Thursday, January 29, 2009

First-Time Homebuyers to Get Tips from Industry Professionals

In case you missed last week's post, the Community Action Project of Tulsa County will hold a Homebuyer Education Seminar.

People who have signed up for the free program will receive orientation and a financial readiness assessment from a CAP counselor. Then, they attend this seminar to help guide them through the steps of a home purchase.

Kathryn Jones and Christine Baker of Coldwell Banker Select will teach those in attendance about how a successful home search works.

John Buchanan, Jr. of Country Financial will review what to look for in homeowners' insurance and how to shop properly.

I, Tim Epps of Fairway Mortgage, will talk with the audience about how to obtain the best loan available for their situation and how the mortgage market and process works.

Based on where they select a home, those that enroll and complete this program can be eligible for up to $3500 in down payment assistance from CAP.

With all of the constant changes in real estate, insurance and mortgages, this program can help all buyers get up to date. The adage that "all real estate is local" has never been more true. Values in Oklahoma have not seen the precipitous drops that the largest 10 and 20 markets have seen. Those markets reported in the Case-Schiller Index also saw precipitous rises in value while Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and the rest of the state saw our home values rise at a modest, sustainable rate.

Mortgage guidelines are updated mainly on what happens in the market as a whole, so we are not immune from what happens outside of Oklahoma. But money is still available. Good loans (with good rates and terms) are available for most borrowers.

If you think you may want to buy a home, first time or not, check in to the Community Action Project of Tulsa County's Homebuyer Education Program. It will prepare you for everything they don't show you on House Hunters or Property Virgins.

Tim Epps

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Help for First-Time Homebuyers (Repeat Homebuyers Will Learn Also)

Do you dream of owning a new home, but worry that you will not qualify for a mortgage?

Do you need downpayment and closing cost assistance?

Do you live in Oklahoma?

Hope has arrived! No, not the hope that was sworn in yesterday. This hope is brought to you by the various community action agencies in Oklahoma. I am writing today about the Tulsa area agency specifically, but similar programs are available throughout the state. See the Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies website for details on your local program.

The Community Action Project of Tulsa County provides a tremendous program to educate potential buyers on homeownership and how to prepare themselves for it.

Education consists of:

  • Housing Orientation - offered several times per month.
  • Financial Readiness Assessment - a housing counselor reviews your credit report, assists with discrepancies and develops a plan of action to build and/or repair your credit.
  • Homebuyer Education Seminar - covers budgeting, money management, finding the right loan, finding the right home, insuring your purchase, and the steps to take to ensure a smooth process.

This education can be invaluable to anyone in the market for a new home. How many of us did it exactly right the first time? Do you even remember all of the pitfalls and hurdles? How much has changed since then?

If you are a first-time homebuyer, you can get up to $3500 toward your down payment and/or closing costs! Simply complete the CAP program, purchase a home within CAP's service area, qualify for financing, and meet income guidelines. (Down payment assistance funds are subject to availability and the purchased property must be your primary residence.)

Coupled with the $7500 (maximum) tax credit you can get from the IRS, you can receive up to $11,000 toward your first home if you buy before June 30, 2009!

Call Shelli Davidson at the Community Action Project, 918-382-3240, for more information and scheduling. Classes can fill up fast (and funds for down payment assistance are limited), so call today to reserve your spot. [I understand that the speakers at the next session (January 31, 2009) are full of great information for Tulsa area first-time homebuyers!]

Have you been through this program? How did it help you? Please comment below.

Tim Epps

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Only 4 Months Left to Earn $7500 from Your Rich Uncle!

Have you been looking for a home? Thinking about it? It is your first home (or have you not owned a home in 3 years)?

STOP! Stop looking & considering. Start FINDING one.

If you are a first time homebuyer, you must close on the purchase of your first home by the end of June* to earn a $7500 tax credit. Note that this is a CREDIT not a deduction. If you are expecting a refund, it will increase your refund by the amount of your credit. If you will owe taxes on your 1040, your taxes will be reduced by the amount of the credit and you will receive a refund if due. Before I continue, as with any tax advice here or from any source that is not your trusted professional, you should review this with your trusted professional to apply to your situation.

First time home buyers (and those that have not owned a home in the last 3 years) can claim a tax credit of 10% of the purchase price of their primary residence. The maximum credit is $7500 and there are income limitations on who can claim.

EXTRA GOOD NEWS - Already buy your first home? Did you buy it after April 9, 2008? You can claim this credit also!

MORE EXTRA GOOD NEWS - If you buy your home in time to claim this credit, you can use the credit on your 2008 taxes even though your purchase may be in 2009! This will get the money in your hands sooner!

The catch? (Isn't there always one from Uncle Sam?) You have to pay this credit back - over 15 years. However, you don't have to start paying it back until 2 years after your claim year. The payback is done every year on your 1040, so you can adjust your withholding to take an extra $10/week if you think that may pose a problem when you file. If you sell your home before then and make a profit (above all costs to sell), you have to pay back the amount you still owe on your claim. There are other payback forgiveness provisions, but that again is where your trusted professional should step in to advise you. He needs to earn his money, too.

At worst case, this is a 15-year, interest-free loan. At best case, this can help you redecorate and set up your new home the way you want it!

If you have not yet begun working with a Realtor, let me know. I can refer you to one that will be invaluable in your search efforts and advise you properly on the selection of and offer for your new home.

*So, why only 4 months left if the clock stops at the end of June? Because you must CLOSE your purchase by then. It generally takes 30 days from offer to close (although we can perform faster in many cases).

Comment below or let me know if you have any questions that I can help with.

Tim Epps