Burglary Prevention Tips

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burglaryWith the busy Holiday Season upon us, many will be rushing from one place to another; doing chores, shopping, visiting family and friends.  This is also the time when we hear more about cars or houses being burglarized. We were burglarized many years ago by local teenagers.  Not only did we lose many items that were sentimental to us, the sense of being violated is something you don’t ever want to experience!

Novato Police Department sent out a Press Release back in 2015 with Tips on Burglary Prevention.  I thought this is a good time to share it with neighbors.


The Novato Police Department is committed to working with our residents to provide a safe and secure community. We would like our residents to be well informed partners in our crime prevention efforts.

Every 15 seconds in the US, a home burglary takes place, but there are so many things we can do to dramatically reduce the chances of falling victim.

Some of those home burglaries will be by scam artists who previously checked the homes out by posing as legitimate visitors, talking their way in and maybe even opening a window in a bathroom for easy access when they return.

Some will be opportunists, who just happen to spot an easy target in a neighborhood — like an open door or window.

And yet others will be experienced crooks who know how to “case a joint” without being noticed, and know all the tricks of the trade for breaking and entering.

The average time it takes for a burglar to break into a home is less than a minute, and the amount of time they spend inside is little more than 10 minutes — though, posing as contractors or furniture removers, they’ve been known to take much longer and completely empty a home.

15 Burglary Prevention Tips

  1. Be a visibly nosy neighbor. Let anyone walking the neighborhood or sitting in a parked car see you watching them.  Make a note of car license plates and if anyone behaves suspiciously or stays in their car for a lengthy period, call Novato Police at 415-897-1122.
  2. Tell close neighbors you trust if you plan to be away or expect any deliveries. If they’re in the know they’re more likely to notice something you didn’t mention and spot unexpected callers at your home.
  3. If you are going away, use timers to switch lights on and off at random, cancel newspapers, bring in your garbage cans, and put a hold on your mail deliveries — or, to guard your schedule, arrange for the trusted neighbor to collect them.
  4. Having a dog is a huge deterrent. Ironically, burglars are far more likely to avoid a house with a small dog than a big one — small dogs tend to be nervous and less easy to trick into calming down. They’re less trustful and bark louder and longer.
  5. Take a walk around your home, inside and out, to figure where the weakest link in your security might be — like leaving a window open in a secluded spot. High-risk places include the door from your garage into the house, back doors, side “breezeways” where a burglar would not be seen, and large shrubs close to the residence where thieves could hide.
  6. Take action to increase protection in these vulnerable places — like installing keyed window locks and deadbolts on doors and using toughened glass in windows and doors. Remove those shrubs. If you leave windows open on the second floor, make sure your extension ladder is locked away.
  7. Be wary about who you allow into your home and how much information you give about your belongings and schedule. This applies even with neighbors you don’t know or fully trust. Don’t leave valuables in view, inside or from outside the house.
  8. If you’re able, vary the times you leave and return home. If your household has several cars, vary who drives them, making it more difficult for an observer to know who is home and when.
  9. Make it tough for home burglary prowlers to know whether they’re under surveillance. Fake cameras can be good — but only if they could be taken for the real thing, not cheap plastic devices with flashing lights, which home burglars easily identify. Fake security stickers or signs don’t work either, but, if you have an alarm, real stickers and signs work.
  10. Control access to and around your property. Consider motion-activated lights. Neighborhood Watch, Video Surveillance, No Parking, and No Outlet signs can be effective against home burglary too. This way, would-be thieves know you mean business.
  11. Motion-activated cameras are another powerful weapon — both as a home burglary deterrent and, linked to a computer (and, better yet, to a home network), to record images of your unwelcome visitors. These days, these devices are inexpensive. Network-linked cameras costing around $85 can even email images so you have an off-site backup (it sends images automatically to a separate email account, so even if the camera is disabled, you still have the pictures online).
  12. An alarm system, preferably with a visible box outside the house, will not only deter crooks but sound an immediate alert of a home burglary. You might seriously consider a system that’s monitored 24/7 by a security company who will quickly notify law enforcement of an incident.
  13. Gates, both to your property and in gated communities, can also be a home burglary deterrent.
  14. Avoid creating temptation. Don’t leave things like lawn mowers and bikes unattended outside; lock them up. Close your garage. Inside, burglars are more likely to go for “middle of the road” valuables than expensive jewelry and appliances — because they’re easier to redeem for cash.
  15. Don’t hide a key. Home burglary crooks know all those “secret” places.

Remember the three L’s of Crime Prevention: LIGHTS, LOCKS, & the LAW!

LIGHT up your home, LOCK your doors, and call the LAW when you see something suspicious.

Refinance while Underwater? HARP Expanded to Reach More Borrowers

A ray of hope has just been offered to some homeowners with properties that are seriously upside down, according to the California Association of Realtors.

In order to help a broader range of distressed homeowners and offer relief to the housing market, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced on Oct. 24 that the mortgage relief program HARP — the Home Affordable Refinance Program — has just been expanded.

Per FHFA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have helped approximately 9 million families refinance into a lower cost or more sustainable mortgage product, approximately 10 percent of those via HARP. HARP is unique in that it is the only refinance program that enables borrowers who owe more than their home is worth to take advantage of lower interest rates and other refinancing benefits.

One of the biggest hurdles for borrowers who are current on their home loans and are considering refinance is the fact that the equity on their house is too low to qualify for a refinance. Until now, Fannie Me and Freddie Mac would only allow fixed-rate mortgages if the borrower’s property stays under 125 percent loan-to-value.  This requirement prevented many upside-down borrowers from refinancing to take advantage of the current low interest rates that they desperately need.  The enhanced HARP guideline lifted that restriction.

Other HARP program enhancements effectively reduced certain fees associated with the refinance as well as eliminated the need for a new property appraisal if the FHFA has a reliable automated valuation model estimate.  Both allowed cash strapped borrowers the ability to refinance without the steep fees a refinance might require.  The HARP program, schedule to expire at the end of 2011 has now been extended until the end of 2013.  New federal guidelines for the HARP changes should be released to mortgage lenders and servicers by Nov. 15.

According to the California Association of Realtors, the basic eligibility requirements for an enhanced HARP loan are as follows:

  • Existing mortgage loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  Borrowers can check whether they have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan by going to http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/get-assistance/loan-look-up/Pages/default.aspx.
  • Existing mortgage loan must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before June 1, 2009.
  • Existing mortgage loan cannot have been refinanced under HARP previously (except for Fannie Mae loans refinanced between March and May 2009).
  • Current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be more than 80%.
  • Existing mortgage loan must be current, with no late payments in the past six months, and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.

Words of Caution:  Remember my previous blog about SCAMs – Too Good To be True, Then Beware? There are a lot of scammers out there to take advantage of distressed homeowners at their most vulunable stage.  Before engaging services that promise to modify your loans or save your home from being foreclosed on, make sure you check out the FTC Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule that outlaws advanced fees and false claims and requires clear disclosures from the servicers.

More Information About HARP:

More information about HARP is available from FHFA.

Other Resources for Distressed Homeowners:

Marin County Property Tax Deadline is Friday, December 10th

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Are you like most of the other property owners who like to wait until the last day to pay your property tax?

The deadline for payment of the first installment of the 2010-11 county property tax bill is 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10.

Payments must be postmarked by Friday or delivered to the tax collector’s office at the Civic Center no later than 5 p.m. that day to avoid a 10-percent penalty.

Property taxes may be paid online at http://www.co.marin.ca.us/paytax or by phone at 800-985-7277 with either a credit card or electronic funds transfer.

The second tax payment is due April 10.

For more information, including programs helping those who cannot afford their tax bill, call the tax collector’s office at 499-6133 or visit http://www.co.marin.ca.us/taxes.

Living Green? Small Space? Check out the Space Saving Furniture!

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According to Kentfield, Marin county Architect, Sarah Robinson, an Alumni of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture; that Being Green is not just to tear down and build from scratch but it’s about “Seeing the untapped potential that already exists.”

“Green Living” is not limited to only use ‘Green’ products such as energy efficient appliances, water saving faucets, shower heads, toilets, bamboo flooring, recycled water, drought resistant plants, solar energy, double/triple paned windows, reuse building material, no VOC paint, and such.

Today, a friend of my shared a video of space saving furniture, which I thought would fit in nicely with green minded, sustainable living friends. these furniture has intelligent design where each piece of furniture has several purposes and fits in a tight space, are artistic an allow for smaller space thus reduce footprint of the new building design.

On a practical side, for friends or college kids who live in small apartments, houses, dormitories; these furniture allow them to have better quality of life while dealing with the tight space.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I do

_____________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury Real Estate 
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frank Howard Allen Realtors 
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.   Starter Home to Luxury Property.  REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architectural Distinctive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange.

Prepare Your (Marin County) Home for the High Wild Fire Season – An Annual Exercise!

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Living in Marin and Sonoma Count, San Francisco North Bay, and for that matter, the San Francisco Bay Area as well as the entire state of California, we are constant on “High Fire Alert” during the dry summer seasons.

With the state budget cut, which deeply affected the state, county park as well as municipal fire department budgets, it is with even more urgency that homeowners heed to the advise and guidelines on how to prepare yours homes for the fire season during the next few months.

In 2008, San Francisco Chronicle published an article highlighing what builders in the Oakland Hills did while rebuilding homes after the 1991 Oakland Fire. The Oakland Fire “ultimately killed 25 people and injured 150 others. The 1,520 acres (6.2 km²) destroyed included 2,843 single-family dwellings and 437 apartment and condominium units. The economic loss has been estimated at $1.5 billion.”

Along with the article, S.F. Chronicle included a partial list of checklist developed by (of all the places) Travis County, Texas about what how to prepare for a fire:

I am following suit and quoting below:

Wildfire Preparedness Check List

The more “yes” answers you have, the more prepared you are in the event of a wildfire threat.

The House

  • Fire-resistant roof i.e. metal, tile, composition?
  • Non-flammable siding materials?
  • Home is located down-slope?
  • Wooden deck facing or overhanging level ground?
  • Large glass windows, facing level ground?
  • Deck, porch, vents or house screened to keep sparks out?
  • Chimney extending above the roofline?
  • Chimney spark arrester in place?
  • Roof and gutters clean of debris?

Around the House

  • A fire defensible space (D-space) zone of 30 – 100 ft?
  • Adequate clearance of weeds, tall grasses and brush?
  • Leaves raked?
  • Trees pruned 10 ft up from base of trunk?
  • Debris cleared from beneath trees and near structures?
  • Tree limbs pruned at least 10 ft from roof or within 15 ft laterally from chimney?
  • House location or address clearly marked (3 inch letters)?
  • Small amounts of mulch used near wooden structures?
  • Firewood and other burnable items stored at least 30 ft from the house?

Access

  • Easy access to home by emergency vehicles?
  • Road grade less than 15% (not steep)?
  • Road wide and accommodating to two-way traffic?
  • Road straight with wide turns?
  • Large areas for vehicles to turn around?
  • Short driveway from main road?
  • Home area level and easily plowed or raked for fire line?
  • Multiple roads into and out of developed area for safe and easy access and evacuation?

Water Supply

  • Pressurized hydrants available?
  • Non-pressurized or dry hydrants available?
  • Water sources such as ponds or streams accessible?
  • Power lines buried and not susceptible to fire?
  • Well pumps maintained with uninterrupted electricity?

Ten Quick and Easy Steps to Prepare for a Wildfire

1. Cut grass and weeds, rake leaves and pine needles and remove yard debris and branches.

2. Relocate woodpile and left over building materials at least 30′ from house.
NOTE: It is best to not locate the woodpile directly uphill or downhill of any structure.

3. Signs, address and access are well marked, and visible both night and day. Reflective numbering/lettering that is 3″ or larger is recommended.

4. Prune dead and low-hanging tree limbs 6 to 10 feet from the ground around house. Remove all dead vegetation in brush and shrubbery.

5. Store all gas, oil and other chemicals away from the house. This includes propane tanks on BBQ pits.

6. Keep roof and gutters free from leaves and needles.

7. Enclose spaces under porches, decks, foundations and overhangs, and roof/attic vent openings with 1/8″ metal screening.

8. Have garden hoses connected on all sides of your house.

9. Place tools (such as ladders, shovels, rakes and hoes) for easy access to fire fighters.

10. Check driveway for adequate clearance for emergency vehicles. (Both height and width).

_____________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury Real Estate 
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frank Howard Allen Realtors 
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.   Starter Home to Luxury Property.  REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architectural Distinctive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange.

Federal Tax Credit for First Time Homebuyer Closing Deadline Extends to 09/30/10

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Updated July 1, 2010 – US Senate Passed this Bill and it is now at President Obama’s to be signed.

June 29, 2010 – US House extends Closing Deadline for First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit to 09/30/10 if they are in contract as of 04/30/10.

The homebuyer has to be in contract before 04/30/2010 and now close by 09/30/10 (instead of 06/30/10). This bill is going to the congress and is expected to pass.

This is in part due to the slow process by the lenders and loan servicers during the loan approval and loan funding process where two months escrow might not suffice to close escrow. However, I also fee the benefits to First Time Homebuyer in contract on Short Sale properties due to the notorious slowness in lender approval of short sales.

Hopefully the ones that are in contract on short sale as of 04/30/10 will also get the up to $8,000 tax credit if they close by 09/30/10. There is also the California Tax Credit of up to $10,000 which expires 12/31/10 – unlike the federal tax credit, this tax credit has to be claimed over a three year period.

_____________________________________________________

Sylvia Barr

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Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury Real Estate
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frank Howard Allen Realtors
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.   Starter Home to Luxury Property.  REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architectural Distinctive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange.

Guideline for Mowing Grass on Marin County Open Space District

APTOPIX WILDFIRESHeading into the High Fire Season in Marin County, this seems to be a good time to reintroduce the guideline on how to mow the grass in Marin County, especially the properties that are next to Open Space. 

The guideline was established by the the Marin County Department of Parks and Open Space.

This letter is especially critical at this time of year when fire risk is increasing; especially since Marin county is agian, facing a very dry summer season.

The information below can be found on Marin County website Wildfire Safety Information as well.

Excerpt from Marin County Open Space District:

GUIDELINES FOR MOWING GRASS ON MARIN COUNTY OPEN SPACE DISTRICT LAND ADJACENT TO YOUR HOME

It is extremely important that your clearance work does not start a fire and that you follow the guidelines below:

Confirm that the property you want to mow is owned by the Marin County Open Space District, not your neighbor or another agency. Information on lot lines and property ownership is available at the County Assessor-Recorder’s Office (499-7215, or go to http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/AR/main/index.cfm) and the County Community Development Agency (499-6269, or go to http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/CD/main/index.cfm).

  • Mow only grass. If you wish to cut brush or trees on Open Space District lands, you will need a permit; please call the District field office at 415-507-2816.
  • Never mow under high fire hazard RED FLAG conditions; call 415-499-7191 for current conditions.
  • In the heat of summer, mow early in the morning or during the evening when it is cooler and less likely that you could start a fire. Use extra caution with power mowers or other spark-producing tools.
  • Keep a 5-pound “ABC” fire extinguisher AND a fully charged garden hose at the work site while mowing or other work is taking place.
  • Do not use metal mowing heads on power scythes (weed whips) as they can spark from contact with rocks.
  • Make sure spark arrestors are in place and functioning.
  • Do not lay power tools in dry grass where hot metals may ignite flammable vegetation.
  • Re-fuel tools away from vegetation — on paved surfaces or cleared areas. Store gasoline away from site.
  • If possible, have someone spot you (keep a close watch) while you are working to watch for problems.
  • Watch for hikers and other open space visitors; cease work until they are clear from the work area.

Information on the Open Space District is available on the internet at: http://www.marinopenspace.org.

For guidelines on fire protection, call your local fire agency or check the internet:

_________________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Real Estate
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frankk Howard Allen Realtors
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

 MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa. Starter Home to Luxury Property. REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architecural Distictive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange. Chinese Realtor.

Millworks Novato Grand Opening brings New Dimension to Town!

mw_logo_rgbA controversial project due to the sheer size, the location and what it is and what it is not (a bit vague?  Ask me!), Millworks Novato had it’s grand opening today (April 25th).  What a pleasant surprise the development is!

As a Novato resident and a Realtor; although I missed the design, approval phases of the project; I, as many Novatans,  have watched with great interest and concerns in the progress of the building.   Today, I got to tour Millworks with my friend, Barbara.  We came away quite impressed!

Millworks – According to the developer, Millworks Novato is “Nestled among the North Bay’s rolling hills landscape, charming Old Town Novato is the home to Millworks, and environmentally sustainable and pedestrian-friendly new home community”. 

Millworks Novato

Millworks Novato

The building, sits atop the coming-soon Whole Foods,  located at the east end of Old Town Novato, consists of 124 flats and townhomes.  The homes are designed to be a combination of 1 bedroom/1 bath, 2 bedrooms/2 baths flats and 2 bedrooms/2 baths plus Den Flats. 

Amentities — Other than a few larger units on selected locations; first and second floors are mostly for Whole Foods and parking for Whole Foods and third floor is mostly for residents parking.  In addition, there is a library, a fitness center and a social room for gatherings.

millworksinterior

'Roof Garden - Living Roof' on 4th Floor

Roof Garden – One of the Millworks’ most unique design is the rooftop garden on the 4th floor where the interior units all have patios on the ‘Roof Garden’.  This Living Roof – centrally located with open sky courts – have living gardens and flag stone patiors, gives the 4th floor residents a sense of being on the ground floor which is a very appealing, surprising feature!

Views Galore – For outdoor lovers, the floor to ceiling windows brings tons of sunshine and the breathtaking surrounding Novato hill views inside.  I can only imagine how beautiful the night time views will be with the twinkling lights from the distance.

Kitchen and Living Room

Kitchen and Living Room

The Interiors – Millworks have open floor plan where kitchen opens into living and dining rooms (area – depending on plan).  Kitchens have granite slab counter tops, break fast bar, Bosch stainless steel, Energy Star appliances, Kohler sinks and faucets.  Bathrooms have Kohler faucets, Marble slab counters and surrounds on bathtubs.  Dual flush toilets conserve water.   All units are equipped with air conditioners (although I always say that we really don’t need that in Novato – the breeze from the ocean cools down most hot days by night).  Schlage hardware, recessed lighting, sustainable flooring, cable ready.

Green Features at Millworks

Green Features at Millworks

Building and Living Green – Millworks is also designed with ‘Building Green’ in mind as Sustainable is a big concern for environmental minded Marin Residents.  The building is designed with

  • Money Saving features such as emergency efficiencies while determining the direction of the building (South facing), insulation grades,  dual paned windows, doors, Energy Star appliances..
  • Preserving Health – such Cabinet doors are free of formaldehyde, none-toxic and low VOC Materials are used throughout
  • Environmentally Sustainable– Pre-engineered lumber, waste recycling during construction, Build-in recycling centers, sustainable flooring’s and cross ventilation windows are some example of the environmentally friendly design.

The Units and Pricing – One Bedroom / One Bath unit (812 sf to 883sf) starts from the low $400,000s; Two Bedroom / Two Baths Flats (1260 sf to 1360 sf) starts from the mid $400,000s and the Two Bedrooms, Two Bath plus Den Falts (1452 sf to $1595sf) starts from the high $500,000.  

HOA Fees – HOA fees ranging from $393 to $494 monthly.  An interesting chart provided by Millworks compares  HOA fee to the average single-family detached homowner’s regular maintenance cost per year, and of course, Millworks HOA seems more reasonable according to the chart – email me if you are interested!

Keep in mind the price includes standard features, and any and all upgrades will be additional costs to the buyers.

As a baby boomer and looking forward, I thought this will be a great place to retire – low to no maintenance, single story (elevator up/down), walk to town, new, green building, etc.  Having a Whole Foods downstirs works well also.   However, as a  young, single professional living in Chicago many years ago, I also enjoyed staying in downtown highrise for the amentities it provides (Millworks is not close to the 45th floor I was on before).  

Releases – The current plan the developer has is to release 10 homes at a time while gauging the interest ,control inventory and proper pricing. 

Tax Credit – And don’t forget the Federal First Time Homebuyer Up to $8,000 Tax Credit as well as the California State Up to $10,000 Tax Credit for purchasing new contrustions !

Interested in Checking out Millworks? – I enjoyed my visit to Millworks with Barbara.  Let me know if this stirs up your curiosity.  Please give me a call (415) 717-0293 or email me at sylvia@SylviaSellsMarin.comif you want to check out Millworks.  I would love to come with you and get your input about the building that changed the face of Old Town Novato, For Better For Worse, and hopefully, since it’s already here, we will make it ”For Better’ because that’s the only way we can all benefit! 

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California Issues New Construction Tax Credit for Qualified Homebuyers

americandreamIn order to stimulate purchases of newly constructed homes as well as encouraging home ownership; the State of California has issued a (up to) $10,000 tax credit for homebuyers of new contruction properties.
 
Here are the details of the plan:
 
1)  This credit only applies to new homes that will be used as a primary residence and is limited to the first 10,000 new home purchases.
 
2)  The credit is for $10,000 or 5% of the home’s price, whichever is less.
 

3)  There is no down payment requirement to receive the $10,000 tax credit.
 
4)  There are no maximum income limitations so any buyer purchasing a new home can qualify.
  
5) The $10,000 tax credit is just that, a credit, not a loan, so if the home remains your primary residence for two years, you do not have to pay any portion of the tax credit back. If you sell the home in less than two years, then it has to be paid back at time of sale.
  
6) The new home cannot be located outside of the United States and it cannot be inherited property or a gift.

Federal Tax Credit for Qualified First Time Home Buyers – Purcahsed between

This post addresses the Federal Tax Credit for Qualified First Time Home Buyers.  Look for new post for California Tax Credit.

Note that the Federal and California tax credits are very different from each other, and the methods for claiming the credit are likewise very different.

The good news is that the first time home buyer credit allows qualifying home buyers who bought their homes between April 8, 2008 and December 1, 2009 to claim their first home buyer tax credit.

This summary is provided for general information only and does not apply to any individual situation. Remember to advise all buyers who are interested in qualifying for either or both of these credits to consult with their own tax advisors.

FEDERAL TAX CREDIT (FIRST-TIME BUYERS ONLY)

Amount: $8,000 if home purchased in 2009, but no more than 10% of the purchase price of the home (half that amount if married filing separately). $7,500 if purchased before 2009.

Expires: December 1, 2009

Only First-Time Homebuyers Can Claim the Credit: In general, buyers can claim the credit if they are a first-time homebuyer.

 Buyers are considered a first-time homebuyer if:

  • They purchased their main home after April 8, 2008, and before December 1, 2009.
  • The buyer (and spouse, if married) did not own any other main home during the 3-year period ending on the date of purchase.

Main home. A main home is the one the buyer lives in most of the time. Not limited to new construction. It can be a house, houseboat, house-trailer, cooperative apartment, condominium, or other type of residence.

The Credit Cannot Be Claimed If:

  • The buyer’s modified adjusted gross income is $95,000 or more ($170,000 or more if married filing jointly).
  • The buyer is a nonresident alien.
  • The home is located outside the United States.
  • The buyer acquired their home by gift or inheritance.
  • The buyer acquired their home from a related person.

No Repayment of Credit: There is no repayment of this credit if the home is purchased in 2009. However, the buyer must repay the credit if the home ceases to be their main home within the 36-month period beginning on the purchase date. (Note: For homes purchased before 2009, the tax credit is subject to repayment rules.)