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Tax Credit for Military Families Extended

by Team Cook

The first-time home-buyer tax credit is still available for military families.  Eligible military personnel are those who were overseas for at least 90 days between Jan 1, 2009 and May of 2010. Families must qualify for a  loan and close on or before April 30, 2011.

CLICK HERE TO READ A FULL ARTICLE ON THE TAX CREDIT FOR MILITARY FAMILIES!

 

 

Vital Information for First-Time Buyers!

by Team Cook

Vital Information for First-Time Buyers!


 The first-time homebuyer Federal tax credit for $8000, record-low interest rates, and nationwide median home prices dropping to the lowest point in five years, makes this an enticing time to consider buying a home. By the way, that tax incentive isn't truly just for first-time buyers -- it's defined as those not having owned a home in the last three years. Research and knowing your options are critical. Check with your tax accountant for more details. It’s increasingly likely that Congress will extend and expand the popular home buyer tax credit, which will expire at the end of this month.

According to an article in August in the Raleigh News & Observer, 10.8 percent of buyers are motivated to buy due to Federal and state tax incentives. So far only 1.14 million buyers have filed for the credit but many more are expected to file for it on their 2010 returns. However, the National Association of Realtors reports that the first-time homebuyer figure in July was still about 10 percent below the average for the past six years.

There are many aspects to consider when buying your first home. Your price point, location, lifestyle, expert help, mortgage programs, inspections, how quickly you want/need to move, the list goes on. It can seem like an overwhelming process for first-time buyers. In fact, some shy away and continue to rent simply because they don't know who to turn to or where to begin. Today there are more resources than ever available with just the click of a mouse; however, that can create information overload! But if you take a breath and relax, I'll sort through some important factors for home buying. And even if you're a seller, it's good to review this material because it helps to remind you where first-time buyers' mindsets are when they make an offer on your home.

Give yourself more time than you think you need. Due to the housing crisis and credit crunch, the mortgage process can take even longer than it did previously. Searching for a home is averaging about 12 weeks while getting the mortgage process wrapped up can take up to 60 days, according to information released by National Association of REALTORS 2008 Profile of Buyers and Sellers.

Give yourself plenty of time to understand how much home you can afford, what kind of loan is most suitable for your needs, and, of course, plenty of time to select the home that fits your lifestyle. First-time homebuyers often don't have a lot of comparison shopping experience. Frequently they're just getting started. What is acceptable for a rental is likely different from what first-time buyers expect and accept when purchasing their first home. However, first-time buyers must understand that shopping for a home is akin to shopping for a mate... there are always some compromises that are necessary. If you don't allow enough time, you'll find that it will lead to headaches, rushed decisions, and, in the end, you may feel pressured to buy something that you have not had enough time to completely consider—maybe because you have to relocate and start your job.

Never skip an inspection. You simply can't spot everything that could be wrong with the home. While not all sellers do it, some hire an inspector to inspect the home when they list it on the market. However, the burden of the inspection typically falls on the buyer to pay for it. And the information you receive is invaluable. Hiring a certified inspector to give the home a once-over will help you discover problem areas that your agent can then negotiate for repair work or price adjustment. Also, note that the home inspections (yours and the sellers) may differ; examine both, this way you'll learn more about your potential home.

Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, a licensed home inspector says that when you get your home inspection be certain to have everything turned on. In one case, "The water valve to the house was turned to almost off. When you turned it on to regular pressure... the seller had water spurting out of almost all of the faucets because all of the O-rings, the seals, had all dried so much that they were just allowing water to spill right out of them," said Schulte-Ladbeck.

Use experts to help prepare. Having a team of experts who can expedite your search by finding the most suitable properties for you will save you endless hours of looking. Also, the right mortgage expert simplifies the loan process. You'll be guided through the home-buying process instead of becoming overwhelmed by the options, paperwork, and tasks. Using the best specialists can truly make buying your first home a wonderful experience.

Written by Phoebe Chongchua

If you are a first-time home buyer, call Team Cook today!

Possible Homebuyer Tax Credit Extension!

by Team Cook

The current deadline for first-time homebuyers to take advantage of the $8000. tax credit is November 30th of 2009.

Team Cook has had several happy customers who have taken advantage of the tax credit and purchased their first home in the Loveland, Berthoud, Ft. Collins, Johnstown, Greeley and Longmont areas.

A group of home builders has gone to Congress and asked that the tax credit be extended for another year, as well as asking the credit to include those who also may be buying their second or third home.

Should this extension pass they are predicting this would help the economic recovery by creating an additional 350,000 jobs with new & existing homes.

"Housing historically has been a key factor in helping the economy pull out of a recession," says Bernard Markstein, senior economist for the NAHB. "Extending the credit will help reduce the supply of houses for sale, stabilize prices and return housing to its rightful place in the economy."

As of today the tax credit has not been extended which means we still have to work under the November 30th deadline.  If you are a first-time homebuyer or have not purchased a home in the last 3 years, you still have time to take advantage of receiving $8,000! 

Call Team Cook so we can help you purchase today...before it's gone tomorrow! 970-532-2695!

$8000 UPFRONT!

by Team Cook

PLAN TURNS TAX CREDIT INTO CASH!

First-time home buyers will be able to get $8,000 up front instead of waiting for tax time. 

Thousands of first-time home buyers will be able to get short-term loans so they can make quick use of a new $8,000 tax credit to pay for some of the costs of buying a home. The Federal Housing Administration on Friday released details of a plan in which borrowers who use FHA loans can get advances from lenders that let them effectively receive the credit in advance, so they don't have to wait to get the money from the Internal Revenue Service.

Most Borrowers will still have to come up with the FHA's required 3-5 percent down payment, unless they work through a state or local housing agency or an approved nonprofit. Ten states have such programs in place, according to the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

But, there are many other potential uses, such as for closing costs and fees, or to beef up the down payment beyond the minimum level. The FHA, which insures about a quarter of new home loans, is projected to guarantee about 2.2 million loans in the next budget year.

Any buyer who hasn't owned a home in the past three years is considered a first-time buyer and eligible for the program.  Borrowers can claim the credit by filing an amended 2008 tax return, or they can wait for their 2009 return.

The change "will represent an enormous benefit for communities struggling to deal with an oversupply of housing." Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a statement.

The tax credit is not available to individuals with incomes above $95,000 or couples with incomes above $170,000. It expires Nov. 30.

By Alan Zibel The Associated Press


If you are a first-time home buyer or have not owned a home in the past three years, then don't miss out on this great opportunity to help you become a home owner. Team Cook has helped several buyers who took advantage of this program.  As they say, "Time is of the essence" There are only a few more months available to receive your $8000.00 dollars...and then IT'S GONE!

CALL TEAM COOK AT THE COTTAGE REALTY TODAY!

$8000 HOME BUYER TAX CREDIT

by Team Cook

DO YOU QUALIFY FOR THE HOME BUYER TAX CREDIT?

CONGRESS ENACTS BIGGER AND BETTER HOME BUYER TAX CREDIT. A tax credit of up to $8,000 is now available for qualified first-time home buyers purchasing a principal residence on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009. Unlike the tax credit enacted in 2008, the new credit does not have to be repaid. If you have more specific questions, we strongly encourage you to consult a qualified tax advisor or legal professional about your unique situation.

Who is eligible to claim the tax credit?
First-time home buyers purchasing any kind of home—new or resale—are eligible for the tax credit. To qualify for the tax credit, a home purchase must occur on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009. For the purposes of the tax credit, the purchase date is the date when closing occurs and the title to the property transfers to the home owner.


What is the definition of a first-time home buyer?
The law defines "first-time home buyer" as a buyer who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. For married taxpayers, the law tests the homeownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse.

For example, if you have not owned a home in the past three years but your spouse has owned a principal residence, neither you nor your spouse qualifies for the first-time home buyer tax credit. However, unmarried joint purchasers may allocate the credit amount to any buyer who qualifies as a first-time buyer, such as may occur if a parent jointly purchases a home with a son or daughter. Ownership of a vacation home or rental property not used as a principal residence does not disqualify a buyer as a first-time home buyer.


How is the amount of the tax credit determined?
The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000.


Are there any income limits for claiming the tax credit?
The tax credit amount is reduced for buyers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of more than $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. The tax credit amount is reduced to zero for taxpayers with MAGI of more than $95,000 (single) or $170,000 (married) and is reduced proportionally for taxpayers with MAGIs between these amounts.


What is "modified adjusted gross income"?
Modified adjusted gross income or MAGI is defined by the IRS. To find it, a taxpayer must first determine "adjusted gross income" or AGI. AGI is total income for a year minus certain deductions (known as "adjustments" or "above-the-line deductions"), but before itemized deductions from Schedule A or personal exemptions are subtracted. On Forms 1040 and 1040A, AGI is the last number on page 1 and first number on page 2 of the form. For Form 1040-EZ, AGI appears on line 4 (as of 2007). Note that AGI includes all forms of income including wages, salaries, interest income, dividends and capital gains.

To determine modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), add to AGI certain amounts such as foreign income, foreign-housing deductions, student-loan deductions, IRA-contribution deductions and deductions for higher-education costs.


If my modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is above the limit, do I qualify for any tax credit?
Possibly. It depends on your income. Partial credits of less than $8,000 are available for some taxpayers whose MAGI exceeds the phaseout limits.


Can you give me an example of how the partial tax credit is determined?
Just as an example, assume that a married couple has a modified adjusted gross income of $160,000. The applicable phaseout to qualify for the tax credit is $150,000, and the couple is $10,000 over this amount. Dividing $10,000 by $20,000 yields 0.5. When you subtract 0.5 from 1.0, the result is 0.5. To determine the amount of the partial first-time home buyer tax credit that is available to this couple, multiply $8,000 by 0.5. The result is $4,000.

Here’s another example: assume that an individual home buyer has a modified adjusted gross income of $88,000. The buyer’s income exceeds $75,000 by $13,000. Dividing $13,000 by $20,000 yields 0.65. When you subtract 0.65 from 1.0, the result is 0.35. Multiplying $8,000 by 0.35 shows that the buyer is eligible for a partial tax credit of $2,800.

Please remember that these examples are intended to provide a general idea of how the tax credit might be applied in different circumstances. You should always consult your tax advisor for information relating to your specific circumstances.


How is this home buyer tax credit different from the tax credit that Congress enacted in July of 2008?
The most significant difference is that this tax credit does not have to be repaid. Because it had to be repaid, the previous "credit" was essentially an interest-free loan. This tax incentive is a true tax credit. However, home buyers must use the residence as a principal residence for at least three years or face recapture of the tax credit amount. Certain exceptions apply.


How do I claim the tax credit? Do I need to complete a form or application?
Participating in the tax credit program is easy. You claim the tax credit on your federal income tax return. Specifically, home buyers should complete IRS Form 5405 to determine their tax credit amount, and then claim this amount on Line 69 of their 1040 income tax return. No other applications or forms are required, and no pre-approval is necessary. However, you will want to be sure that you qualify for the credit under the income limits and first-time home buyer tests.


What types of homes will qualify for the tax credit?
Any home that will be used as a principal residence will qualify for the credit. This includes single-family detached homes, attached homes like townhouses and condominiums, manufactured homes (also known as mobile homes) and houseboats. The definition of principal residence is identical to the one used to determine whether you may qualify for the $250,000 / $500,000 capital gain tax exclusion for principal residences.


I read that the tax credit is "refundable." What does that mean?
The fact that the credit is refundable means that the home buyer credit can be claimed even if the taxpayer has little or no federal income tax liability to offset. Typically this involves the government sending the taxpayer a check for a portion or even all of the amount of the refundable tax credit.

For example, if a qualified home buyer expected, notwithstanding the tax credit, federal income tax liability of $5,000 and had tax withholding of $4,000 for the year, then without the tax credit the taxpayer would owe the IRS $1,000 on April 15th. Suppose now that the taxpayer qualified for the $8,000 home buyer tax credit. As a result, the taxpayer would receive a check for $7,000 ($8,000 minus the $1,000 owed).


I purchased a home in early 2009 and have already filed to receive the $7,500 tax credit on my 2008 tax returns. How can I claim the new $8,000 tax credit instead?
Home buyers in this situation may file an amended 2008 tax return with a 1040X form. You should consult with a tax advisor to ensure you file this return properly.


Instead of buying a new home from a home builder, I hired a contractor to construct a home on a lot that I already own. Do I still qualify for the tax credit?
Yes. For the purposes of the home buyer tax credit, a principal residence that is constructed by the home owner is treated by the tax code as having been "purchased" on the date the owner first occupies the house. In this situation, the date of first occupancy must be on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009.

In contrast, for newly-constructed homes bought from a home builder, eligibility for the tax credit is determined by the settlement date.


Can I claim the tax credit if I finance the purchase of my home under a mortgage revenue bond (MRB) program?
Yes. The tax credit can be combined with the MRB home buyer program. Note that first-time home buyers who purchased a home in 2008 may not claim the tax credit if they are participating in an MRB program.


I live in the District of Columbia. Can I claim both the Washington, D.C. first-time home buyer credit and this new credit?
No. You can claim only one.


I am not a U.S. citizen. Can I claim the tax credit?
Maybe. Anyone who is not a nonresident alien (as defined by the IRS), who has not owned a principal residence in the previous three years and who meets the income limits test may claim the tax credit for a qualified home purchase. The IRS provides a definition of "nonresident alien" in IRS Publication 519.


Is a tax credit the same as a tax deduction?
No. A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in what the taxpayer owes. That means that a taxpayer who owes $8,000 in income taxes and who receives an $8,000 tax credit would owe nothing to the IRS.

A tax deduction is subtracted from the amount of income that is taxed. Using the same example, assume the taxpayer is in the 15 percent tax bracket and owes $8,000 in income taxes. If the taxpayer receives an $8,000 deduction, the taxpayer’s tax liability would be reduced by $1,200 (15 percent of $8,000), or lowered from $8,000 to $6,800.


I bought a home in 2008. Do I qualify for this credit?
No, but if you purchased your first home between April 9, 2008 and January 1, 2009, you may qualify for a different tax credit.
Is there any way for a home buyer to access the money allocable to the credit sooner than waiting to file their 2009 tax return?
Yes. Prospective home buyers who believe they qualify for the tax credit are permitted to reduce their income tax withholding. Reducing tax withholding (up to the amount of the credit) will enable the buyer to accumulate cash by raising his/her take home pay. This money can then be applied to the downpayment.

Buyers should adjust their withholding amount on their W-4 via their employer or through their quarterly estimated tax payment. IRS Publication 919 contains rules and guidelines for income tax withholding. Prospective home buyers should note that if income tax withholding is reduced and the tax credit qualified purchase does not occur, then the individual would be liable for repayment to the IRS of income tax and possible interest charges and penalties.

Further, rule changes made as part of the economic stimulus legislation allow home buyers to claim the tax credit and participate in a program financed by tax-exempt bonds. Some state housing finance agencies, such as the Missouri Housing Development Commission, have introduced programs that provide short-term credit acceleration loans that may be used to fund a downpayment. Prospective home buyers should inquire with their state housing finance agency to determine the availability of such a program in their community.
If I’m qualified for the tax credit and buy a home in 2009, can I apply the tax credit against my 2008 tax return?
Yes. The law allows taxpayers to choose ("elect") to treat qualified home purchases in 2009 as if the purchase occurred on December 31, 2008. This means that the 2008 income limit (MAGI) applies and the election accelerates when the credit can be claimed (tax filing for 2008 returns instead of for 2009 returns). A benefit of this election is that a home buyer in 2009 will know their 2008 MAGI with certainty, thereby helping the buyer know whether the income limit will reduce their credit amount.

Taxpayers buying a home who wish to claim it on their 2008 tax return, but who have already submitted their 2008 return to the IRS, may file an amended 2008 return claiming the tax credit. You should consult with a tax professional to determine how to arrange this.
For a home purchase in 2009, can I choose whether to treat the purchase as occurring in 2008 or 2009, depending on in which year my credit amount is the largest?
Yes. If the applicable income phaseout would reduce your home buyer tax credit amount in 2009 and a larger credit would be available using the 2008 MAGI amounts, then you can choose the year that yields the largest credit amount.  

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Team Cook Real Estate Services
The Cottage Realty Ltd.
908 Mountain Avenue
Berthoud CO 80513
970-532-2695
Fax: 970-532-2699

"I have truly heard and seen first-hand that Cottage Realty is wonderful, exemplary, and a real asset to the economy of Northern Colorado. I will definitely keep Cottage Realty in mind as my first choice if and when I have real estate needs in the future. Again, thank you so much. I will also refer you to friends and family who need your services. Sincerely...Stacy"