Jul 30, 2008

$7500 "Loan" from the IRS? Yes

...but you have to pay it back over a 15 year period.

To follow up my last post with this post seems odd.

As you know, we run a small group of like minded professionals in businesses that compliment Real Estate. The goal is to provide you with expert service providers in different fields so that you can trust who you are working with.

This note just in from our CPA (Certified Public Accountant) named Jeremy Stead. He's sharp, and keeps an eye on those things that impact my clients. Let me know if you would like his contact information.

An update on the new legislation passed this week:

American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008

On July 26, 2008, Congress passed the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008. President Bush signed the measure into law on July 30.

The legislation, H.R. 3221, the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act, would help stem the tide of foreclosures, stabilize local housing markets and provide incentives for first-time homebuyers. Chairman Rangel, a longtime advocate and leader for improved access to low-income housing was the author of the tax provisions contained in the bill.

“This bill received strong bipartisan support because it is the right thing to do for our country during this economic downturn,” said Chairman Rangel. “Provisions in this bill represent the most significant expansion and improvement of tax programs designed to provide affordable housing for low and moderate-income individuals since the inception of the low-income housing tax credit in 1986.”

“First, the bill would expand and improve the low-income housing tax credit, which is the largest source of federal support for the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing,” continued Rangel. “Second, the bill increases volume limits on housing bonds to finance low-income rental housing and first-time homebuyers, while also providing states with greater flexibility on how to use those bonds efficiently. These improvements will go a long way to address the shortage of affordable housing options in our cities and towns.”

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) has been responsible for the development of over 2 million rental units across the nation since its inception in 1986.

The LIHTC is the most successful, longest running Federal program for supporting the development of affordable rental housing.

Included in the package is a ten percent increase in the credits allocated among states, and an $11 billion increase in tax exempt bond authority to support single family and rental housing, as well as many changes in the tax code to make the use of the LIHTC more efficient. Housing advocates agree these changes will result in additional units of housing and, especially, more units for lower-income families.

Also included in the package is a provision to enable cities and towns to more efficiently use tax-exempt bonds in the effort to develop affordable rental housing. The provisions will enable New York City to issue significantly more bonds so that it can support the development of thousands more rental units for low-and moderate-income families.

Below are the main tax provisions included in H.R. 3221:

First-time homebuyer tax credit to assist in making a down payment on a home. This would provide individuals and families with a refundable credit (equivalent to an interest-free loan) of ten percent of the purchase price of their home (up to $7,500). Taxpayers would be required to repay any amount received under this provision to the government over 15 years in equal installments. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with adjusted gross income in excess of $75,000 ($150,000 in the case of a joint return).

Additional standard deduction for real property taxes to help homeowners who claim the standard deduction by allowing them to claim an additional standard deduction of up to $500 ($1,000 for joint filers) for State and local real property taxes. This provision applies for tax year 2008.

Temporary increase in low-income housing tax credit and simplification of the credit. The bill would increase the current limit of the credit from $2.00 for each person residing in a state by an additional ten percent. This will help put builders to work to create new options for families seeking affordable housing alternatives. The credit will also be simplified to improve its effectiveness.

Temporary increase in mortgage revenue bonds The bill would also allow for the issuance of an additional $11 billion of tax-exempt bonds to refinance sub-prime loans, provide loans to first-time homebuyers and to finance the construction of low-income rental housing.

This legislation is supported by a broad group of advocates for affordable housing.

Of course, CONSULT YOUR CPA if you have questions about this. I can't legally advise on tax issues, so please do talk to the right people.

Many thanks to Jeremy Stead for getting this data to us - and to you!

- Jim

Down Payment Assistance Programs - ACT BY OCT 1st

This news IS important.

Over the last year, 17% of all home purchases by first time buyers were made with down payment assistance programs.

The most noteworthy is the "Nehemiah" program. That program has been in the press for months, and the industry has been buzzing about it's rumored end. It looks like that is happening.

I just got this note from a colleague who works for that organization:


Dear Jim,

This week the President signed H.R. 3221, Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, into law. The bill contains a provision (SEC. 2113) which forbids FHA from insuring mortgages in which the borrower’s down payment comes from a private down payment assistance provider, beginning October 1, 2008. As of this date, the minimum down payment will be increased from 3% to 3.5%.

The consequences will be devastating! By FHA's own estimates, DPA (Down Payment Assistance) comprises nearly 40% of FHA's volume. This means more than 300,000 working class families will be locked out of homeownership in the next year alone. Communities across America will take the brunt of the $50 billion in lost real estate sales, not to mention the indirect impact on the real estate, mortgage and building sectors that will be forced to shed tens of thousands of jobs due to this dangerous legislation.


It sounds a little dramatic, which is fine. They need people in my business to take action to try and save these Down Payment Assistance programs.

The reality is tough - if a first time buyer is going to buy a home using down payment assistance THEY MUST CLOSE ESCROW BY OCTOBER 1ST. If their escrow closes on October 2nd? They are out of luck. The dollars will not be available.

What does this mean?

If you want to buy, and you were planning on getting 3rd party down payment help to cover a shortage of your own funds - we need to act quickly.

I'm not a salesman, you all know that by now. However, this may be one time when conveying a "sense of urgency" is necessary. Call me and let's get going!

- Jim

Financial Title - Leaving California

That's the rumor... another title company bites the dust. It's a shame too, as I've had good experience with that provider.

Some of you may remember Alliance Title - they went under many months ago. That loss wasn't too bad...

From what I'm hearing, open escrows will transfer over to Chicago Title. We've done business with those folks too. Let me know if any of you need help as this change unfolds.

Blogging has been minimal in July do to client needs. Sorry about that. I will get back into the swing of things shortly.

Thanks everyone!

- Jim

Jul 12, 2008

2nd Largest US Financial Institution Fails (IndyMac / Bancorp)

WOW. Return from 2 weeks on vacation to news that another huge lender is going under.
This pulled from Yahoo finance. Many thanks to that organization!

Call me if you would like to discuss the requirements a lender has to maintain deposits with the federal government. It’s not really a hard link to buying or selling your home, but more of a macro-economic discussion (which I enjoy).

Again…. another one of the largest lenders in the US “failing” + Higher energy prices + an election year…. a sign of tougher macro-economic times ahead, especially this winter.

Here is the article:

Government shuts down mortgage lender IndyMac
Saturday July 12, 7:21 am ET
By Alex Veiga, AP Business Writer

Office of Thrift Supervision steps in and closes IndyMac Bank; FDIC takes over operations

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- IndyMac Bank's assets were seized by federal regulators on Friday after the mortgage lender succumbed to the pressures of tighter credit, tumbling home prices and rising foreclosures.

The bank is the largest regulated thrift to fail and the second largest financial institution to close in U.S. history, regulators said.

The Office of Thrift Supervision said it transferred IndyMac's operations to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation because it did not think the lender could meet its depositors' demands.

IndyMac customers with funds in the bank were limited to taking out money via automated teller machines over the weekend, debit card transactions or checks, regulators said.

Other bank services, such as online banking and phone banking were scheduled to be made available on Monday.

"This institution failed today due to a liquidity crisis," OTS Director John Reich said.

The lender's failure came the same day that financial markets plunged when investors tried to gauge whether the government would have to save mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Shares of Fannie and Freddie dropped to 17-year lows before the stocks recovered somewhat. Wall Street is growing more convinced that the government will have to bail out the country's biggest mortgage financiers, whose failure could deal a tremendous blow to the already staggering economy.

The FDIC estimated that its takeover of IndyMac would cost between $4 billion and $8 billion.

IndyMac's collapse is second only to that of Continental Illinois National Bank, which had nearly $40 billion in assets when it failed in 1984, according to the FDIC.
News of the takeover distressed Alan Sands, who showed up at the company's headquarters in Pasadena, Calif., to find out when he could withdraw his funds.
"Hopefully the FDIC insurance will take care of it," said Sands, of El Monte, Calif. "I'm also kind of kicking myself for not taking care of this sooner, sooner as in the last couple of days."

A couple of dozen customers could be seen outside the building, reading fliers handed out by FDIC staff. The agency set up a toll-free number for bank customers to call.
IndyMac Bancorp Inc., the holding company for IndyMac Bank, has been struggling to raise capital as the housing slump deepens.

IndyMac had $32.01 billion in assets as of March 31.

A spokesman for the lender referred media queries to the FDIC.

The banking regulator said it closed IndyMac after customers began a run on the lender following the June 26 release of a letter by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., urging several bank regulatory agencies that they take steps to prevent IndyMac's collapse.
In the 11 days that followed the letter's release, depositors took out more than $1.3 billion, regulators said.

In a statement Friday, Schumer said IndyMac's failure was due to long-standing practices by the bank, not recent events.

"If OTS had done its job as regulator and not let IndyMac's poor and loose lending practices continue, we wouldn't be where we are today," Schumer said. "Instead of pointing false fingers of blame, OTS should start doing its job to prevent future IndyMacs."

The FDIC planned to reopen the bank on Monday as IndyMac Federal Bank, FSB.
Deposits are insured up to $100,000 per depositor.

As of March 31, IndyMac had total deposits of $19.06 billion.

Some 10,000 depositors had funds in excess of the insured limit, for a total of $1 billion in potentially uninsured funds, the FDIC said.

Customers with uninsured deposits could begin making appointments to file a claim with the FDIC on Monday. The agency said it would pay unsecured depositors an advance dividend equal to half of the uninsured amount.

During a conference call with reporters, FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair said the agency would cover all insured deposits and then try to recover its costs by selling IndyMac's assets.

"We anticipate trying to market the institution as a whole bank," Bair said. "How much money we derive from that will depend on who gets paid what."

Holders of unsecured IndyMac debt may not fully recover their investment, Bair said.
"Generally if a creditor is secured, they are at the top of the claims priority," she said. "If they are unsecured, they're pretty low on the claims priority and probably will take some type of haircut with this, but we have not had a chance to do a thorough analysis to know ... how extensive those losses will be."
IndyMac spent the last two weeks trying to reassure customers that it was not near default.

On Monday, IndyMac announced it had stopped accepting new loan submissions and planned to slash 3,800 jobs, or more than half of its work force -- the largest employee cuts in company history.

In the letter to shareholders, IndyMac Chairman and Chief Executive Michael W. Perry said the drastic measures were made in conjunction with banking regulators to improve the company's financial footing and "meet our mutual goal of keeping IndyMac safe and sound through this crisis period."

The plan was supposed to generate roughly $5 billion to $10 billion per year of new loans backed by government-sponsored mortgage companies, Perry said at the time.
But the run on its deposits ultimately short-circuited the strategy, prompting regulators to take action Friday.

Associated Press writer Raquel Maria Dillon in Pasadena contributed to this report.
FDIC IndyMac page: http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/IndyMac.html