Category Archives: Right Time

What’s the local Sunnyvale Real Estate market doing?

Great Question!  The truth is this is a challenging time for the local  market!  We are certainly in a buyer’s market, where prices are heading downward, but what caused it to shift so suddenly?  The biggest factor has been the rise and fall of sub-prime mortgages.

You have to admit, it sounded a little crazy when banks, who are notoriously conservative, decided to offer 100% financing.  And it sounded even stranger when banks decided to offer “no qual” loans, where they said they weren’t going to verify if the borrower made enough money to make the necessary payments on the loan!

So, what exactly were they thinking when they decided to combine the two, offering 100% financed, “no qual” loans???  Hello???  Who’s the rocket scientist that came up with that one?  It’s no wonder so many of those loans are heading into foreclosure!

Creating buyers out of so many people who really weren’t “qualified” brought too many buyers into the market place, artificially driving prices up.  And now that those loans are no longer being offered, prices are coming back down.  What else is contributing?  How about an economy heading into (or already in) recession?  How about local companies announcing layoffs and downsizing, causing buyers to lose confidence?   How about increasing inventory?  Add it all up, and you have today’s “softening” market, where prices are falling.  However, it’s also creating opportunity to buy at very low prices!!!

2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit Facts

The federal government is providing a first-time home buyer credit of up to $8,000 for qualified
purchasers of a principal residence in 2009. However, that program is scheduled to end as of
December 1, 2009. Although other incentive programs, such as the “cash for clunkers” giveaway,
were extended beyond the originally scheduled termination date, there is no indication that the
first-time home buyer credit will be extended beyond its originally scheduled termination date.
To qualify for the credit, the first-time home buyer must close escrow on or before November 30,
2009 and meet other eligibility requirements (see below).

Unfortunately, many factors can delay the close of escrow. Such factors include, but are not
limited to: the buyer’s ability to secure financing; the seller’s ability to resolve any and all
outstanding financial obligations affecting the property; and the condition of the property.
Mortgage professionals have no control over any or all of these potential timing problems and thus
are not able to guarantee the precise date that escrow will close.

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2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit Facts


Who is Eligible

• The $8,000 tax credit is available for first-time home buyers only.
• The law defines “first-time home buyer” as a buyer who has not owned a principal
residence during the three (3) year period prior to the purchase.
• All U.S. citizens who file taxes are eligible to participate in the program.

Payback Provisions
• The tax credit is a true credit. It does not have to be repaid.
• The only repayment requirement is if the homeowner sold the home within three (3) years
after the purchase.

Income Limits
• Home buyers who file as single or head-of-household taxpayers can claim the full $8,000
credit if their modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is less than $75,000.
• For married couples filing a joint return, the income limit doubles to $150,000.
• Single or head-of-household taxpayers who earn between $75,000 and $95,000 are eligible to
receive a partial first-time home buyer tax credit.
• Married couples who earn between $150,000 and $170,000 are eligible to receive a partial
first-time home buyer tax credit.
• The credit is not available for single taxpayers whose MAGI is greater than $95,000 and
married couples with a MAGI that exceeds $170,000.

Effective Dates for the Tax Credit
· First-time home buyers can receive an $8,000 tax credit for the purchase of any home on or
after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009. To qualify, you must actually close on
the sale of the home during this period.

Tax Credit is Refundable
• A refundable credit means that if you pay less than $8,000 in federal income taxes, then the
government will write you a check for the difference.
• For example, if you owe $5,000 in federal income taxes, you would pay nothing to the IRS
and receive a $3,000 payment from the government.
• If you are due to receive a $1,000 tax refund from the government, your refund would grow
to $9,000 ($1,000 plus $8,000 from the home buyer tax credit).
· Buyers can take the tax credit on their 2008 or 2009 income tax return.

Types of Homes that Qualify for the Tax Credit
• All homes, whether single-family, townhomes, or condominium apartments will qualify,
provided that the home will be used as a principal residence and the buyer has not owned a
principal residence in the prior three years. This also includes newly-constructed homes.
For more details on the tax credit, go to www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com

Have Real Estate Prices Hit Rock Bottom?

The secret is that not all properties hit rock bottom at the same time. Many properties have already hit bottom and they have already been purchased. Somebody else got the deal. Some properties will never hit bottom; the sellers will simply remove them from the market and re-list then in better, more expensive times. You can describe the market like this: If you threw a handful of small rubber balls in the air, they would not all hit the ground at the same time. They’d all bounce at different times, just like individual house prices.

Not every seller will come to the same conclusion at the same time. A     property is not worth what the seller wants, what the seller paid or what somebody else paid. A property is worth what a willing and qualified buyer will pay today, and not a penny more. The good news is sellers are starting to figure that out, one at a time.

The trick is identifying the bounce — and when to buy a specific property. This is particularly important with investment properties. As an investor looking to maximize profits, the price of a specific property is at rock bottom when the return on investment is better if you buy the property than if you leave your money where it is. Compare the real estate rental income and positive cash flow to the other investment options we all have, i.e. stocks, bonds, savings accounts, etc. As real estate prices come down, and consequently the mortgage payments and taxes come down, while at the same time the demand for rentals is growing, at some point the positive cash flow will make the investment irresistible. That is the bottom for an investor.

You must ignore everybody else and their investments. What we see now in hindsight is that many people paid too much when they invested in a seller’s market. Remember, for you to win, somebody else has to lose. Because so many people are losing so much of their equity, it makes your ability to win much easier in a buyer’s market like we’re in right now.

In a stable market, real estate prices are not driven up by investors. Home owners should be the predominant driving force. When a renter sees that their rent is higher than what they would be paying if they were to buy a similar property, the tenants tend to once again convert to homeowners. That is the bottom line for tenants. We know not all tenants have what it takes (income, savings and credit) to secure the American dream of home-ownership. Consequently, there will always be tenants and they will always need investors like us to provide them with a home.

It’s been years since we’ve seen prices low enough that we could invest in nice properties in great locations. If you’ve ever been tired of hearing, “I remember when I could” or “I should have bought them all when I had the chance.” Now you can. You have a second chance — take advantage of it!