Friday, February 5, 2010


1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

2. Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.

3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste ... And taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.

4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it.

5. If it snows while you're out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.

6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don't let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it's set. That makes it too easy.

7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom-and your jewelry. It's not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.

8. It's raining, you're fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door-understandable. But understand this: I don't take a day off because of bad weather.

9. I always knock first. If you answer, I'll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters.

10. Do you really think I won't look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.

11. Here's a helpful hint: I almost never go into kids' rooms.

12. You're right: I won't have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it's not bolted down, I'll take it with me.

13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you're reluctant to leave your TV on while you're out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television.

1. Sometimes, I carry a clipboard.. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.

2. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors.

3. I'll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he'll stop what he's doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn't hear it again, he'll just go back to what he was doing. It's human nature.

4. I'm not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?

5. I love looking in your windows.. I'm looking for signs that you're home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I'd like. I'll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.

6. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It's easier than you think to look up your address.

7. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it's an invitation.
8. If you don't answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.

Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina , Oregon , California , and Kentucky ; security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs ; and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis , who interviewed 105 burglars for his book Burglars on the job .

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

House Logic

Here's an interesting site....

Check out for some interesting tools pertaining to home ownership. Then let me know what you think.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ohio Housing Grants for Grads Program

Ohio is seeking to keep more natives in the Buckeye State after college with a new program that lightens the load for home-buying graduates.
The Ohio Housing Finance Agency opened up the Grants for Grads program, an initiative that gives any graduate of an Ohio high school a 2.5 percent break on the purchase price of a home within 18 months of graduating from college. Grads don’t receive the full benefit of the break, which helps with down-payment and closing costs, unless they stay in the house for at least five years.

The program got a final legislative OK as a part of the two-year budget Gov. Ted Strickland signed in July. Erin Biehl, a spokeswoman for the agency, said $1 million initially has been set aside for the program but officials hope it will eventually become self-sustaining.

The agency, which provides tax credits for housing developments, mortgages and down-payment assistance to buyers, will issue the grants in the form of zero-percent second mortgage loans to homebuyers who get a first mortgage through a lender affiliated with the agency within 18 months of receiving an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral or other postgraduate degree.

The aid comes in the form of a mortgage loan that’s forgivable after five years, Biehl said, because the agency is then able to track if borrowers move out of state. Those who leave Ohio before the five-year window is up are required to pay back part of the grant.
Strickland said in a release that the program is a way to “better position the state to meet the needs of future graduates as they make plans to build their personal and professional lives in Ohio after college.”

“Retaining educated and qualified graduates will also help to attract new jobs and prevent others from leaving the state,” Strickland said.

While the grant applies to Ohioans regardless of where they attended college, research indicates the risk of “brain drain” is high even for students who attend college in-state. A survey released this summer by the Washington, D.C.-based Thomas B. Fordham Institute think tank found that 51 percent of in-state students say they’ll look elsewhere for jobs after graduation. Of those surveyed, 60 percent said down-payment help would be an attractive incentive for staying in Ohio.

The agency has put income and purchase price restrictions on the program that vary from county to county. In Franklin County, for example, a one- or two-person family can’t participate if annual income is higher than $82,320, while the maximum purchase price for a new or existing home is $298,180. That would value the state’s incentive at up to $7,455.

For more information, go to:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More Tax Credit Extension Details

It's official. President Obama has signed a bill that extends the tax credit for first-time homebuyers (FTHBs) into the first half of 2010. This program had been scheduled to expire on November 30, 2009.

In addition to extending the tax credit of up to $8,000 through June 30, 2010, the extension measure also opens up opportunities for others who are not buying a home for the first time.
So Who Gets What? The program that has existed for FTHBs remains intact with the one exception that more people are now eligible based on an increase in the amount of income someone may now earn.

Additionally, the program now gives those who already own a residence some additional reasons to move to a new home. This incentive comes in the form of a tax credit of up to $6,500 for qualified purchasers who have owned and occupied a primary residence for a period of five consecutive years during the last eight years.
Deadlines In order to qualify for the credit, all contracts need to be in effect no later than April 30, 2010 and close no later than June 30, 2010.

Higher Income Caps in Effect
The amount of income someone can earn and qualify for the full amount of the credit has been increased.
Single tax filers who earn up to $125,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, single filers who earn $145,000 and above are ineligible.
Joint filers who earn up to $225,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, joint filers who earn $245,000 and above are ineligible.

Maximum Purchase Price
Qualifying buyers may purchase a property with a maximum sales price of $800,000.
First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit – Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about the tax credit.

What is a tax credit?
A tax credit is a direct reduction in tax liability owed by an individual to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In the event no taxes are owed, the IRS will issue a check for the amount of the tax credit an individual is owed. Unlike the tax credit that existed in 2008, this credit does not require repayment unless the home, at any time in the first 36 months of ownership, is no longer an individual's primary residence.

What is the tax credit for first-time homebuyers (FTHBs)?
An eligible homebuyer may request from the IRS a tax credit of up to $8,000 or 10% of the purchase price for a home. If the amount of the home purchased is $75,000, the maximum amount the credit can be is $7,500. If the amount of the home purchased is $100,000, the amount of the credit may not exceed $8,000.

Who is eligible for the FTHB tax credit?
Anyone who has not owned a primary residence in the previous 36 months, prior to closing and the transfer of title, is eligible. This applies both to single taxpayers and married couples. In the case where there is a married couple, if either spouse has owned a primary residence in the last 36 months, neither would qualify. In the case where an individual has owned property that has not been a primary residence, such as a second home or investment property, that individual would be eligible.

As mentioned above, the tax credit has been expanded so that existing homeowners who have owned and occupied a primary residence for a period of five consecutive years during the last eight years are now eligible for a tax credit of up to $6,500.

How do I claim the credit?
For those taking advantage of the tax credit in 2009, you may choose to either apply for the credit with your 2009 tax return or you may apply for the credit sooner by filing an amended 2008 tax return with Form 5405 (

Can you claim the tax credit in advance of purchasing a property?
No. The IRS has recently begun prosecuting people who have claimed credits where a purchase had not taken place.

Can a taxpayer claim a credit if the property is purchased from a seller with seller financing and the seller retains title to the property?
Yes. In situations where the buyer purchases the property, even though the seller retains legal title, the taxpayer may file for the credit. Examples of this would include a land contract, contract for deed, etc.
According to the IRS, factors that would demonstrate the ownership of the property would include:
1. the right of possession,
2. the right to obtain legal title upon full payment of the purchase price,
3. the right to construct improvements,
4. the obligation to pay property taxes,
5. the risk of loss,
6. the responsibility to insure the property and
7. the duty to maintain the property.

Are there other restrictions to taking the credit?
Yes. According to the IRS, if any of the following describe your situation, a credit would not be due.
You buy your home from a close relative. This includes your spouse, parent, grandparent, child or grandchild.
You do not use the home as your principal residence.
You sell your home before the end of the year.
You are a nonresident alien.
You are, or were, eligible to claim the District of Columbia first-time homebuyer credit for any taxable year. (This does not apply for a home purchased in 2009.)
Your home financing comes from tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds. (This does not apply for a home purchased in 2009.)
You owned a principal residence at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase of your new home. For example, if you bought a home on July 1, 2009, you cannot take the credit for that home if you owned, or had an ownership interest in, another principal residence at any time from July 2, 2006, through July 1, 2009.

Can you buy a home from a step-relative and be eligible for the credit?
Yes. Provided the person you are buying a home from is not a direct blood relative, the purchase would be allowed.

Can parent(s) who will not live in the property cosign for a mortgage
for their child and the child that is a qualifying FTHB still be eligible for the credit?

Can a separated spouse who has not owned a home for four years qualify
for the FTHB tax credit if the spouse has owned a property anytime in the last three years?
No. However, the spouse may be eligible for the repeat buyer credit.
The best path to take in any situation regarding income taxes is to speak with a professional tax preparer or CPA.

If you have any questions that fall outside the situations here, give me a call and if you do not have an accountant to speak with, I can refer you to one.

Federal Tax Credit Extended & Expanded

The federal tax credit program (extension and expansion) for home buyers was signed into law on Nov. 6, 2009.

As you know, the extended and expanded program is available to both first-time buyers AND existing homeowners (who qualify). There are income limits.

The tax credit is available for “principal” residences only (vacation homes and rental properties are excluded). Maximum purchase price is $800,000.

Click on the link below to access the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) most recent memorandum on this subject matter. IRS is currently updating related info, but for now, click below:,,id=204671,00.html?portlet=7

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Must Close by November 30, 2009 to take advantage of $8,000 Federal Mortgage Incentive

Since Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, many have seized the opportunity offered by the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers. When you factor in today's historically-low interest rates and housing affordability with the financial opportunities
"It's hard to imagine a better time than right now to be a first-time buyer," said Jim Weichert, president and founder of Weichert, REALTORS. "Mortgage rates and home prices are all favorable. Recent economic news is encouraging and the government is providing a large financial incentive.
In addition to taking advantage of the tax credit, another reason for first-time buyers to consider making a purchase now are the recent signs of a stabilizing real estate market. Last week, NAR announced that home sales increased in 39 states in the second quarter of the year compared to the first. Last month, the S&P/Case-Shiller index showed an increase
Source: Weichert REALTORS

Friday, May 29, 2009

$8,000 Credit Toward Down Payment and Closing Costs

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Shaun Donovan, announced today that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will allow homebuyers to apply the federal $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit toward the purchse costs of an FHA insured home loan.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 offers home buyers a tax credit of up to $8,000 for purchasing their first home. Buyers can access this credit after filing their tax returns with the IRS. Today's announcement details FHA's rules allowing state finance housing agencies to "monetize" up to the full amount of the tax credit so that the borrowers can immediately apply the funds toward their down payment. Home buyers using FHA-approved lenders can apply tax credit to their down payment in excess of 3.5% required of their own funds which can help reduce their interest rate or lower their borrowed amount. To read the FHA's new mortgagee letter please visit HUD's website.

Currently, borrowers applying for an FHA insured mortgage are required to make a minimum down payment of 3.5%. Current law does not permit approved lenders to monetize the tax credit to meet the required 3.5% minimum down payment; but under the terms of today's announcement lenders can now monetize the tax credit for use as additional down payment, or for other closing costs. In addition to the borrower's own cash investment, FHA allows parents, employers and other governmental entities to contribute towards the down payment. This program will allow home buyers to shop for the best price and services using their anticipated tax credit. These purchases may also free up existing home owners to purchase another home because a first time buyer purchased their home.

For a personalized discussion about how this may affect your own situation please call the Schrand Team at 513-347-1715.