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.


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.)

How to have a Successful 2009 in Real Estate – or Anything Else!

rotaryJust received the Rotarian’s Magazine for 01/2009.  As usual, a lot of great articles, but a few caught my attention, 

One of those is ‘How to Get Things Done’ with just a few clear pointers. as this is time to set business goals, I thought they can be borrowed to help us succeed in 2009 at our Real Estate career.  They are all based on common sense, but oh, so much sense!

1).  Prepare before you begin a project – Make an effort to organize your physical environment.  Take a few moments to write a list a the start of each day.  Set realistic goals.

2). Tacklee the biggest challenge of your day as soon as possible.  Avoid getting bogged down in less important chores.  There can eat up your time without giving you any sense of accomplishment

3). Think, don’t worry; focus, don’t hurry.  Try to remain calm and stay positive.  Allowing yourself to get stressed out will only make you less productive.  If you feel your concentration slipping, close your eyes and take a brief rest.

4).  Live in the moment; concentrate on the task at hand.  Check your list daily.  Allow yourself to feel good about what you have done, and see what awaits you tomorrow.

I also love the closing statement from a fictitious philosopher named Alfred E. Neuman –

successLive Every Day like it is  your last, because one of these days you are going to be right!

sold1With all the challenges we are going to face and all the things we try to accomplish in 2009 – prepare and plan ahead, stay focused, face difficulties head on, no delaying, no weaving, work purposely and smartly, concentrate and work hard:

Live for the moment as there is no tomorrow – There is only one way to go – Success!!!  

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury 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. 

Marin County 2nd Unit Amnesty Program – Apply Before 12/31/2008

marincountymap1REMINDER for Marin County property owners who have illegal second units should consider taking advantage of the ‘Marin County Second Unit Amnesty’ Program before it expires on 12/31/2008.  The goal of the Amnesty program is to ensure the safe and habitable dwelling conditions for the 2nd units with incentive of reduction of up to 50% all permit fees for units that fit the requirements.    

The following are required along with the application:

  • Completed ‘Zoning/Development Application’
  • The 2nd unit was in existence prior to June 2003
  • Owner needs to complete a Uniform Housing Code Inspection
  • Five sets of plans, including
    • Site plan showing property lines, location of main residence and 2nd unit and location of parking space
    • Accurately scaled floor plan for main and 2nd unit.  
    • Second unit size must be between 220 and 750 sf – limited exceptions can be made for units that are between 750 and 1,000 sf.
  • Proof that owner resides in either the main unit or the 2nd unit

Following are required before permits can be issued.

  • Complete property inspection by fire department to identify minimum fire safe requirements and fees
  • Confirm water and sewer service requirements, including septic sewer disposal system requirements if applicable

Check on the link for details for the program.

Please Visit the Marin County Community Development Agency’s public information counter at the Civic Center – Room 308, San Rafael, California, Monday through Friday (closed holidays), 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., or call (415) 499-6269. 

For additional information contact the following staff and state that you are interested in the Second Unit Amnesty Program Division Liaisons:

  • Planning – Kristina Tierney 473-4333
  • Building – Larry Grace 499-6550
  • Environmental Health – Janet Mullin 499-6273
  • Department of Public – Works Berenice Davidson 499-3770
  • General Amnesty information – Stacey Laumann 507-2698
  • Fire – Scott Alber 499-6566

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury 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.

How to Achieve Highest Recyclable Collection Rate in Marin County

As a Novato Resident, surrounded by Open Space, Natural Parks, Bay front; we are proud to be the city with the highest recyclable collection and lowest solid waste rate in Marin county.

The distinction can not be achieved solely by residents with good intention without the service provided by Novato Disposal Service

The Novato Disposal Service provides weekly pick ups of Green (Yard) Recyclables and Blue Recyclables (plastic containers, newspaper, bottles, jars, etc), Bi-Annual (spring, fall) large items, large volume and eWaste free-collections which the neighborhoods overwhelmingly participate and look forward to. 

The service utilizes plants with state of the art equipment to sort, accept and reject wastes, ensuring proper waste recycle to allow for most waste being processed.    

Their website provides timely guidance on recyclable plastics, cans, paper products; safely dispose of cooking oil, fluorescent lights, how to pack for lunches to produce the least solid waste; and where to dispose of hazard waste; etc.   

The Novato Disposal team also participates in chamber and school green activities; and Novato July 4th Parade, putting on a great waste collection routine to promote their recycle program.  

The latest improvement for Novato Disposal Service is the new Garbage Trucks they purchased, allowing for picking up both green and blue wastes on the same route; eliminating double pick ups and providing savings on resources (manpower, gas consumption, ozone depletion).


Not only is Novato Disposal Service mindful of local recycling programs, they also participate and donate generously to local schools.  They are the annual supporter for the local high school Safe and Sober Grad Night fundraising effort; where the high school helps residents in recycling their Christmas trees in exchange of a small donation to the worthy cause.  For a week after Christmans, the Novato Disposal donates huge derbris boxes and the drivers to transport and dispose of the Christmas trees.


For the ECO minded readers, I encourage you to go to their website to learn more about how to properly recycle and save the environment. 


Novato Recycling and Reuse Directories


Marin Hazardous and Solid Waste Guide



Is Your Marin County Home Wildfire Ready?


During the high Fire season, it is nice to see the article from S.F. Chronicle highlighing what builders in he 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?


  • 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).

Fannie Mae Tightens Guidelines for Retaining Current Residence as 2nd Home or Investment Properties

In today’s Frank Howard Allen Office meeing, Andy Shine, mortgage broker with Residence Pacific Mortgage, discussed the new guideline by Fannie Mae, which will be effective on August 1. The guidelines affect loans for purchase a new home while retaining the current residence as 2nd home or investment porperty.

Might be time to buy the house you always wanted if you are sitting on the fence.

Here are the details:

Situation New Requirement
Current Principal residence is pending sale but the transacction will not be closed (with title transfer to a new owner) prior to the new transaction  Both the current and the proposed mortgage payments must be used to qualify the borrower forthe new transaction
Coversion to a Second Home – Both the current and the proposed mortgage payments must be used to qualify the borrower forthe new transaction, and- 6 months of PITI for BOTH properties is required to be in reserves.  Lender may consider reduced reserves of no less than 2 months for both properties if there is documented equity of at least 30 percent in the existing property
Conversion to an Investment Property Fannie Mae continues to permit up to 75% of rental income to be used to offset the mortgage if there is document equity of at least 30% in existing propertyThe rental income must be documented with:

– Copy of fully executed lease agreement

– Receipt of security deposit from tenant and into borrower’s account

If not meeting 30% equity requirement, rental income may not be used to offse the mortgage payment.

– Both the current and the proposed mortgage payments must be used to qualify the borrowers for the new transaction; and

– 6 months of PITI for BOTH properties is required to be in reserves. 


Marin County Summer Cooling Centers

Marin County Summer Cooling CentersThe following information is provided by the Novato Chamber of Commerce.  Since Marin weather is mild in general, so most of home owners do not need nor do they have air conditioner.  This information can be very helpful for the rare, but very  uncomfortable scorching hot days in Marin.

This is very important for the very young, the Seniors or others with health conditions who need to be especially careful when weather conditions change drastically!

The following facilities have graciously agreed to open their doors as Cooling Centers (to those of any age) in Marin County in times of need.

Hours of operation as a Cooling Center are informally offered and may change when necessary.

Each site is air-conditioned, has water for drinking, a restroom and seating.

Aegis of Corte Madera
5555 Paradise Drive; Corte Madera 94925
Phone: (415) 927-4200 Fax: (415) 927-4200
Hours available as a Cooling Center: 8:30am to 7pm daily (weekends included)

Marin YMCA
1500 Los Gamos Drive; San Rafael 94903
Phone: (415) 446-2101 Fax: (415) 492-9703
Hours available as a Cooling Center: 7am to 7pm daily (weekends included)

Aldersly Garden Retirement Community
326 Mission Ave; San Rafael 94901
Phone: (415) 453-7425 Fax: (415) 453-6377
Hours available as a Cooling Center: 9am to 5pm Monday thru Friday

The Margaret Todd Senior Center (MTSC) Primary Cooling Center in Novato
1560 Hill Road; Novato 94947
Phone: (415) 899-8290
Hours available as a Cooling Center: 9am to 5pm Monday thru Friday
For after hour assistance, please call Novato Police Department Dispatch (415) 897-1122

Aegis of San Rafael
111 Merrydale Road; San Rafael 94903
Phone: (415) 472-6530 Fax: (415) 472-3969
Hours available as a Cooling Center: 9am to 5pm Monday thru Friday

Information provided by Marin County Department of Health & Human Services

Where to Buy U.S. (NOT Imported) Gas?

Following up wiith the previous Gas Saving Hints, here is some information I found about where to buy Gas that produced in the U.S., …………

Gas rationing in the 80’s worked even though we grumbled about it. It might even be good for us! The Saudis are boycotting American goods. We should return the favor. An interesting thought is to boycott their GAS. Every time you fill up the car, you can avoid putting more money into the coffers of Saudi Arabia.

Just buy from gas companies that don’t import their oil from the Saudis. Nothing is more frustrating than the feeling that every time I fill-up the tank, I am sending my money to people who are trying to kill me, my family, and my friends.

I thought it might be interesting for you to know which oil companies are the best to buy gas from and which major companies import Middle Eastern oil.  

These companies import Middle Eastern oil:

  Shell………………………. 205,742,000 barrels 
  Chevron / Texaco……… 144,332,000 barrels 
  Exxon / Mobil…………… 130,082,000 barrels 
  Marathon/Speedway….. 117,740,000 barrels 
  Amoco…………………….. 62,231,000 barrels 
  Citgo gas is from South America, from a Dictator who hates Americans.

If you do the math, at $30/barrel, these imports amount to over $18 BILLION!  (Oil is now $90 – $100 a barrel).

Here are some large companies that do not import Middle Eastern oil:

            Sunoco………………0 barrels
            Conoco……………..0 barrels
            Sinclair……………..0 barrels
            BP / Phillips / 76….0 barrels
            Hess…………………0 barrels
            ARC0……………….0 barrels

All of this information is available from the Department of Energy and each company is required to report where they get their oil from and how much they are importing.

But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of gas buyers. It’s really simple to do. Now, don’t wimp out at this point…. keep reading and I’ll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!

If each of you (assume 10 of you read this article) sends it to at least ten more (10 x 10 = 100)…and those 100 send it to at least ten more (100 x 10 = 1,000) .. and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth generation of people, we will have reached over  ONE MILLION consumers !!!!!!! If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 10 million people will have been contacted! If it goes one level further, you guessed it . .. ONE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!! Again, all you have to do is send this to 10 people. How long would all that take?


Daily Mortgage Rate Lock Advisory


The following is an Advisory posted by A La Mode, which provides us with Mortgage commentary for our clients. This is only an opinion from A La Mode. Since each borrower’s needs are different, this advisory can not be guaranteed to be in the best interest of all/any other borrowers.

Thursday’s bond market has opened in positive territory despite the release of stronger than expected economic data. The stock markets are reacting positively with the Dow up 50 points and the Nasdaq up 40 points. The bond market is currently up 8/32, which with yesterday’s late gains should improve mortgage rates by approximately .375 – .500 of a discount point over yesterday’s morning rates.

There were two pieces of monthly data posted this morning. The first was March’s Personal Income & Outlays report that showed personal income fell short of forecasts with a 0.3% rise but that spending rose 0.4% when it was expected to rise only 0.2%. That means that consumers spent more than expected and that is considered bad news for bonds.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) released their manufacturing index for April late this morning. It showed a reading of 48.6, meaning that manufacturer sentiment remained unchanged from March to April. Anal ysts were expecting to see a small decline, so this report could also be taken as a negative towards bonds. However, the market seems to not be too concerned with it. Trader are probably waiting for tomorrow’s data before making any moves.

The almighty Employment report will be released early tomorrow morning, giving us April’s employment statistics. This is where we may see a huge rally or major sell-off in the bond market and large changes in mortgage rates. The ideal situation for the bond and mortgage markets would be an increase in the unemployment rate and fewer than expected new payrolls. Just how much of an improvement or worsening depends on how much variance there is between forecasts and actual readings. This could turn out to be a wonderful day in the mortgage market, but it also carries risks of seeing mortgage rates move higher if the Labor Department posts stronger than expected readings. Current forecasts are calling for a 5.2% unemployment rate and approximately 75,000 jobs lost during the month.

Tomorrow’s second report and the last of the week is March’s Factory Orders data at 10:00AM. This is a fairly important release because it measures manufacturing sector strength. It is similar to last week’s Durable Goods Orders, except this report includes non-durable goods such as food and clothing. Generally, the market is more concerned with the durable goods orders like refrigerators and electronics than items such as cigarettes and toothpaste. This is why the Durable Goods report usually has more of an impact on the financial markets than the Factory Orders report does. Still, a smaller increase than the 0.2% that is expected could push mortgage rates slightly lower, while a larger increase will likely lead to higher rates. But, the employment numbers are of much more importance to the markets than this data is.

If I were considering financing/refinancing a home, I would….

  • Float if my closing was taking place within 7 days…
  • Float if my closing was taking place between 8 and 20 days…
  • Float if my closing was taking place between 21 and 60 days…
  • Float if my closing was taking place over 60 days from now…

Note: As stated previously, this is only my opinion of what I would do if I were financing a home. It is only an opinion and cannot be guaranteed to be in the best interest of all/any other borrowers.

Top Real Estate Video of 2008 by ActiveRain

There are many innovative ways to showcase a listing.  Mike Lefebvre of Century 21 Commonwealth outdid himself again this time and won the Activerain 2008 Video Contest. 

Don’t know if I’ll be this creative, but certainly something to think about when I list another Marin Home.

Check out the video and enjoy.