide residents throughout the country a chance to walk through a large number of homes as the home buying season officially kicks off.

With interest rates remaining at historically low levels and average home prices as low as they have been in five years, home buyers still have time to take advantage of the $8,000 federal tax credit available for first-time buyers, as well as a $6,500 credit for current home owners who are under contract on a new home by April 30.

Visit www.prunw.com to search Open Houses and plan your tour this weekend!


Fed to keep interest rates low

Federal ReserveBoard Chairman Ben Bernanke reassured Congress Wednesday that the Fed has no plans to raise interest rates any time soon.

“The federal funds rate is likely to remain exceptionally low for an extended period,” Bernanke told the House Financial Services Committee. Last week’s decision to raise the discount rate charged to banks who tap the Fed for short-term credit was a result of improvements in private-sector sources for such financing, Bernanke said. It should not “lead to tighter financial conditions for households and businesses and should not be interpreted as signaling any change in the outlook for monetary policy,” he said.

That reassurance came as a relief to Wall Street, where stocks advanced on the news, and to most members of Congress.


Tax Credit encourages buyers to shop early

The homebuying season is starting early this year, thanks to the expanded first-time and move-up homebuyer tax credit.

Typically, the busiest time for home shopping starts in March and continues through May, but this year buyers who want to take advantage of the tax credits have to have a signed contract by April 30 and close the deal by June 30.

That is getting people off the couch.

“The tax credit will absolutely have an effect,” says Pete Flint, CEO of residential real estate search engine Trulia.com. “It is going to shift demand from the later part of the year to the first part. January and February will be very strong. The next three months, there will be a surge in demand.”

Read more about the Tax Credit here.

Source: USA Today, Stephanie Armour


Prudent home remodeling is worth the investment

Sensible home remodeling is still worth the investment, according to Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report. Uncertainty and restraint are the order of the day in this economy, and that sense of caution is reflected in home owners’ return on their investment in remodeling projects, according to REALTORS® in 80 metropolitan markets surveyed by Remodeling magazine for this year’s Cost vs. Value Report.

Many of these stats reinforce the notion that boosting the amount of livable space in and around your home will attract buyers who are increasingly looking for more room for their buck. In past years, converting an attic into a bedroom was a project that landed squarely in the middle of the rankings, but this year it leapfrogged over other categories into third place. It’s an admittedly pricey project, with an average national cost of nearly $50,000, but it generates an average national return of 83.1 percent and a better-than-100 percent return on investment, according to REALTORS® in 14 of the 80 cities surveyed. Adding a wood deck is much more economical, with an average national cost of slightly more than $10,000. Its average national return is 80.6 percent, but in six cities, its return is estimated at 100 percent or greater.  Continue reading…


The Basics: Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit

Bringing the Dream of Homeownership Within Reach

As part of its plan to stimulate the U.S. housing market and address the economic challenges facing our nation, Congress has passed new legislation that:

  • Extends the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit of up to $8,000 to first-time home buyers until April 30, 2010.
  • Expands the credit to grant up to $6,500 credit to current home owners purchasing a new or existing home between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010.

Here is a little more information about how the Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit can help prospective home buyers become part of the American dream.

Who Qualifies for the Extended Credit?

  • First-time home buyers who purchase homes between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010.
  • Current home owners purchasing a home between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010, who have used the home being sold or vacated as a principal residence for five consecutive years within the last eight.

 To qualify as a “first-time home buyer” the purchaser or his/her spouse may not have owned a residence during the three years prior to the purchase.

Which Properties Are Eligible?

The Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit may be applied to primary residences, including: single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and co-ops.

How Much Is Available?

The maximum allowable credit for first-time home buyers is $8,000.

The maximum allowable credit for current homeowners is $6,500.

If you have specific questions or need additional information, please contact a tax professional or the Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-1040.


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