Friday, November 06, 2009

Existing Homeowners Happy about Extended Tax Credits!

Las Vegas real estate agents and homeowners alike are celebrating the news! It looks like the first time home buyer tax credit will be extended through April 30th of 2010, and more buyers than ever before are now eligible to take advantage of the new credit guidelines. Income caps have been raised from $75,000 to $125,000 for individuals, and from $150,000 to $225,000 for couples. In addition, move up homeowners are going to get a piece of the pie as well. Any homeowner who has owned his home longer than five years can get up to a $6500 credit on the purchase of a new principal residence. (The credit is available for the purchase of principal homes costing less $800,000, and vacation homes do not qualify for the credit.) Homebuyers who qualify must stay in their new homes for at least three years, or they will have to repay the credit.

So what does that mean for the local market? The inventory of Las Vegas homes for sale has already dwindled dramatically in the third quarter of 2009, with less than 8,500 single family homes on the market at the end of October, down from a high of over 25,000 in October of 2007. Price decreases of more than 50% in the market lured investors back into circulation during 2009, and first time homebuyers, squeezed out during the boom, took advantage of affordable pricing. Competition for Las Vegas foreclosures has been fierce, with multiple offers submitted on properties under $250,000. (One property received a record 75 offers in less than three days on the market!)

One of the most frustrating aspects of the market during the past year, for both buyers and agents, has been trying to get an offer accepted. With more than 80% of the properties for sale being either bank owned foreclosures or short sales, the process has been arduous to say the least. Many buyers on short sales have waited over 6 months waiting for bank approval only to have the short sale package denied or to find out that the bank had foreclosed on it, even though there was a valid contract in escrow. And in some cases the sellers have “disappeared” prior to closing since they are getting no money out of the sale. Most buyers have had to put in more than a dozen offers on properties before finally getting one accepted. Plus the banks are writing all the rules. Negotiators are requiring full preapprovals from Las Vegas mortgage lenders before they will even consider an offer. And buyers are taking homes in “as is, where is” condition with no repairs made and no warranties or recourse against the sellers.

With any luck the new tax credit for move up buyers will stimulate “real sellers” to put their existing homes on the market. They will be pleasantly surprised to find that they are able to command more money for their homes than the bank repos and short sales, as frustrated agents and buyers will be zeroing in quickly to claim a “normal” transaction without all the headaches and hoops of the repos and short sales. Higher sales prices for homes should stabilize the market as well, and may even lead to increases by the time spring buying season rolls around. So break out the champagne and the paint brushes!