Real Estate Information Archive


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Extended Tax Credit for Homebuyers

by Bruce Katz

Last week, President Barack Obama signed a law that extends through next spring a temporary tax credit of up to $8,000 for some first-time home buyers, which was due to expire Nov. 30. The law also adds a new tax credit of up to $6,500 for certain repeat home buyers. The package, which the government estimates will cost a total of $11 billion, is intended to help spur housing sales, a critical part of the economy.


Here are some answers to common questions about the new rules.


Q: What has stayed the same in the new law?

1) First-time home buyers still get a credit of as much as 10% of the purchase price, up to a maximum $8,000. "First-time" means people, including both partners of a married couple, who haven't owned a principal residence for three years before the purchase.

2) All taxpayers who claim a credit must use the home as a principal residence for the next three consecutive years.

3) The credits offer dollar-for-dollar reductions of tax and are refundable. This means that a taxpayer who doesn't pay enough tax to offset the credit can get a refund. For example, if you qualify for an $8,000 credit but only owe $5,000 in tax, you could receive a $3,000 check from the Internal Revenue Service.

4) Under the new law, as under the old, 2009 home buyers may claim the credit on either their 2008 or 2009 returns, and 2010 buyers may claim the credit on either their 2009 or 2010 returns.

5) Taxpayers do not qualify for a credit if they buy from a lineal ancestor or descendent, including parents or grandparents and children or grandchildren.


Q: What has changed?

Several important features took effect as of Nov. 6:

1) To take advantage of the tax credits, a buyer must have a contract in place before May 1, 2010, and the deal must close before July 1, 2010. No further extension is expected.

2) The price of the house is now capped. For purchases made after Nov. 6, no credit is available for any home costing more than $800,000.

3) There is now a tax credit for repeat buyers as well as for first-time buyers. Taxpayers who have lived in one residence for five consecutive years of the past eight can now qualify for a tax credit of as much as 10% of the purchase price, up to a maximum $6,500, of a new principal residence. The new home does not have to cost more than the old one.

4) Income limits for people who qualify for a tax credit are far more generous than under the previous law. For single filers, the credits now phase out between $125,000 and $145,000 of modified adjusted gross income; for married couples, the range is $225,000 to $245,000. For most people, modified adjusted gross income will be the same as adjusted gross income.

5) The new law contains anti-abuse measures designed to stem fraud, which became a problem with the previous home-buyer tax credit. Most buyers must be 18 or older, and no taxpayer may take a credit if he or she is claimed as a dependent on someone else's return. Taxpayers taking the credit will also have to furnish proof of purchase. According to Robert Dietz of the National Association of Home Builders, this will usually be a HUD-1 form.

6) People taking the tax credit, as under the old law, aren't allowed to buy a home from a lineal ancestor or descendent. The new law, applying to purchases made after Nov. 6, also says a person may not take a credit if the home is purchased from a spouse or the spouse's lineal relatives.


Q: If I bought a house last spring or summer, can I get a tax credit?

You qualify if you are a first-time buyer and meet the other requirements, but not if you are a repeat buyer. The new credit for repeat buyers applies only to purchases made after Nov. 6.


Q: What is the definition of "principal residence"?

If you own more than one home, your principal residence is usually the one where you spend most of your time. In determining residence the IRS may also consider where your family lives and your mailing address for bills and correspondence, among other factors.


Q: Can a principal residence be something besides a conventional house?                                                 

Yes. A principal residence may also be a condominium, co-op apartment, attached or semi-attached townhouse, or even-if it has eating, sleeping and toilet facilities-a boat, motor home or trailer. Manufactured homes qualify in some states.


Q: Does the person who claims the credit have to use the home as a principal residence?



Q: If I buy a new home and live in it, do I also have to sell my old one in order to take advantage of the credit?

This is unclear. The law appears to allow repeat buyers to retain their old home, for which no tax credit was given, while claiming a credit for the new one. What is clear is that if you buy a new home using the credit, you must use it as your principal residence.


Q: How may the credits be allocated among two or more unmarried buyers?

This also is unclear. But if the IRS adopts the rules that applied to the previous tax credit, which are detailed in IRS Notice 2009-12, there is room for planning. The notice says that taxpayers may use "any reasonable manner" to allocate the credit. It even provides an example in which two unmarried buyers allocate the credit to the lower earner in order to qualify for it.


Q: I need the credit refund to help make the down payment. What can I do?

There's no rushing the IRS. But one option is to adjust your current withholding from your paychecks to reflect the fact that you will be taking the credit later. But be careful: If you don't make the purchase, then you may owe interest and penalties. Consult a tax adviser.


Q: Is it possible to qualify for a credit if I am building a home on a lot I already own?

Yes, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The purchase date is usually considered to be the date of first occupancy, so you would need to move in before July 1, 2010.


Q: May I take a credit if I am building a large addition to my home?

No; these credits apply only to the purchase of a home.


Q: Are there special rules for the military?

Yes. In general, members of the military and foreignservice and intelligence communities who are serving overseas on "official extended duty" for at least 90 days during 2009 and the first four months of 2010 have an extra year to take advantage of these credits. Consult a tax adviser who specializes in this area.


Q: Where can I get more information?

Go to, a Web site sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders. You can also look for links from the IRS's home page,, or search for Homebuyer Credit. Another option is to consult a professional tax adviser.

Photographing Properties for Sale in Ulster County

by Team Ulster

Before Team Ulster lists a real estate property for sale in Ulster County, we take over 100 photographs of:


  • The inside of the house. We don't stop at taking photographs of the bedrooms, kitchen, and living rooms from many angles. We also photograph the bathrooms, attic, basement, hallways, garage, fireplaces, wood stoves, the views from the windows, and any features that buyers might be interested in.


  • The outside of the house. We take photographs from all sides of the house, including close-ups and distance shots. But we don't stop there. We photograph the doorways, walkways, decks, patios, and outside structures, such as the garage, barn, and shed. We walk the land looking for special features to photograph, such as interesting topography, views, waterways, stone walls, gardens, gorgeous trees, rock outcroppings, etc.


In order to take the best photographs, you want the best lighting.  We try to take our photographs on sunny days, and shoot at a time when the sun is in the best location for photographing the house.  We may start by photographing the front of the house, then shoot inside the house, and finish at the back of the house, once the sun is shining on the backyard.


We don't just take photographs of what we see.  Often there is work to do to prepare the shot.  Sometimes items need to be removed before the photograph is taken, so that the photo has a "cleaner" look.  Blinds and curtains may need to be opened, and lights turned on, so that there is adequate lighting.  Once the photographs are taken, we return everything to its original state. 


Sometimes, one has to climb into a closet, bathtub, or shower to get a "fuller" shot.  Some shots are taken at eye level, some bending down, or standing on a chair.  Sometimes, one has to walk up a steep hill, wade across a stream, or climb on rocks to get the best shots.  We do whatever is needed to take those special photographs to show off the beauty of the property.


Occasionally, we need to reshoot a room or an outdoor scene because we are not satisfied with the photographs we took.  And if that house that we shot in the winter, has not sold by the spring, we need to go back and take new outdoor photographs.  Team Ulster takes photography very seriously!


That's just the photography part.  There is much more to do before the photographs are ready to be seen by the public.  To be continued .......

Is There Any Need to Buy a Bigger House?

by Flynna Sarah Molina

How many are you living in your home? Do feel your place is too small for your family? Or are you complaining about the expensive monthly amortization of your large house? You feel like it is just too big for a 3-person family. Well, these are questions that you might encounter if you think of buying a larger abode. There can be several things to consider before you can finally find the answer to your problem. It is not as easy as renovating your home. If you are on the verge of looking for the right solution, then try to read the rest of this article. This will enlighten your thoughts on everything you should know about investing in a bigger house.

Usually, there very first thing you have to take into consideration is your finances. Are you ready to engage in bigger financial obligation? Can you still manage to live a comfortable life even if you will pay a higher monthly amortization? These are some of the questions that you will have to deal with before you decide. It is very important that you assess your financial capability prior to entering into another endeavor. Bear in mind that this requires a huge amount of money. You do not want to end up being a candidate of foreclosure later on.

Knowing the exact reason why you want to move into a larger abode can also help you evaluate if it is really a valid one. If you simply want to be away from your current location, then you might want to try transferring to another house that has almost of the same size and value. This can be a lot better than pursuing your plan on getting a bigger one. It can be a shallow reason try to give up something that you have already established for a long time.

If you think that your place is too small because there will be an upcoming baby, then it can be acceptable enough. Of course kids need to have spacious area so they could move and play around. You do not want to have a messy and crowded place as soon as your baby comes out. It is best to give your kids a separate room so they can have their own privacy as well as learn to be more responsible in taking care of their own area.

Alternatively, when your reason for moving to a larger house is you simply want to reward yourself and family with a better living condition, then go for it. This is perfectly fine. Just keep in mind to make the necessary preparations before you begin the process of home buying. A good start is to contact your real estate broker and inform him about your plans of moving out. Tell him how big you want for a new house and what other features you are looking for. In this way, he can have enough ideas about what to consider as your prospects.

There is nothing wrong with planning to transfer into a bigger and better abode. If you think you are stable and capable enough to do it then go ahead. The big issue here is, if you only have limited budget and you are aiming for a larger place. This will be a bad undertaking for you. The best way you can do for now is save up so you can eventually pursue your dreams in due time.

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Quick Tips on How to Find a New Home

by Flynna Sarah Molina

Have you been sick and tired paying for your monthly rent and yet you still can not own the house? Do you already have plans to buy a new home? Looking for a new home can definitely be a tough thing to do. There are so many houses for sale out there but you need to find the right one for you. Usually, it is always your budget that will help you decide on which house to buy. But if money is not an issue for you, then you can freely look at all the available options for you. Keep in mind that this is still not as easy as you think. Here are some few and easy tips on how to look for the right new home.

As soon as you have decided to purchase a house, you start to look for the real estate broker. Or if you know someone already, you can ask for assistance. Contact him so you can discuss about the further details of your new home quest. If you happen to be living in a community where most of your relatives live there too, perhaps you can find somewhere within the boundary. This will maintain the closeness of your family.

Usually, when children begin to marry and move out from their house, they wanted to be near with their parents. This is because of the fact that you want somebody who you can run to immediately when problems arise. So this factor will help to narrow down your wide array of choices for houses for sale.

As it was said earlier, it will always be the price that can influence the decision of the homeowner. If you only are starting out or just have limited budget, then inform your broker about this issue. Though, he knows about it but it still pays if you are able to discuss matters like these to him. It will also aid him in screening the probable houses.

When you find the house that you have been wanting for, do not immediately give in to the deal. Conduct house inspection before entering into any agreement. You need to be aware of everything so you will not have regrets later on.

Aside from the location, price is something you also have to consider when you look for anew house. Depending on where you exactly want to stay, the property can either have a lower or higher value. Location can greatly affect the price of a particular house. Regardless of how simple a house can look like, if it is situated in a highly-developed city then expect it to be more expensive. That also goes the same with a very elegant home but is located in rural area, it can have a lower value.

Finding for a new house can really be a tough job. But if you know the key factors that affect your decision it will be a lot easier. You only have to discern what exactly you are looking for in your dream house. Once you have identified all of them, you can use them as your basis for assessing every possible property you can find. Do not forget to load yourself with enough patience when you do this process. Keep in mind that all your efforts and hard work will surely lead you to your dreams.

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First Time Home Buyer Mortgage Help

by Joe M. Stevenson

Are you interested in buying your first home? Buying a home is one of the most important financial decisions that you can make. It is important that you make the right decision on your first time purchase. Research is very important before you start looking around for a home. Anytime you are looking to get a first time home buyer mortgage it is important that you find the right lender for your mortgage loan.

People who are interested in purchasing a home should do a review of their credit history. Get a free copy of your credit report online and see how good your credit is. If you have a good score then you will be approved for the best interest rates. People who suffer from lower scores need to worry about lenders rejecting their loan application. If you have a lower score you might want to wait until your score has improved before applying.

After looking up your score it is important that you start saving up for a down payment. People often don't realize that most lending establishments require you to put a payment down towards your home. You will probably have to come up with a significant payment in order to get a loan approved. Saving up between 5-20% is the usual range for most down payments.

After you have saved up for a down payment you can then look for different lenders to approve your loan. Finding the right lender is important because it will ensure that you get the best interest rate on your loan. If you are looking to get a first time home buyer mortgage you can look for different mortgage brokers that are available. A good broker will be able to determine whether or not you qualify for a loan. After you have been approved you can start looking at homes to purchase.

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If you are in the market for a new home, did you know there are questions you can ask that will potentially shave several thousands of dollars off the asking price?

What's more, these questions will also help you determine if the sales person is on the side of the seller or you. In other words, if they are loyal to the seller or not.

In fact, if you are looking for a sales person to sell YOUR home, you could use these questions to test where their loyalties really lie.

If, when you ask the following questions, the sales person betrays the seller, you can be certain they will betray you as well. On the other hand, if they defend the seller and the seller price, they will defend you also, and hold firm on YOUR price.

Here are the questions:

How much will they take?

How much do you think it will sell for?

When do they need to move out?

Why are they selling?

How long has it been on the market?

Who priced this property?

What other properties are there in competition to this one?

This is really good information. Often, there can be OTHER properties in your price range which you DON'T know about, offering more features and benefits this one doesn't offer. Ask the sales person to show you these properties.
Some sales people will blame the sellers for being greedy.
If the property has been on the market for quite some time, the seller may often be inclined to consider selling at a reduced price.
Some agents will reveal confidential reasons.
The sellers deadline can be an advantage in the negotiating a better price. For example, if the deadline is only a few weeks, they may be more willing to accept a lower price.
Very often the sales persons opinion is usually less than the asking price.
Here, you can find out the BOTTOM LINE price the seller will accept.

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Home Buyers - Do Your Homework on the Finances Before You Buy!

by Paul B. Ford

Don't fall into the trap of over committing yourself to a mortgage. The stress will not be worth it. It will rob you and your family of enjoyment and peace of mind. So, before you go any further, you need to know what price range you afford to look into.

You see, when you sell your home, the price you get for it will not necessarily be the price you can spend on your new home... unless of course you have some cash stashed away somewhere.

Why? Because when you are buying or selling a home, there will be expenses which will need to paid for, such as:

Real Estate Fees

Legal Fees

Moving Costs

Loan Application Fees

Inspection Fees

So once you sell your home, don't assume that your sale price is what you will end up with in your hand. Make sure you allow for the extra costs.

If you are not sure of these costs, get in touch with your lawyer, your bank, the removal company and your real estate agent and find out how much you will need to allow for.

If you find that you may not have enough money left over to buy in the price range you desire, then talk to your bank or lending institution and find out how much you can borrow.

Find Out Your Costs BEFORE You Start Looking

Once you have done the homework on your finances, you will know how much you can comfortably afford and the highest price you can go to.

If you are buying a home with the intention of living in it for several years, don't fall into the trap of focusing only on the bargains. Buying a bargain may feel good initially but if it doesn't have the features and benefits you want, it may not be such a bargain at all.

Instead, focus on the home itself. Look for the right home for you in the price range you can comfortably afford.

It's better to pay a little bit more for a home you will be happy with, rather than end up with a cheaper home that you don't like. Because getting out of a house you DON'T like can be very costly and time consuming.

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A Realtor's Role When Buying a Home

by Nancy Niblett

When you are buying or selling a home, one of the most helpful things you can do for yourself is hire a realtor. You can always fly solo and find a home and go through all the paperwork, legalities, offers, and bank stuff alone, or you can hire a realtor and have a professional help you out throughout the entire process. This is a pretty easy choice. Not only will the realtor help you out with paperwork and whatnot, but they will also help look for homes according to your preferences and specifications. When looking to buy a home, you should definitely hire a realtor. This article will detail everything that a realtor may do for you when looking to buy a home.

The first thing that a realtor will do is get what you are looking for in a house and start looking for, and with you. This will help greatly because you may have to look at. If you do not have a realtor then you will have to look at every home you hear about, hoping it is what you want. If you do have a realtor, however then they will be able to look it up for you, and maybe even look at the house before you do, so you can know if it is what you want or not. It can take a lot of time and effort on your part without a realtor so it is best to let someone help you. During this process, the realtor will tell you everything there is to know about the property including utility costs, property value and even what schools and shopping is around the area. Without a realtor, it could be hard to come across this information, but with one, it is only one question away.

Then, after you find the home that is perfect for you, there is always a lot of money being transacted. A professional realtor will know exactly how everything is supposed to go. They will also determine fair market value for the home you are looking at. This will prevent you from getting a bad deal in buying the house. Then, after all of that is figured out they can help you get a loan. Realtors always have multiple lending options from you to choose from and they will help you pick the one that is right for you. They can also help you determine what you can and cannot afford in the home. This will help with the lending process as well. A realtor can help with anything and everything that has to do with finances or legal situations. If you ever have any questions throughout the process, do not hesitate to ask your realtor.

As you can see, there is a lot a realtor will do for you. Everything from looking for a home to handling finances, paperwork, and all the legal things can be helped with the realtor. Ask questions when you get a realtor and use all the help they can give you.

What is Real Estate Really Worth These Days?

by Teresa M. Dietrich

There is really only one true answer to that question and it has nothing to do with appraisers and comps, it has only to do with the principles involved in a sale/purchase. By definition the true market value of any property is what the buyer is willing to pay and the seller is willing to accept for it.

In the case of a traditional purchase (not a foreclosure or short sale) both the buyer and the seller want to feel as if they have "won", a check box on their victory score sheet is essential in the feel good process of buying and selling property. Buyers want to feel as if they have gotten a deal, the seller wants to feel as if they have not lost equity and value that they feel the property has.

So how do both parties win?

When considering writing an offer the sensitive and sensible buyer may want to consider what the seller is going to feel when they receive the offer. If the offer is based on actual comparables they should be included with the offer to show respect and research. If the offer is not based on comps but purely on budget, then write a letter of explanation to the seller or present this to the agent, make it respectful. Respect is key in this market where emotions are running high, equity and financial gain has been lost by sellers across the board and buyers are trying to get their foot in the door for the next big real estate rise in equity and take advantage of interest rates as well as incentives.

When selling your property and getting offers that you feel are low consider having an updated market analysis done and then ask your agent to show you comparable properties that are on the market, drive by recently sold or pending comparables, consider the true market value as if you were the buyer, look at your home or property as a product at the store, upon review in the current market statistics, days on the market, average reduction in value each month, stop and consider that the buyer has done the same and most buyers are forward pricing their offers, in other words they are offering what it will be worth in 6 months or 12 months at the current rate of decline. Also keep in mind that the improvements you have made to the property might be valuable to you personally, fit your taste to a "T" but not have any real value to the buyer - after all beauty is in the eye of the beholder in real estate as well. Some Improvements have a common value, like updated bathrooms and kitchens, but swimming pools, views and cosmetic things like faux finishes, wallpaper, window coverings and etc. are strictly personal taste and choice so they may be a detriment and not an asset, don't get hung up on the emotional content of such things, keep the big picture in mind.

There is more to negotiate that just the bottom line and sometimes this is where the seller can feel they have gained some lost equity back. A partial short term owner financing can be safely negotiated and especially in the case of interest only the seller can make back equity lost on interest, defer the total amount of gain for tax purposes and manage to sell I n a market where foreclosures and short sales are the primary properties selling. Closing costs is another area to negotiate where you may be able to win on either side, either by asking the seller to pay for all the closing costs so you have less money to put down or by the seller offering to pay because it comes off their gain and tax base. For buyers it can be advantageous to offer a lower price but pay the closing costs totally because it keeps the property tax base lower and that is a long term benefit.

At the end of the day, whether you are the buyer or the seller you will always gain most from a respectful, courteous transaction so take the proverbial walk in the other's shoes and consider their feelings before you write the offer or respond to it and you just may find that there is a way for everyone to win something and we as agents need to help that along by working as a team and bypassing the adversarial stances that can evolve so easily. Successfully closing the transaction with the buyer and seller both feeling that they have won is a win win for us as well.

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How to Be Your Agent's Number One Priority

by James McNault

You might be having a similar problem that most buyers are having today with their agents: not enough time. Not enough time to talk with you, not enough time to show you a home, not enough time to find you more homes to look at. Agents usually have to divide their time between several clients, and sometimes, they may not allot enough time for you or appear to be too busy with their other clients.

Here are some tips to make your agent prioritize you:

1. Show your motivation. Let your agent see that you are serious in buying a new home. Give your target move-in date and explain your reasons for moving. A realtor that sees a very motivated buyer will devote more time to that client.

2. Get pre-approval. Agents love hearing that their clients are already pre-approved for a loan. This gives specific information on how much you can actually spend and will tell you if there's anything that needs to be cleared up. Bring this pre-approval anytime you are meeting sellers and always come equipped with your mortgage broker's contact information. If the seller can also see that you are pre-approved, they would be more likely to entertain your offer.

3. Meet in person. While you can definitely work with an agent through phone only, it's much better to see them in person at first. This will give your realtor a face to associate with your name, and is a good opportunity to establish rapport in your business relationship. You can also show any relevant documents for review.

4. Be honest. The agent will want to know if you can really qualify for the property you are interested in. This means it's especially important not to hide any details that might affect your credibility. The agent will need a very clear idea of your needs, your situation, and any special circumstances to get you the best home possible. This also flows both ways. If you feel that your agent is not being honest with you, consider finding a replacement.

5. Keep in contact. Have all lines of communication open, phones, fax, email, etc. Discuss at the beginning how often you wish to be updated, and stick to it. This will give your agent a timetable in which to come up with something for you everytime an update is forthcoming.

6. Open up to suggestions. You would be very lucky to find a home that's 100% perfect for you. There will be a need for compromise so be open to your agent's suggestions. Be clear in what's absolutely essential and be prepared to take alternatives. Being too picky and unreasonable can make your relationship with the realtor very frustrating on you both.

Basically, you want your realtor to always keep you in mind so that your search is constantly progressing. Though your agent is working for you, it's important to give back necessary information and feedback so that they can assist you better.

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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 32

Contact Information

Photo of Laurel Sweeney Real Estate
Laurel Sweeney
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nutshell Realty
1209 State Route 213, PO Box 452
High Falls NY 12440
Office: 845-687-2200
Toll Free 877-468-5783
Fax: 845-687-4162

© 2016 BHH Affiliates, LLC. An independently owned and operated franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc.®.  Equal Housing Opportunity.