Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 11, 2012
By Nathaniel Popper Los Angeles Times
NEW YORK — The U.S. housing market disappointed Warren Buffett last year, but he hasn’t given up hope.
Buffett said in his annual shareholder letter, posted last weekend, that he was “dead wrong” when he predicted last year that the rebound in U.S. home prices would begin within a year.
This year, though, he’s betting again that the housing market will recover, and for an interesting reason: hormones.
As Buffett explains it, the housing market is depressed because young Americans have stayed at home rather than leaving their parents to set setting up their own households.
“People may postpone hitching up during uncertain times, but eventually hormones take over,” Buffett wrote in the letter to the shareholders in his investment company Berkshire Hathaway.
“And while ‘doubling-up’ may be the initial reaction of some during a recession, living with in-laws can quickly lose its allure.”
That is not the entirety of his argument.
He also says homebuilders are not creating enough new supply. As a result, the excess housing inventory that built up after the financial crisis is slowly disappearing, paving the way for new demand.
During a recent appearance on CNBC, Buffett said he would buy up millions of U.S. homes if it were possible.
New data seemed to support Buffett’s contention. The National Association of Realtors reported that the number of people buying used homes in January rose to a 21-month high.
Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 25, 2012
By: David Bakke, Money Crashers
Regardless of the current state of our economy and the housing market, buying a home is still a great investment. However, the resulting taxes that accompany owning a home can lead to confusion and uncertainty.
In most cases, you need to itemize your taxes in order to take advantage of all the tax breaks that accompany home ownership. This might seem overwhelming, but the benefits of completing this process make up for the inconvenience.
Tax Breaks for Homeowners:
1. Mortgage Interest Deduction
Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) is a top tax break for homeowners, which can save you a significant amount of money. In the beginning, the majority of your monthly mortgage payments go toward loan interest, and you can deduct all the interest from your mortgage on your taxes. Keep Form 1098, issued by your lender, with your important records. This form explains exactly how much you can deduct and serves as proof if you are audited by the IRS.
2. Mortgage Insurance Premiums
Homeowners with new mortgages with a loan-to-value ratio higher than 80% must carry some form of private mortgage insurance (PMI). This insurance protects the lender against loan default. Typically, once you reach 20% equity in your home, you can avoid paying private mortgage insurance.
Until you reach that level of equity, if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $100,000 (or $50,000, if married filing separately), you may be able to deduct the amount that you paid. If you surpass that income level, the deduction is either reduced or eliminated. If your AGI is $109,000 ($54,500, if married filing separately) then the deduction goes away altogether.
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Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 24, 2012
By: Robert Gladstein
The south end of Lake Washington boasts an exciting new regional trail connection.
A newly completed section of the Logan Avenue Trail nearly completes the connection between Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park and the Cedar River Trail. This multi-purpose trail follows the west side of Logan Avenue North from N. 6th St., a block from The Landing, to the Logan Avenue Bridge.
A connecting, existing 4-mile bike lane provides access to housing, retail, commercial, and to the Boeing 737 plant. In this section, Boeing provided an easement to the City of Renton to enable this 5’ wide bike lane construction.
The newest link, connecting to and extending further south includes an art installation called “Wings and Wheels,” with inlaid bronze sculptures that encourage trail users to learn about the history of airplanes built and flown nearby. The trail in this segment is a 12’ wide, multi-use trail, separated from Logan Avenue North by a landscaped border.
The goal is to create a continuous bicycle route from Maple Valley to Renton, and north along Lake Washington to Newcastle and Bellevue, or around the southwest end of Lake Washington to the City of Seattle, as part of the Lake Washington Loop System – and connecting to the Burke-Gilman Trail.
Also in the design and planning stages is the Lake to Sound Trail system, which will connect the cities of Des Moines, SeaTac, Burien, Tukwila and Renton – hence the name Lake to Sound
Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: December 4, 2011
By: Marc Takeuchi
Paying off the mortgage early is in. Refinancing to take money out of our homes is out. Living through the foreclosure crisis, more people want the security and the psychological benefit of owning their home free and clear.
If you want to pay off your mortgage early, you’ll find plenty of experts recommending ways to do it. All strategies work, but you’ll find some methods of paying off your mortgage are safer, faster, and more painless than others.
Compare these ways you can pay off your mortgage early, starting with the simplest and moving toward the most complex.
If you want to see magic, start playing with mortgage calculators and see how adding a little payment to your principal here and there can shorten the length of your loan. You can use Bankrate.com’s mortgage loan payoff calculator to see how $100 or any other amount added to your payment reduces your interest and shortens the length of your loan.
If you pay a little more principal, you get a bonus. The lower your principal gets, the more every payment from then on is applied to principal, as less goes to cover interest expense.
If nothing else, round your payments up, recommends Tracy Piercy, CFP and CEO of MoneyMinding.com. She says that when people have a payment for $644, they think of it as $650. Why not just pay $650, then? An extra $6 a month on a $200,000, 30-year loan can save you four payments at the end of the mortgage loan.
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Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: October 3, 2011
By: Marc Takeuchi
We are often asked “Is it time to sell my home?” The answer to that question is based on what your families’ goals are. If you don’t need or want to move for a few years it might make sense to wait for the housing industry to recover and prices to appreciate. However, if you wish to move within the next six to eighteen months, it is probably better to sell sooner rather than later. Here are five reasons why:
Your House Will Get More Exposure Now Than the Winter
Housing sales usually level off in the summer and then regain momentum in September and October. The spring buyers’ market has passed. Don’t miss the early fall market. It has consistently outperformed the winter season.
Distressed Properties Will Impact Prices
Distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) on the market will increase this fall and winter. This will put tremendous downward pressure on prices for at least the next 12-18 months. Get your home sold before they become your competition.
Mortgages Will Become More Difficult to Attain
Lending standards are continuing to tighten. There is legislation currently being considered that will make it even harder for buyers to qualify. Less demand will equate to lower prices.
It is the Perfect Time to Move-Up
With prices where they are and interest rates at all time lows, there may have never been a better time to move-up into your dream home. If you move into a more desirable home now, you will be in position to gain larger equity as prices eventually appreciate.
You Get to Move On with Your Life
Probably the most important reason to sell is so you can get on with your life. You are considering selling for a reason. Do not allow a less-than-stellar housing market prevent you from reaching your goals as an individual or as a family. Think about the reasons you are thinking about moving. Are these reasons really important to you? If you have to take less than you were originally hoping to get for your house, your family has a question to ask each other: Is the dollar difference in sales price worth putting off our plans? Only you and your family know the answer to that question