National Flood Insurance Program Expired – Again!

Congress has done it AGAIN!

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) cannot issue new policies, increase coverage on existing policies or renew policies. The U.S. Congress failed to extend the program by the March 28 deadline and adjourned for Easter recess until April 12.

Industry leaders are hopeful that the Senate will pass a House bill that would retroactively reauthorize the program during a tentatively scheduled April 12 evening vote.

Any closings of homes that are being sold in the flood area will more than likely be delayed, unless the buyer has already purchased the policy prior to the deadline.  Stay tuned!

Hurry to Get Your Tax Credit – Five Essential Tips!

With the expanded homebuyer federal income tax credit currently in effect for first-time and qualified repeat buyers, NOW is the perfect time to consider making that big purchase, your first, or next, home.  Spring has sprung and we are ready to help you find your dream home AND assist in getting your tax credit!

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial commitments a person can make, but first-time homebuyers and qualified return buyers are in an ideal position to take advantage of unique opportunities in the market, such as the federal tax credit, low interest rates and the choice wide selection of homes for sale.

But before you sign on the dotted line, ERA Coup Agency wants to offer some helpful tips for prospective buyers.

1. Learn more about the current homebuyers’ federal income tax credit

If you are considering purchasing your first home or your next home, learn about the parameters of the temporary homebuyer tax credit, which is one of the provisions of the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act* signed into law on Nov. 6, 2009.

The Homebuyer Tax Credit of up to $8,000 was extended for first time home buyers who sign a binding contract by April 30, 2010 and close on that purchase by June 30, 2010; and expanded to include a $6,500 credit for current qualified homeowners who purchase a new primary residence. Under the terms of the legislation, “current” homeowners must have used the home they have sold, or that is being sold, as their primary residence consecutively for five of the past eight years. In addition, other eligibility requirements apply, including income limits.

The tax credit can help make the American dream of homeownership a reality for potential buyers who previously could not afford the investment.

2. Calculate what you can afford

Before you start searching for your new home, know what you can afford. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, your total monthly mortgage payment — which includes principal, interest, taxes and insurance — should be less than 29 percent of your monthly gross income.

What you can afford is also based on, among other things, how large of a down payment you can make and how much money you can borrow. You can start estimating this figure by using an online affordability or loan calculator. This calculator can help compute what may fit comfortably within your budget based on factors such as annual income, debts, interest rates and credit score. Though Internet calculators and statistics are good references, it is recommended that you consult a financial advisor to determine exactly how much you can afford. **

3. Choose a neighborhood

After you determine your home buying budget, think about where you want to live. Are you going to stay in your current neighborhood, or do you want to hit the open road and start fresh? No matter what, you should thoroughly research the demographics of the area. Some additional factors to consider are how far you will be from work, shopping, activities of interest to you — and if you have children, which school district you prefer.

4. Make a wish list of needs and wants

Early in the home-searching process, list your basic needs such as minimum square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, location and of course, the price you can afford. Leading real estate Web sites such as ERA.com have guided property searches that allow you to choose one or more of these criteria. If there are features that you would love to have in your home, but could live without, put them on your “want” list. This includes things like a pool, big yard, extra bedroom, etc.

5. Work with an experienced real estate professional

Searching for and purchasing your first or next home is an exciting experience, but it can be overwhelming. To help each step in the home buying process run smoothly, consider working with a seasoned real estate professional. Choose a knowledgeable professional who knows your local market, who has access to the newest listings, and can help you negotiate prices, thus increasing the chances of finding your dream home.

To learn more about home buying and the first-time homebuyer tax credit, contact ERA Coup Agency.

Haven’t found your dream home yet?  START LOOKING today!  It’s a great day to own real estate!

* Unemployment Compensation Extension Act

** Consult with a tax advisor for details

Price of residential new construction just went up!

Prices for new residential construction in Pennsylvania will be rising by an estimated $1.00 to $1.50 per square foot, thanks to a new Pennsylvania mandate.

Pennsylvania will be the first state to make automatic fire sprinkler systems mandatory in all newly constructed one- and two-family houses beginning, Jan. 1, 2011.

Firefighters support the code change saying that the death rate of firefighters in sprinklered homes is 80 percent lower. And the American Insurance Association says property/casualty losses in sprinklered homes are about 45 percent to 70 percent lower compared to non-sprinklered homes.

Neither the National Association of Home Builders nor the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS® supported mandatory sprinkler systems.

This may not be the best time to increase the cost of residential housing.

It seems to us that it would have been better to allow the consumer/new home owner to make the CHOICE, rather than mandate it.  What do you think?

Flood Insurance Back in Business — for now . . .

Real estate closings in flood areas will be allowed to close again — at least for the next 30 days!

Late yesterday the Senate moved forward and approved H.R. 4691. The President signed the bill last night. This bill includes a 30 day extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This means that the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), which manages the flood program is now open to receiving and issuing new business.

We will continue to monitor this situation, as it truly does effect the real estate industry and you as buyers and sellers.

Welcome to the Milton Real Estate Blog!

The hardest part of blogging is to decide what blog about! It is my hope that this information will be on the Milton area as well as real estate.

It will also be great if you guys would ask questions to help keep the dialog alive and the information relevant to what is on the minds of the readers.

One of the first topics that needs to be discussed because it is of major importance for any residential residential buyer.  Potential home buyers who delay have a lot to lose! First-time home buyer and move-up tax credits worth $8,000 and $6,500, respectively, expire April 30.  Buyers who qualify get a dollar-for-dollar reduction in taxes or a cash payment if they don’t pay enough taxes to cover the credit.  Don’t wait — call us to get more details on this very important program.  I don’t see this tax credit being extended again, so HURRY!

Buying a home in the flood area? Too bad —  because right now you can not get flood insurance!  The National Flood Insurance Program expired at the end of February and is out of money.

Congress was expected to renew the program, but the Senate, led by Sen. Jim Bunning, (R- Ken.) has blocked the renewal because passage adds to the deficit.

In places like Milton, the lapse has put home sales in jeopardy because no new policies are authorized and without flood insurance, sales can’t close. Fortunately, most closings are at the end of the month, so Realtors hope the problem will be resolved by then.  Stay tuned!

A New Deli in Milton?

We are hearing that we may have a new deli opening up where the Milltown Deli was located on Broadway, across from ERA Coup Agency.  No further information is known yet — but it should open within a month.  Wow — a new Subway, a new Deli, and in the future the Olde Village Inne!

Another new restaurant will be opening soon on Arch Street — more info later on this one too!  Things are looking up for the downtown!