Friday, November 13, 2009

Obama Signs the Tax Credit Extension

On Friday, President Obama signed into law an extension and expansion of the home buyer tax credit.

A tax credit of $8,000 currently exists for first-time homebuyers who will close on a home by November 30, 2009. This credit was set to expire on December 1, but because of a continued weak economy and the efforts of Realtors, it will now remain in effect through the end of June 2010. To qualify, buyers must sign a contract before April 30, 2010 and close on the property by June 30, 2010. This opens up several new possibilities for buyers and sellers for the upcoming winter and spring seasons. It continues to be a buyer’s market even though the housing market has improved significantly since October 2008.

Additionally and perhaps of even greater consequence, the signed law offers a new $6,500 tax credit for current homeowners looking to buy up. This new credit is intended to reach those who have patiently waited for the right time to buy. Those who have used their home as their primary residence for five consecutive years our of the last eight can claim the credit. They must also close by the end of June, 2010. Coupled with the extension of the first-time home buyers’ credit, this additional provision should boost the real estate market in ways beneficial to buyers, sellers, and the real estate industry.

Congress substantially increased the income limits on the tax breaks as well. Individuals earning less than $125,000 will now be eligible (currently $75,000), and married couples with income less than $225,000 who file jointly are eligible (up from $150,000). One item to note, the tax credit can only be used to purchase homes that cost less than $800,000.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also breaks down the new law in a concise and simple way.

If you have already purchased a home and intend to use the tax credit, don’t forget to file. Visit to find the necessary forms to receive the tax credit.

Friday, August 28, 2009

First-Time Buyer Tax Credit Extension Possible

Bills to extend the maximum $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, which expires Nov. 30, are pending in both the U.S. House and the Senate.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat and chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, is co-sponsor of a bill with Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson that would raise the credit amount to a maximum of $15,000.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid of Nevada favors an extension of the current credit. He was quoted by the Las Vegas Sun saying, "It's something we can get done."

Odds are that the credit will be extended and broadened to cover all buyers next year, but the chances of the amount increasing aren’t as good, observers say.

Source: Washington Post Writers Group, Kenneth R. Harney (08/22/2009)

Friday, July 3, 2009

REALTOR® Magazine-Daily News-Pending Home Sales Rise Again

Pending home sales show a sustained uptrend, rising for four consecutive months with very favorable housing affordability and a first-time buyer tax credit boosting activity, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in May, increased 0.1 percent to 90.7 from an upwardly revised reading of 90.6 in April, and is 6.7 percent higher than May 2008 when it was 85.0. The last time there were four consecutive monthly gains was in October 2004.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, cautions that there could be delays in the number of contracts that go to closing.

“Closed existing-home sales have improved but are coming in lower than expected because some contracts are delayed or falling through from the application of new appraisal rules for many transactions,” he says. “Rises in contract activity show buyers are becoming more active even as they face much more stringent loan underwriting standards. Speedy clarification of the appraisal rules could smooth a housing market recovery and support the overall economy.”

  • Northeast: The Pending Home Sales Index in the Northeast rose 3.1 percent to 80.9 in May and is 6.8 percent above a year ago.
  • Midwest : In the Midwest, the index slipped 1.3 percent to 89.2 but is 11.4 percent above May 2008.
  • South: The index in the South declined 1.7 percent to 92.6 in May but is 7.9 percent higher than a year ago.
  • West: In the West, the index rose 2.2 percent to 96.9 and is 0.7 percent above May 2008.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On February 18, 2009, President Obama announced his Making Home Affordable Program (MHA), designed to help up to 7-9 million families avoid foreclosure by restructuring or refinancing their mortgages. In doing so, the plan not only helps responsible homeowners behind on their payments or at risk of defaulting, but prevents neighborhoods and communities from being pulled over the edge too, as defaults and foreclosures contribute to falling home values, failing local businesses, and lost jobs.

For more detailed information, visit

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Welcome To Our Team

We would like to welcome Andrea Henich, Realtor, to our team!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

$6,000 Home Run Grant

What is the $6,000 Home Run Grant?

The Home Run Grant is a mortgage assistance program that grants $6,000 to home buyers who purchase a newly-constructed, never-occupied, primary, single-family residence in Utah. The Home Run Grant is funded by the Housing Relief Restricted Special Revenue Fund, established by Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, the Utah State Legislature, and Utah Housing Corporation.

Who is eligible to receive a $6,000 Home Run Grant?

Home buyers must meet the following income restrictions:
-Single person, $75,000
-Married couple, $150,000
-If more than one unmarried person is taking title to the Eligible Home, each such single person is subject to the $75,000 income limit.
-Home buyers must occupy the purchased home as a primary, permanent residence no later than 30 days after closing.
-If home buyers need a mortgage loan to purchase the home, the loan must be a fixed interest rate, amortizing mortgage loan with a term of 30 years or less. Cash buyers can also qualify by contacting Utah Housing Corporation directly.
-The Home Run Grant Program is effective for home purchases closed after a Home Run Grant Commitment has been issued for that specific transaction. Unfortunately the funds may not be used for homes purchased without the Home Run Grant Commitment.

What homes can be purchased with a $6,000 Home Run Grant?

Homes must be newly-constructed, single-family residences that have a Certificate of Occupancy or a Final Inspection from an applicable municipality. They cannot be previously-occupied. Eligible property types include single-family detached homes, condominiums, planned unit developments (PUD), twin homes, town homes and manufactured homes permanently affixed to a foundation.

How does a home buyer apply for a $6,000 Home Run Grant?

Home buyers should tell their home builder, realtor and mortgage lender that they want to apply for a Home Run Grant. Mortgage lenders are the key link between a home buyer and the Home Run Grant. The mortgage lender assists a home buyer to provide necessary information to secure the grant from Utah Housing Corporation. A home buyer does not work directly with Utah Housing Corporation (unless it is a cash buyer). 

How does a home buyer get the Home Run Grant funds?

To get a first-come, first-served written commitment for the Grant, a home buyer must:
Enter into a written contract to purchase a newly-constructed, single-family home.
Contact a lender and obtain final underwriting approval for any needed financing.
Have your mortgage lender furnish required documentation to Utah Housing Corporation for the Grant. Utah Housing will reserve the $6,000 Grant for 30 days.

What type of loan can a home buyer use to purchase the home?

If a home buyer needs a mortgage loan, it must be a fixed interest rate loan with a term of 30 years or less. Loans may be obtained from any lender qualified to make mortgage loans under Utah law. Examples of qualifying loans include:
* Conventional
* FHA, VA, or Rural Housing
* Utah Housing Corporation’s FirstHome and FirstHome Plus

Do I have to be a first-time home buyer to get a Home Run Grant?

No. Home Run Grants are available to all home buyers who meet the income restrictions of $75,000 for singles, $150,000 for couples and, if more than one single person takes title, the $75,000 limit applies to each such single person. 

Can the $6,000 Home Run Grant be combined with the new $8,000 federal tax credit?

Yes, if a home buyer is a first-time home buyer and meets the independent criteria of both the federal and Home Run programs, they may take advantage of both. The $6,000 Home Run Grant is available to both those who are first-time home buyers as well as those who previously owned a home. The $8,000 federal tax credit is available only to first-time home buyers.

How many Home Run Grants are available to home buyers?

A total of approximately 1,600 grants are available. Each grant is $6,000. Only one grant can be used for the purchase of each home. Home Run Grants are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to qualified home buyers. The approximate number of remaining grants will be posted on the UHC web page at

Is the Home Run Grant taxable?

The Home Run Grant may be taxable as income under federal and state tax laws. UHC has requested a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about whether or not a Home Run Grant will be taxable. UHC does not give tax advice and home buyers should review the ruling and other pertinent tax information in connection with the preparation of their 2009 tax returns.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Welcome To Our Team

Blackstone Real Estate would like to welcome Sue Hildreth, Realtor!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Home Maintenance Tips -

Repair the Ravages of Winter

As Spring approaches, keep these tips to freshen the outside of your home.

  • Prune your trees and shrubs.
  • Head to the shed and do a “tool inventory” to make sure you have all the items you'll need in the months ahead. Inspect the tools you already have. For example, test your hoses for leaks.
  • Spring is a good time to paint fences and the exterior of your home, especially wood surfaces, to protect them from summer heat and sun. Wood decks should also be sealed once a year.
  • Now that the heating season is over, have a chimney sweep clean fireplaces and flues.
  • Inspect door and window screens for tears. You can often repair small tears using a kit from your local hardware store. This will prevent insects from getting into your home, and keep you comfortable on the screened porch.
  • Have your gutters cleaned.

Excerpted from

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

$6,000 Home Run Grant


What is the $6,000 Home Run Grant?

The $6,000 Home Run Grant is a mortgage assistance program that grants $6,000 to home buyers who finance the purchase of a newly constructed, never occupied residence in Utah using a 30-year fixed rate mortgage.  The Home Run Grant is funded by the Housing Relief Restricted Special Revenue Fund, established by Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, the Utah State Legislature, and Utah Housing Corporation.   


Who is eligible to receive a $6,000 Home Run Grant?

·        The Home Run Grant is available to any Utah home buyer who meets the following income restrictions:

o       Single person, $75,000

o       Married couple, $150,000

·        Buyers must occupy the purchased home as a primary, permanent residence no later than 30 days after closing.







What homes can be purchased with a $6,000 Home Run Grant?

Homes must be recently constructed. They cannot be previously occupied.



How does a home buyer apply for a $6,000 Home Run Grant?

Home buyers should tell their home builder, realtor and mortgage lender that they want to apply for a Home Run Grant. Mortgage lenders are the key link between the home buyer and the Home Run Grant. The mortgage lender assists the home buyer to provide necessary information to secure the grant from Utah Housing Corporation.   The home buyer does not work directly with Utah Housing Corporation.     


What type of loan can home buyers use to purchase the home?

Buyers must qualify for a 30 year, fixed interest rate loan of their choice to finance the purchase of the home.  Examples of qualifying loans include:

*        Conventional

*        FHA, VA, or Rural Housing

*        Utah Housing Corporation’s FirstHome and FirstHome Plus

*        Federal Home Loan Bank’s HomeStart


What mortgage lenders can assist homebuyers to secure a $6,000 Home Run Grant?

Any mortgage lender qualified to make mortgage loans under Utah law can assist homebuyers to secure the Home Run grant.


Can the $6,000 Home Run Grant be combined with the new federal $8,000 tax credit?

Yes.  Home buyers can take advantage of both the Home Run $6,000 Housing Grant and the $8,000 federal tax credit.  The $6,000 grant is available at the time the home is purchased.


How many Home Run Grants are available to home buyers?

A total of 1,666 grants are available. Each grant is $6,000.  Only one grant can be used for each home purchase.  Home Run Grants are distributed on a first-come first-serve basis to qualified home buyers through the home buyer’s mortgage lender. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What to Do When the Sale Price Leaves You Short

If you're thinking of selling your home, and you expect that the total amount you owe on your mortgage will be greater than the selling price of your home, you may be facing a short sale. A short sale is one where the net proceeds from the sale won't cover your total mortgage obligation and closing costs, and you don't have other sources of money to cover the deficiency. A short sale is different from a foreclosure, which is when your lender takes title of your home through a lengthy legal process and then sells it.

1. Consider loan modification first. If you are thinking of selling your home because of financial difficulties and you anticipate a short sale, first contact your lender to see if it has any programs to help you stay in your home. Your lender may agree to a modification such as: Refinancing your loan at a lower interest rate; providing a different payment plan to help you get caught up; or providing a forbearance period if your situation is temporary. When a loan modification still isn’t enough to relieve your financial problems, a short sale could be your best option if:

  • Your property is worth less than the total mortgage you owe on it.
  • You have a financial hardship, such as a job loss or major medical bills.
  • You have contacted your lender and it is willing to entertain a short sale.

2. Hire a qualified team. The first step to a short sale is to hire a qualified real estate professional and a real estate attorney who specialize in short sales. Interview at least three candidates for each and look for prior short-sale experience. Short sales have proliferated only in the last few years, so it may be hard to find practitioners who have closed a lot of short sales. You want to work with those who demonstrate a thorough working knowledge of the short-sale process and who won't try to take advantage of your situation or pressure you to do something that isn't in your best interest. A qualified real estate professional can:

  • Provide you with a comparative market analysis (CMA) or broker price opinion (BPO).
  • Help you set an appropriate listing price for your home, market the home, and get it sold.
  • Put special language in the MLS that indicates your home is a short sale and that lender approval is needed (all MLSs permit, and some now require, that the short-sale status be disclosed to potential buyers).
  • Ease the process of working with your lender or lenders.
  • Negotiate the contract with the buyers.
  • Help you put together the short-sale package to send to your lender (or lenders, if you have more than one mortgage) for approval. You can’t sell your home without your lender and any other lien holders agreeing to the sale and releasing the lien so that the buyers can get clear title.

3. Begin gathering documentation before any offers come in. Your lender will give you a list of documents it requires to consider a short sale. The short-sale “package” that accompanies any offer typically must include: 

  • A hardship letter detailing your financial situation and why you need the short sale
  • A copy of the purchase contract and listing agreement
  • Proof of your income and assets
  • Copies of your federal income tax returns for the past two years

4. Prepare buyers for a lengthy waiting period. Even if you're well organized and have all the documents in place, be prepared for a long process. Waiting for your lender’s review of the short-sale package can take several weeks to months. Some experts say:

  • If you have only one mortgage, the review can take about two months.
  • With a first and second mortgage with the same lender, the review can take about three months.
  • With two or more mortgages with different lenders, it can take four months or longer.

When the bank does respond, it can approve the short sale, make a counteroffer, or deny the short sale. The last two actions can lengthen the process or put you back at square one. (Your real estate attorney and real estate professional, with your authorization, can work your lender’s loss mitigation department on your behalf to prepare the proper documentation and speed the process along.)

5. Don't expect a short sale to solve your financial problems. Even if your lender does approve the short sale, it may not be the end of all your financial woes. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You may be asked by your lender to sign a promissory note agreeing to pay back the amount of your loan not paid off by the short sale. If your financial hardship is permanent and you can’t pay back the balance, talk with your real estate attorney about your options.
  • Any amount of your mortgage that is forgiven by your lender is typically considered income, and you may have to pay taxes on that amount. Under a temporary measure passed in 2007, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and Debt Cancellation Act, homeowners can exclude debt forgiveness on their federal tax returns from income for loans discharged in calendar years 2007 through 2012. Be sure to consult your real estate attorney and your accountant to see whether you qualify.
  • Having a portion of your debt forgiven may have an adverse effect on your credit score. However, a short sale will impact your credit score less than foreclosure and bankruptcy.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Why You Should Work With a REALTOR®

Not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS®. The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. Here are five reasons why it pays to work with a REALTOR®.

1. You’ll have an expert to guide you through the process. Buying or selling a home usually requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multi-page settlement statements. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.

2. Get objective information and opinions. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They’ll also be able to provide objective information about each property. A professional will be able to help you answer these two important questions: Will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?

3. Find the best property out there. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your REALTOR® to find all available properties.

4. Benefit from their negotiating experience. There are many negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings, or equipment. In addition, the purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.

5. Property marketing power. Real estate doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. In fact, a large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioner’s contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, and family. When a property is marketed with the help of a REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

6. Real estate has its own language. If you don’t know a CMA from a PUD, you can understand why it’s important to work with a professional who is immersed in the industry and knows the real estate language.

7. REALTORS® have done it before. Most people buy and sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. And even if you’ve done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS®, on the other hand, handle hundreds of real estate transactions over the course of their career. Having an expert on your side is critical.

8. Buying and selling is emotional. A home often symbolizes family, rest, and security — it’s not just four walls and a roof. Because of this, home buying and selling can be an emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues most important to you.

9. Ethical treatment. Every member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® makes a commitment to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a customer of a REALTOR®, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters. It is mandatory for REALTORS® to take the Code of Ethics orientation and they are also required to complete a refresher course every four years.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Housing Bill

House Bill Aims to Stabilize Housing, Addresses Foreclosures and Stimulus

Washington, January 09, 2009

A bill that embraces the need for righting the housing market—the first big step toward economic recovery—was introduced Friday in the U.S. House of Representatives.

H.R. 384, The TARP Reform and Accountability Act, was offered by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chair of the House Financial Services Committee. The bill would require the Treasury Department to develop a program, outside the Troubled Asset Relief Program, to stimulate demand for home purchases and lower property inventories, by making affordable mortgages available for qualified buyers through interest rate buydowns, a priority of the National Association of Realtors®.

The measure would amend the TARP provisions of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 to make significant steps to reduce foreclosures, strengthen accountability and close loopholes. Treasury could consider the impact of areas with the highest inventories of foreclosed properties.

NAR President Charles McMillan was heartened by the legislation that would move the housing market forward. “The bill proposed by Chairman Frank is an important first step toward launching a real estate recovery. Housing has always led this country out of economic downturns, and this bill recognizes that the key to bolstering the overall economy is creating stability in the real estate markets. With foreclosure relief, improving the Hope for Homeowners Plan, and expanding TARP to support commercial real estate loans and commercial mortgage-backed securities, this legislation will help create housing stability.”

“By directing the Treasury Department to increase the availability of affordable mortgages rates for qualified home buyers and to offer reduced rate loans designed to stimulate demand for home purchases and clear inventory of properties, Chairman Frank has responded to the most critical issues facing potential homeowners," McMillan said.

Foreclosure relief, using the second half of the $700 billion previously authorized by Congress, would be conditioned on stipulation that $50 billion be used for foreclosure mitigation and calls for a plan to be put into action by March 15. That would allow the Treasury to begin committing the remaining TARP funds for the plan no later than April 1.

The plan would require that foreclosure assistance must apply only to owner-occupied residences. Further, the bill would provide liability protection for loan servicers who engage in loan modifications. Such servicers would have to report regularly to the Treasury.

In addition, the Treasury would be authorized to provide support for commercial real estate loans and commercial mortgage-backed securities, an NAR priority.

NAR has been urging the incoming Obama administration, as well as Congress, to address critical housing needs. “This legislation is a great beginning, but more needs to be done. We must continue to bring potential homebuyers into the market by ensuring low mortgage interest rates, making the higher 2008 conforming loan limits permanent, and applying the $7,500 tax credit to all homebuyers and making it non-repayable,” McMillan said.

Copyright National Association of REALTORS®, Reprinted from with permission