Widespread teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and increased economic hardship for children are among the impacts California’s budget crisis and the recession have had on public schools and students, according to a report released Thursday.
Researchers at UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access interviewed 87 elementary, middle and high principals across California to gauge the impact of the recession and budget cuts on student welfare and school learning environments.
Before the recession began, California K-12 public schools, which were among the nation’s best in the 1960s, already ranked near the bottom nationally in many measures of academic achievement and school quality.
The economic downturn and state budget crisis has undermined recent academic gains and widened the disparity between schools in rich and poor communities, said John Rogers, the institute’s director.
“It’s taken California several steps backward on the road to improvement,” Rogers said. “It’s also harmed the long-term prospects for California to rebuild a quality education system.”
The report, called “Educational Opportunities in Hard Times,” found that:
— 62 percent of principals reported that teachers in their schools had been laid off, threatened with layoffs or reassigned to other schools. The number of actual layoffs was four times greater at schools in poorer communities than wealthier communities.
— 67 percent reported that class sizes had increased, with 74 percent of elementary school principals reporting larger class sizes.
— 75 percent reported that summer school had been reduced or eliminated.
— 75 percent reported reductions in instructional materials and supplies.
— 70 percent reported cuts to professional development programs.
— 67 percent reported growing housing insecurity, which includes homelessness, families moving in together and families moving away for economic reasons.
— 51 percent reported an increase in the health, psychological or social service needs of their students.
Many principals are seeing the impact on rising unemployment and poverty on their students as parents lose their jobs and homes, according to the report. About two-thirds said their schools have referred students and families to health and social service providers.
I have a unique Tahoe Keys duplex condo for sale. It is in the middle of a remodel so it would have to be a cash offer- although the seller is open to any creative solution. It has a 2 bedroom 1.5 bath unit that is currently rented and a studio with full bath and kitchen. The studio is in the remodel stage. The owner has the new kitchen cabinets, stove/oven, 40k BTU gas fireplace, and dishwasher uninstalled on site. He is tired of the project and just wants out. Not in the MLS yet-
It has one garage space, outside parking, keys amenities (pools, hot tubs, tennis courts, boat launching, private beach), a nice mountain and marina view, and 2 boat slips…… A legal duplex with one APN number….
Offered in the very low $300’s
When you finished with this project you could flip for a nice profit or keep it and rent one unit and keep one for yourself.
By now it is well documented that today’s affordable housing prices, historically low interest rates and federal home buyer tax credit have combined to create one of the most attractive first-time buyer markets in recent memory. What many Americans might not realize is that a recent expansion of the buyer tax credit has created an equally desirable opportunity for existing homeowners.
This past November, Congress elected to expand the home buyer tax credit to repeat buyers after seeing the success the temporary financial incentive had on the housing market and overall economy. As a result, current homeowners who will have lived in their home for 5 consecutive years out of the last 8 may now be eligible to receive a $6,500 tax credit.
“The expanded tax credit offers a great financial opportunity for existing homeowners, particularly those looking to trade up,” said James M. Weichert, president and founder of Weichert, Realtors, one of the nation’s largest independent real estate companies. “Not only can you receive a large sum of money from the government, you’ll also likely purchase your next home for less money and at a lower interest rate than you could have in years past or years to come.”
To qualify for the tax credit, the repeat buyer must have signed a binding contract by April 30, 2010 and close on the home by June 30, 2010. Tax credit eligibility is subject to income limits, $125,000 for single buyers and $225,000 for couples. In addition, the sale price of the home being purchased can not exceed $800,000.
There is no requirement that existing homeowners must have sold their home to be eligible for the $6,500 tax credit. However, Weichert encourages existing homeowners who want to benefit from this incentive to move quickly, particularly those who prefer to first sell their current home before purchasing a new one.
“Typically, it takes three months or longer to sell a home. That’s why it is critical repeat buyers put their home on the market right away. Otherwise they might not leave themselves enough time to both secure a buyer for their current house and find a new home by the April 30 deadline,” added Weichert.
The Lake Tahoe basin remains a potential host for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
While local organizations have spearheaded efforts to bring the games to Lake Tahoe in recent years, there is reason for renewed optimism, according to Lt. Governor Brian Krolicki, chairman of Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition (RTWGC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to having Reno/Tahoe selected as the next North American region to host an Olympic Winter Games.
“The latest comments from the USOC are an absolute shot in the arm for the Lake Tahoe region’s latest bid to host the games,” he said. “This will allow us the necessary momentum to create a network and a partnership between Nevada and California that can focus on putting a package in place that makes it compelling for the USOC.”
A shakeup in the United States Olympic Committee leadership has led to a reprioritization of how the committee will approach the bidding process.
USOC Chairman Larry Probst and newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun indicated they may want to pursue a 2022 Winter Games bid.
“Nothing’s off the table at this point,” chairman Larry Probst said during an interview at Associated Press headquarters Tuesday, when asked about a possible 2022 bid.
In the past, the USOC has focused on bringing the Summer Games to a bid city, as the games are typically viewed as a stronger economic engine for the host city.
However, in wake of Chicago’s last place finish in the bidding process for the 2016 Summer Games, the USOC indicated that bringing the Winter Games to the United States could be a positive step in repairing their relationship with the International Olympic Committee.
“The idea is to face in the right direction and start walking,” Blackmun said, “and we’ll know when we get there.”
According to reports from the Associated Press, the two strongest candidates to host the 2022 Winter Games are Denver and Reno-Tahoe.
“We’re really supportive of the USOC and the Olympic movement,” KieAnn Brownell, president of the Denver Sports Commission, told the Associated Press. “We have aspirations from the standpoint of wanting to host international events of all types. We’re going to follow the USOC’s lead and see where that goes.”
Bringing the 2022 Winter Games to Lake Tahoe would give the region an opportunity to dramatically improve its infrastructure, said Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Spokesman Dennis Oliver.
“Lake Tahoe could be the first Olympic site to deliver a Green Olympics with an underlying theme of sustainability,” he said.
Oliver said preparations for hosting the games should include installing a public transportation system capable of serving residents long after the event has concluded.
Oliver also envisions the creation of new more energy efficient hotel accommodations, athletic facilities with minimal impact on the local environment, and a system of feeding the athletes with locally grown agricultural products.
“It would be an event with an underlying theme of carbon neutral and I know a lot of local leaders would be interested in pulling it off,” Oliver said.
“The 2022 Winter Games would be a spectacle and a delight for several weeks,” he said. “But the improvements made to the infrastructure of the Lake Tahoe Basin in lead-up to the games would benefit residents for decades.”
Residents of El Dorado County can receive a free radon test kit until supplies run out.
The Tahoe Division of the El Dorado County Environmental Management Department has several hundred test kits available, said Virginia Huber, Tahoe Division Manager.
The kits can be picked up from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. weekdays at 3368 Lake Tahoe Blvd. Suite 303.
“We recommend everyone in the South Lake Tahoe area test their home for radon,” Huber said.
Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive case that arises from the decay of naturally occurring uranium and thorium in soil. The gas is linked to 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year, second only to cigarette smoking, according to the EPA.
A report from the California Geological Survey in June 2009 estimated that 23,400 people in the Lake Tahoe area live in buildings where radon is likely to equal or exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended action level of 4 picocuries per liter.
The report was based on geological data, as well as results from a survey of 443 homes in South Lake Tahoe between 2006 and 2007.
According to the survey, about 40 percent of homes in the Lake Tahoe area are at or above the EPA’s recommended action level, while approximately 55 percent of homes in the El Dorado County portion of the basin who participated in the survey are at or above the recommended action level.
Winter is a good time to test a home for radon, Huber said.
“It’s the best time to test because your house is closed up,” she said.
Do you have some—but not unlimited—cash for upgrades? Here are budget-minded enhancements to make your home stand out from the competition.
1. Tidy up kitchen cabinets.
“Potential buyers do open kitchen cabinets and look inside,” says Morrissey. “Home owners can add rollout organizing trays so when buyers peek in, they feel like there’s lots of room for their stuff.”
2. Add or replace tile.
“By retiling very inexpensively, you make a room look way cleaner that it was,” says Javier Zuluaga, owner of Home Repairs and Remodeling LLC in Tempe, Ariz. “Every city has stores that offer $1 to $2 tile, so home owners have to pay only for the low-cost tile and labor to replace a dated backsplash or add a new one. We also use inexpensive tile to upgrade bathrooms.”
3. Add a breakfast bar.
When a wall separates a kitchen from a family room, suggest cutting out an opening to create a breakfast bar. “In one home, there was a cutout in the wall between the kitchen and living room,” explains Matthew Quinn, a sales associate at Quinn’s Realty & Estate Services in Falls Church, Va., who handles estate and real estate sales for family members whose loved ones have passed away. “We left the structure of the cutout, added an oversized granite breakfast bar, and put chairs in front of it. That cost about $600.”
4. Install granite tile instead of a slab.
“Everybody is hot for granite kitchen countertops, but that can be a $5,000 upgrade,” says John Wilder, a general contractor and owner of Fence and Deck Doctor in New Castle, Ind. “Instead, home owners can put in 12-inch granite tiles for about $300 in materials and get very high impact for little money.”
5. Freshen up a bathroom without retiling.
“With a dated bathroom, I recommend putting in a new medicine cabinet for $100 to $150, light fixtures for about $100, a faucet for $50 to $75, and a vanity for $200 to $300,” says Wilder. “And instead of replacing the tile, the existing grout can be lightly scraped and regrouted, which leaves a haze that can be buffed out and will make the tile look brand new. Also install glass shower doors. A French door adds a lot of panache and elegance for $250, and people will notice the door, not the tile. With all that, you’ve done a bathroom remodel for $1,000 to $2,000.”
6. Freshen up the basement.
“If home owners have cement block or poured concrete walls in the basement, suggest they have a contractor fill in cracks with hydraulic cement and then paint with waterproofing paint,” recommends Wilder. “They can then add a top coat to add color. They can also paint the basement floor with a good floor paint, which spiffs it up. The basement may not be finished, but it’s no longer a damp dungeon.”
7. Add a room.
Look for large spaces that can be enclosed to create a new bedroom for just the price of creating a wall. “One time, we closed off a half-wall to an office and added a door to the other side of the room, thus creating another bedroom,” says Quinn. “That $400 procedure, which took a contractor one day, netted about $40,000 in the sales price.” Zuluaga has also added bedrooms inexpensively. “In a two-bedroom house, there was an archway that led to a third room that was used as a den,” he explains. “It had a dry bar where there would have been a closet, so we took out the dry bar and created a closet so the owners had a third bedroom.”
8. Spruce up cabinet fronts.
Suggest home owners update tired-looking kitchen cabinets. Reconditioning is the least expensive move for under $1,000. “If the wood is starting to look shabby from use or contaminants in the air, we take out the nicks and scratches, recondition it with oil, and put new hardware on,” explains Heidi Morrissey, vice president of marketing and sales at Kitchen Tune-Up in Aberdeen, S.D. For $1,500 to $4,000, owners can replace the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, and for $4,000 to $12,000, they can have all the cabinets refaced. “With refacing, owners can change the color of the cabinets by replacing the door and having a new skin put on the boxes,” says Morrissey. “If they have oak cabinets today, they can have cherry the next day.”
9. Replace light fixtures.
“In a foyer and in bathrooms and kitchens,” says Wilder, “replacing overhead light fixtures provides a lot of pop for a little money.” If the kitchen has track lighting, Zuluaga suggests the home owner spend $450 to $600 to have an electrician replace it with recessed canned lights on a dimmer switch to add ambience. For about $700, Zuluaga also suggests installing pendant lights over a kitchen island or peninsula.
10. Tech-up the garage.
“Sometimes we replace the garage door opener with a remote touchpad entry system,” says Zuluaga. “That costs about $425 and makes it look like a high-end system.”
This Afternoon: Rain and snow, becoming all snow after 4pm. Snow level 6300 feet. High near 42. South wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Total daytime snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
Tonight: Snow before 10pm, then rain and snow. Low around 33. South wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
M.L.King Day: Rain and snow. High near 35. Breezy, with a south wind around 25 mph, with gusts as high as 40 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 4 to 8 inches possible.
Monday Night: Snow. Low around 26. Breezy, with a south wind between 20 and 25 mph, with gusts as high as 40 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.
Tuesday: Snow. High near 31. South wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.
Tuesday Night: Snow. Low around 31. Chance of precipitation is 100%.
Wednesday: Snow. High near 32. Chance of precipitation is 100%.
Wednesday Night: Snow. Cloudy, with a low around 28.
Thursday: Snow. Cloudy, with a high near 29.
Thursday Night: Snow likely. Cloudy, with a low around 25.
Friday: Snow likely. Cloudy, with a high near 29.
Friday Night: A chance of snow. Cloudy, with a low around 22.
Saturday: A chance of snow. Cloudy, with a high near 32.
Beginning in 2011 all new one and two-family homes and townhouses built in California must have automatic fire sprinkler systems.
The California State Building Standards Commission voted Tuesday unanimously b to adopt the 2010 California Residential Code, which includes the 2009 International Residential Code as established by the International Code Council in September 2008. The residential sprinkler requirement was voted into the 2009 IRC Code by building code officials from all over the United States, gaining more than two-thirds of the vote.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 3320 people perished in fires in 2008 throughout the United States. According to the NFPA, there has never been a documented fire death in a fully operational sprinklered residence with working smoke detectors.
“It is a tragedy for our nation to have those kinds of preventable fire death losses,” said
Lake Valley Fire Protection District Fire Chief Jeff Michael.
For more information about the new building standards codes coming in 2011, contact the Lake Valley Fire Protection District, Fire Prevention Bureau at 530-577-3737.
The following article is from RISMEDIA. It is a good overview of the home buyers tax credit.
RISMEDIA, January 7, 2010—As we begin 2010, both real estate professionals and home buyers have something to look forward to and more importantly, take advantage of—the extended and expanded home buyer tax credit.
Originally created in 2008, the home-buyer tax credit has evolved from a $7,500 credit, which had to be repaid by the home buyer over the course of 15 years, to an $8,000 tax credit with no repayment required in 2009. Now, for a limited time in 2010, the $8,000 home buyer tax credit will still be available to first-time home buyers and certain current homeowners will also be eligible for a $6,500 credit.
To help everyone better understand the extended and expanded home buyer tax credit, here are some highlights of the changes.
Who can claim the credit?
“First-time home buyers” who purchase homes between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010 are eligible for the credit. To qualify as a “first-time home buyer” the purchaser or his/her spouse may not have owned a residence during the three years prior to the purchase.
For current homeowners purchasing a home during the same time frame, they are also eligible for a tax credit, so long as the home being sold or vacated was their principal residence for five consecutive years within the last eight. To elaborate, it must be the same home; it is not enough that they have been homeowners for five consecutive years, they must have been in the same home for five consecutive years.
Another key point is that the existing home does not need to be sold. One must, however, occupy the new home as a principal residence and do so for three years or risk recapture of the credit. Also, the new home does not need to cost more than the old home despite the concept that it is directed at “move up” buyers.
How much is the credit and what are the income limits?
The maximum allowable credit for first-time home buyers is $8,000 or 10% of the sales price, whichever is less. For current homeowners, it is $6,500 or 10% of the sale price, whichever is less. Under the extended home buyer tax credit, single buyers with incomes up to $125,000 and married couples with incomes up to $225,000 may receive the maximum credit.
The credit decreases for single buyers who earn between $125,000 and $145,000 and between $225,000 and $245,000 for home buyers filing jointly. The amount of the tax credit deceases as his/her income approaches the maximum limit. Home buyers earning more than the maximum qualifying income – over $145,000 for singles and over $245,000 for couples – are not eligible for the credit.
What are the deadlines for qualifying for the credit?
Under the extended home buyer tax credit, as long as a written binding contract to purchase a home is in effect on April 30, 2010, and the deal is closed by July 1, 2010, one can claim the credit.
Will the tax credit need to be repaid?
No, the buyer does not need to repay the tax credit if he/she occupies the home for three years or more. However, if the property is sold during this three-year period, the full amount of the credit will be recouped on the sale. Another provision of the law waives the recapture provisions for service members who receive orders that require them to move.
Are there any other critical provisions?
-There are three provisions people should be aware of:
-There is an $800,000 limitation on the cost of the home
-The purchaser must be at least 18 years old on the date of purchase
-For a married couple, only one spouse must meet this age requirement and dependents are not eligible to claim the credit
Finally, as an anti-fraud measure, purchasers must attach documentation of purchase to his/her tax return claiming the credit. Normally this would be a copy of the HUD-1, but could include other documents memorializing the settlement.
As with all tax matters, responsibility for complying with the tax code belongs to the taxpayer. Real estate professionals should recommend that their buyers consult their tax professionals to ensure eligibility for the credit and the proper way to claim the credit. For more information including the required IRS forms please contact the Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-1040.
Ken Trepeta is the Director, Real Estate Services for the National Association of REALTORS® Real Estate Services program.
RISMEDIA, —As part of the government’s high price-tag efforts to rejuvenate the flailing American economy, on November 6, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law an expansion and extension of the home buyer tax credit.
With housing at the center of the country’s economic engine, extending the lifeline a little further for a little longer is being hailed as a significant measure by both economists and real estate leaders.
The estimated cost of the home buyer tax credit, part of the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, is $18.5 billion, yet another mind-boggling sum in a series of stimulus strategies. With that $18.5 billion comes great responsibility for real estate professionals—a responsibility to maximize the opportunity and help get the wheels of the housing market turning again.
“The extension and expansion of the home buyer tax credit was absolutely necessary for the housing market and, most importantly, the U.S. economy,” says Alex Perriello, president and CEO, Realogy Franchise Group. “Clearly, Congress and the Administration recognized that inaction on their part—and thus an expiration of the previous first-time home buyer credit—would have been extremely detrimental. We’re proud of the active role that Realogy management and brokers played in educating key policy makers in Washington about the economic benefits of extending and expanding the home buyer tax credit.”
“The extension of the tax credit—and its expansion to include qualified move-up buyers—offers additional hope for a struggling economy and unlimited opportunity for dedicated brokers and agents,” agrees Steve Brown, special liaison for Large Firm Relations, NAR, and broker/owner of Irongate Realty in Dayton, Ohio.
“Activity inspires people—this tax credit has stimulated the entire economy,” says Tami Bonnell, president of the U.S. Organization for EXIT Realty. “There was a glut of people who stood still, not sure what to do. Finally, especially with the addition of the existing homeowner portion of the credit, people are jumping onboard.”
According to Greg Rand, managing partner of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty in Westchester County, New York, the home buyer tax credit helped the real estate industry—nationwide—to a 2009 fourth quarter that marked the biggest increase in home sales in 20 years. “The media is finally beginning to pick up on what’s going on and is finally driving some positive consumer confidence. This is prompting people to start thinking about purchasing a home.”
Absorbing the Details…Quickly
As Margaret Kelly, CEO of RE/MAX International, Inc., explains, “Congress extended the tax credit and amended it to include repeat buyers in hopes of securing a more sustained real estate upswing. However, the narrow window suggests none of us should count on another extension.” With a deadline of April 30, 2010 (closing must occur by June 30), consumers need to act fast in order to capitalize on the expanded and extended credit. In order for consumers to act fast, brokers and agents must serve as a trusted guide.
“First and foremost, we cannot and should not assume that real estate consumers know what we know,” advises Perriello. “As real estate professionals, we are closest to the situation and it is imperative for the industry to aggressively impart our knowledge and promote the key facts about the home buyer tax credit in order to educate potential home buyers about the various details that may specifically apply to their specific situations.”
Here are the main points of the tax credit legislation:
-The Timeline: The credit is available for homes purchased on or after November 7, 2009 and before May 1, 2010. The federal income credit can be claimed on one’s individual or joint tax return for the purchase of any single-family home (newly constructed or resale, single-family detached, townhomes or condominiums) between the dates of November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010. Home purchases subject to a binding sales contract signed before May 1, 2010 will also qualify for the tax credit as long as closing occurs by June 30, 2010.
-Who’s Eligible: The tax credit is now available for first-time home buyers and eligible current homeowners. A first-time home buyer is defined as an individual who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. This law applies for both parties in a married couple; if you haven’t owned a home for three years, but your husband has, then neither one of you can qualify for the tax credit. A qualified current homeowner who wishes to move to a different home (a “move-up” buyer), must have owned and resided in their residence for five consecutive years out of the last eight.
-Salary Requirements: Under the legislation, the income limits to qualify are the same for both first-time home buyers and current homeowners: Single taxpayers with incomes up to $125,000 and married couples with a joint income up to $225,000 qualify for the full tax credit. According to Goldman Sachs, these income limits make almost all first-time home buyers eligible and approximately 70% of current homeowners eligible. Single taxpayers who earn between $125,000 and $145,000, and married couples who earn between $225,000 and $245,000 are eligible to receive a partial credit.
-Credit Amounts: The maximum credit amount for first-time home buyers is $8,000; the maximum credit amount for current homeowners is $6,500. The federal tax credit amounts to 10% of the cost of the home, up to a maximum credit of $8,000 for first-time home buyers and $6,500 for current homeowners. Under the new legislation, a tax credit may only be issued for homes purchased for $800,000 or less.
-Tax Facts: Provided the home-owner stays in the home for three or more years, the tax credit is a true credit and does not need to be repaid. The tax credit is fully refundable, meaning the credit will be paid out to eligible taxpayers, even if you owe no tax or the credit is more than the tax owed. The credit is claimed using Form 5405, which you file with your original or amended tax return. Buyers can claim the credit on their 2009 taxes, even if the home is purchased in 2010, by filing an amended tax return.
-Fraud Prevention: The current tax credit legislation has built-in fraud measures, therefore, anyone claiming the credit must provide documentation to prove that the sale has closed, such as a copy of their HUD-1 Settlement Statement. The law also prevents anyone younger than 18 from claiming the credit.
Motivating Move-up Buyers
While the extended deadlines and increased salary caps of the tax credit are indeed a boon to first-time home buyers, the expansion of the tax credit to include current homeowners stands to have a significant impact on home sales.
According to Scott McDonald, president of RE/MAX Gateway in Chantilly, Virginia, and a member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, “Over the last year, we have seen few move-up buyers as a result of lost equity, uncertainty of perceived value in the market as a result of foreclosures and short sales, and low consumer confidence. It is a matter of education on the Realtor’s part as well as the media to get the word out to our move-up market.”
“The expanded tax credit means that the gridlock caused by a stagnant ‘move-up’ market could be broken and the field could soon be wide open,” says Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.
Ken Trepeta, director of Real Estate Services for the National Association of Realtors, explains that move-up buyers are eligible for the tax credit as long as the home being sold or vacated was their principal residence for five consecutive years within the last eight. “To elaborate, it must be the same home,” says Trepeta. “It is not enough that they have been homeowners for five consecutive years, they must have been in the same home for five consecutive years.” McDonald and Trepeta underscore the important fact that current homeowners need not sell their existing home in order to take advantage of the credit. They may keep it and rent it for additional profit.
Getting the Word Out
For the tax credit to succeed in buoying the real estate market, it is essential for brokers and agents to aggressively market the benefits—and the deadlines—of the legislation to consumers.
At Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, Managing Partner Joe Rand, an attorney, has developed a home buyer tax credit website—www.homebuyertaxcredit.com—and a “Home Buyer Tax Credit Eligibility Test” that will let buyers know if they qualify. If they do, the program will provide an instant option to download the proper tax documents.
To get the word out about the website, the Rands are budgeting $100,000 of the firm’s marketing budget to broadcast media—specifically radio. “We’ve seen a lot of general interest in buying a home,” says Greg Rand. “Right now, if people aren’t aware or clear on the tax credit, they’ll seek out a source that explains it quickly—that, in turn, might just make our company a bit stickier.” Educating consumers on the tax credit is compulsory and many real estate experts are leading that charge.
“The bottom line for all consumers is ‘how does this impact me?’” says Bonnell. “We’re trying to help them answer that and we’re getting excellent results. I put on webinars to the general public—buyers, sellers, investors, etc.—twice on the second Tuesday of every month. On it, we go over the changes since the new adjustment. They can submit questions during the webinars and we typically answer them right there.”
Misunderstanding or confusion over the details of the tax credit can prevent many consumers from pursuing a home purchase. As Perriello says, “As professionals, it is our obligation to make sure we properly communicate the new tax credit details because an educated consumer is an empowered consumer.”
Industry leaders have high hopes for the extended and expanded tax credit, believing it may be just what the housing market needs to make its way out of the trough in 2010. But time is of the essence—and that’s all part of the plan.
“It is important that there is a clear time limit for the tax credit because the purpose of this economic stimulus is to jump-start momentum in the housing market and the economy,” says Perriello. “The expanded home buyer tax credit is intended to provide an incentive for a broader pool of home buyers to make a home purchasing decision in the early part of the year. Otherwise, lacking the urgency of such a deadline, more potential buyers might stay on the sidelines.”
“We expect the tax credit to continue to encourage home buyers to enter the housing market through the extension dates, then the typical spring market should take hold and the housing industry will help carry us further out of the recession if conditions remain stable,” says McDonald.
“The extended and expanded home buyer tax credit should help increase demand, stimulate home sales and, ultimately, reduce inventory levels,” adds Perriello. “In turn, this should help stabilize home sales prices. Those are all necessary steps that need to occur before we can have a sustainable long-term recovery in the market.”