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.


Timing couldn’t be much better for first-time homebuyers

First-time homebuyers dominated the U.S. real estate market in 2009, accounting for roughly half of all residential transactions, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

That trend is likely to continue well into the new year. That’s because interest rates are hovering near all-time lows, home-price affordability is near all-time highs and a third factor – Congress’ extension of the first-time homebuyer tax credit until April 30, 2010 – make conditions quite favorable for those considering homeownership for the first time.

Still, with the prospect of making one of the largest investments you’ll ever make in your life, you can easily become overwhelmed. Some of the questions you may be asking are: Will I be able to afford the home of my dreams? Do I have enough money for a down payment? Will I qualify for the tax credit? Will I make smart home buying decisions? If you go into the process prepared, your first purchase – like the current timing – can be just right.

Continue reading…


Two million Americans expected to take advantage of the new tax credits


HomeFinder sends you homes you’re looking for

You can’t afford to miss timely market information. Our HomeFinder system automatically:

  • Scans the MLS database every six minutes
  • Alerts buyers to new properties almost immediately
  • E-mails complete buyer listing sheets
  • Includes address and all property details (including property address, street map and driving directions)
  • Sends automated updates as soon as new photos are available

For even more detailed information, ask a Prudential Northwest Properties broker about signing up for HomeFinder Pro.


Homeowners love our Property Investment Profile

Our exclusive Property Investment Profile reports keep property owners apprised of current property values based on real time MLS market data. We frequently hear appreciative comments from homeowners who receive these reports via email…

“Just a note to thank you for the excellent service you provide with this e-mail. I find it very helpful and interesting to be able to track real estate activity in my area with so little effort on my part! You may not remember me, but we met while you were canvassing my area near Cooper Mountain. I don’t have any plans to buy or sell very soon, but, with the retirement of my usual realtor, you’ve moved to the top of my list of realtors should I need such a service.”

 Here’s one from a gentleman at first hesitant to give out his email address:

“Thank you for including me on your Property Investment Profile report mailing list. I get a lot of useless Real Estate information coming from well intentioned marketers, but your report is the best and most useful I have seen. When it arrives, I always take some time to look through it and educate myself as to our current neighborhood market.

When you first contacted me, I hesitated to give you my e-mail address because I expected another duplication of what the competition is already doing. However, your report is unique in its timeliness and format. Best of all, it is easy to navigate and does not require a direct inquiry to the Realtor to find out the information most needed. This program distinguishes you and your firm, and presents a very professional appearance in terms of your marketplace presence. And, exploring the attachment information is very helpful for our situation. Whoever wrote the program has developed a very useful tool. Keep up the good work.”

Click here to receive a Property Investment Profile on your home.


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