California Foreclosure Activity Declines in Q1 2010

California Foreclosure Activity Declines Again
April 20, 2010

Lending institutions started formal foreclosure proceedings on fewer California homes last quarter. It is unclear how much of the drop can be attributed to shifts in market conditions, and how much is because of changing policies, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 81,054 Notices of Default (“NODs”) were recorded at county recorder offices during the January-to-March period. That was down 4.2 percent from 84,568 for the prior quarter, and down 40.2 percent from 135,431 in first-quarter 2009, according to San Diego-based MDA DataQuick.

The year-ago number is the highest in DataQuick’s statistics, which go back to 1992 for NODs. The quarterly average is 44,041, while the low of recent years was 12,417 in third-quarter 2004, when housing market annual appreciation rates were around 20 percent.

“Several factors are at play here and it’s hard to know how they play into each other right now. A year-and-a-half ago the subprime loan mess was the black hole. Now, playing catch-up, is the financial distress households are experiencing because of the recession. Add to the mix shifting policy decisions, both by lending institutions and in public policy,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president.

“We are seeing signs that the worst may be over in the hard-hit entry-level markets, while problems are slowly spreading to more expensive neighborhoods. We’re also seeing some lenders become more accommodating to work-outs or short sales, while others appear to be getting stricter about delinquencies. It’s very noisy out there,” Walsh said.

The state’s most affordable sub-markets, which represent 25 percent of the state’s housing stock, accounted for 47.5 percent of all default activity a year ago. In first-quarter 2010 that fell to 40.9 percent.

California’s mid- to high-end housing markets were more likely to have seen a rise in mortgage defaults last quarter, though the concentration of default activity – measured by defaults per 1,000 homes – remained relatively low in those areas.

For example, zip codes statewide with median home sale prices of $500,000-plus saw mortgage defaults buck the overall trend and rise 1.5 percent last quarter compared with the prior quarter, while year-over-year the decline was 19 percent (versus a 40.2 percent marketwide annual decrease). Collectively, these zips saw 4.5 default notices filed for every 1,000 homes in the community, compared with the overall market’s rate of 9.3 NODs for every 1,000 homes statewide.

In zip codes with medians below $500,000, mortgage default filings fell 5.8 percent from the prior quarter and declined nearly 43 percent from a year earlier. However, collectively these zips saw 10.5 NODs filed for every 1,000 homes – more than double the default rate for the zips with $500,000-plus medians.

On primary mortgages, California homeowners were a median five months behind on their payments when the lender filed the NOD. The borrowers owed a median $14,066 in back payments on a median $330,147 mortgage.

On home equity loans and lines of credit in default, borrowers owed a median $3,897 on a median $64,422 credit line. However the amount of the credit line that was actually in use cannot be determined from public records.

While many of the loans that went into default during first-quarter 2010 were originated in early 2007, the median origination month for last quarter’s defaulted loans was July 2006, the same month as during the prior four quarters.

San Diego-based MDA DataQuick is a division of MDA Lending Solutions, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates. MDA DataQuick monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts. Notices of Default are recorded at county recorders offices and mark the first step of the formal foreclosure process.

Although 81,054 default notices were filed last quarter, they involved 79,457 homes because some borrowers were in default on multiple loans (e.g. a primary mortgage and a line of credit). Multiple default recordings on the same home are trending down, DataQuick reported.

Following a historical pattern, mortgages were least likely to go into default in Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties. The probability was highest in Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.

The number of Trustees Deeds (TDs) recorded, which reflect the number of houses or condo units lost to the foreclosure process, totaled 42,857 during the first quarter. That was down 16.1 percent from 51,060 for the prior quarter, and down 1.7 percent from 43,620 for first-quarter 2009. The all-time peak was 79,511 in third-quarter 2008.

In the last real estate cycle, Trustees Deeds peaked at 15,418 in third-quarter 1996. The state’s all-time low was 637 in the second quarter of 2005, MDA DataQuick reported.

There are 8.5 million houses and condos in California.

On average, homes foreclosed on last quarter spent 7.5 months winding their way through the formal foreclosure process, beginning with an NOD. A year ago it was 6.8 months. The increase could reflect, among other things, lender backlogs and extra time needed to pursue possible loan modifications and short sales.

Foreclosure resales accounted for 42.6 percent of all California resale activity last quarter. It was up from a revised 40.6 percent the prior quarter, and down from 57.8 percent a year ago, the peak. Foreclosure resales varied significantly by county last quarter, from 13.8 percent in San Francisco to 67.7 percent in Merced.

At formal foreclosure auctions last quarter, an estimated 24.6 percent of foreclosed properties went to investors and others who do not appear to be lender or government entities. That’s up from an estimated 17.6 percent a year ago.

The lenders that originated the most loans that went into default last quarter were Countrywide (7,282), World Savings (6,459), Washington Mutual (6,371), Wells Fargo (5,204) and Bank of America (3,851). These were also the most active lenders in the second half of 2006, and their default rates were well below 10 percent.

Smaller subprime lenders had far higher default rates for that period: ResMAE Mortgage, Ownit Mortgage, Master Financial, First NLC Financial Services and Fieldstone Mortgage all had default rates of more than 65 percent of the loans they originated in the second half of 2006. These and most other subprime lenders are long gone.

Most of the loans made in 2006 are owned or serviced by institutions other than those that made the loans. The servicers pursuing the highest number of defaults last quarter were ReconTrust Co., Cal-Western Reconveyance and NDEx West, MDA DataQuick reported.

Notices of Default (first step in foreclosure process)
houses and condos

Trustees Deeds Recorded (signal homes were lost to foreclosure)
houses and condos

Source: DQNews.com (DataQuick Information Systems)

Southern California Home Sales for March 2010

More Incremental Gains for Southland Real Estate Market

April 13, 2010

Home sales and prices continued their steady but pokey climb up from the bottom in Southern California last month as buyers scrambled to take advantage of low prices and low mortgage interest rates. The market is still tilted toward low-cost distress sales, but not by as much as previously, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 20,476 new and resale homes sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was up 33.3 percent from 15,359 in February, and up 5.0 percent from 19,506 in March 2009, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego.

Sales always go up from February to March. Last month was the 21st in a row with a year-over-year sales increase. The March sales average is 24,936 going back to 1988, when DataQuick’s statistics begin.

“It’s a reflection of just how grim things got, that we’ve now had almost two years of sales gains and we’re still 18 percent below the sales average. The market won’t rebalance until mortgage lending patterns normalize, and that’s just not happening yet. Some of the best deals out there right now are happening when the buyer comes in with cash,” said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president.

The median price paid for a Southland home was $285,000 last month, up 3.6 percent from $275,000 in February, and up 14.0 percent from $250,000 for March 2009.

The median peaked at $505,000 in mid 2007 and appears, so far, to have bottomed out at $247,000 in April last year. The peak-to-trough drop in the median was due to a decline in home values as well as a shift in sales toward low-cost homes, especially foreclosures.

Foreclosure resales accounted for 38.4 percent of the resale market last month, down from 42.3 percent in February, and down from 54.8 percent a year ago. The all-time high was in February 2009 at 56.7 percent.

As sales of lower-cost foreclosure properties have waned over the past year, activity has picked up from very low levels in many high-end areas. Last month sales of homes priced at $500,000 or more made up 19.4 percent of all Southland transactions, compared with 18.5 percent in February and 14.9 percent in March 2009. Over the past five years, $500,000-plus deals averaged 35 percent of monthly sales, while over the past 10 years they averaged 26 percent of all transactions.

Higher-end sales are still hampered by the troubled jumbo loan market, which has improved only modestly over the past year. Jumbo loans, mortgages above the old conforming limit of $417,000, accounted for 15.7 percent of last month’s purchase lending, up from 14.8 percent in February and from 10.5 percent in March 2009. However, before the credit crisis in the fall of 2007, jumbos accounted for 40 percent of the market.

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) haven’t come close to recovering from the credit crunch, either. While 44.6 percent of all Southland purchase mortgages since 2000 have been ARMs, last month they represented just 4.8 percent, up from 4.0 percent in February and 2.1 percent in March last year.

Meanwhile, Uncle Sam continues to prop up lending for many low-to mid-priced homes. Government-insured FHA loans, a popular choice among first-time buyers, accounted for 38.6 percent of all mortgages used to purchase Southland homes in March.

Absentee buyers – mostly investors and some second-home purchasers – bought 21.3 percent of the homes sold in March.

Buyers who appeared to have paid all cash – meaning there was no indication that a corresponding purchase loan was recorded – accounted for 27.1 percent of March sales. In February it was a revised 30.0 percent – an all-time high. The 22-year monthly average for Southland homes purchased with cash is 13.8 percent.

The “flipping” of homes has also trended higher the past year, though it eased a bit in March. Last month the percentage of Southland homes flipped – bought and re-sold – within a three-week to six-month period was 3.2 percent of total sales, down from 3.5 percent in February but up from 1.6 percent a year ago. Last month flipping varied from as little as 2.6 percent of total sales in Riverside County to as much as 3.9 percent in Los Angeles County.

MDA DataQuick, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts.

The typical monthly mortgage payment that Southland buyers committed themselves to paying was $1,220 last month, up from $1,180 for February, and up from $1,074 for March a year ago. Adjusted for inflation, current payments are 45.2 percent below typical payments in the spring of 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. They were 55.1 percent below the current cycle’s peak in July 2007.

Indicators of market distress continue to move in different directions. Foreclosure activity remains high by historical standards but is lower than peak levels reached over the last two years. Financing with multiple mortgages is low, down payment sizes are stable, and non-owner occupied buying is above-average, MDA DataQuick reported.

Source: DQNews.com (DataQuick Information Systems)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger waives state taxes on mortgage debt forgiven in a foreclosure or short sale

There’s good news for thousands of California taxpayers who sell homes at a loss, a practice known as a short sale. A measure (SB 401) signed last week by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger waives state taxes on mortgage debt forgiven in a foreclosure or short sale.

The federal liability waiver for mortgage debt relief is still in place, but the state waiver was set to expire at the end of 2008. The new state provision applies to mortgage debt forgiven by lenders during tax years 2007 to 2012.

Without the tax shelter, the difference between the mortgage debt and sale price on a short sale becomes taxable income. So a state earner making $65,000 who sold a home at a $100,000 loss would be responsible for taxable income of $165,000.

On April 5, the Obama administration expanded the existing Home Affordable Modification Program to include new federal guidelines and incentives for lenders and qualified borrowers. The new Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program helps eligible homeowners avoid foreclosure by providing options for short sales or deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure.

Borrowers are required to be owner-occupants of the principal residence, show financial hardship and have a first lien mortgage originated on or before Jan. 1, 2009 with a principal balance that does not exceed $729,750. In addition, the borrower’s total monthly mortgage payment must be greater than 31% of his or her monthly gross income.

Under the new HAFA program, borrowers can get up to $3,000 in relocation assistance. Service providers can get $1,500 for administrative and processing costs. Forgiven debt that does not exceed the debt used for acquisition, construction or rehabilitation of a principal residence is not taxed as income. (Make sure that you check these guidelines with a tax advisor or the IRS.)

If the home remains unsold despite a good-faith effort by the owner, the lender may accept a title transfer and release the borrower from the debt and further claims through a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. For more information about HAMP programs, visit Making Home Affordable.gov or call (888) 995-4673.

Source: LA Times, Money & Company, On the Market: Short sales

Citi Reports Profit of $4.4 Billion

“After 2 Years of Losses, Citi Reports Profit of $4.4 Billion. Losses in Citigroup’s domestic mortgages and credit units however continued to mount — Citigroup Holding, which contains the bulk of most-troubled mortgage and credit card assets along with businesses marked for sale, lost $876 million.”

The piece goes on to say that the government may soon be selling it’s ownership in the company, some 7.7 billion shares…

After 2 Years of Losses, Citi Reports Profit of $4.4 Billion
New York Times by ERIC DASH
April 19, 2010

After nearly two years of being drenched in red ink, Citigroup provided the strongest signs yet that the troubled bank is beginning to recover as it reported a $4.4 billion profit in the first quarter.

The earnings, which handily beat analyst expectations and were the bank’s best since the financial crisis began, were the result of the resurgence in the bond market and improvements in the economy, particularly overseas. Both play to Citigroup’s strengths as a major player in fixed income and emerging markets, and come as some of its rivals benefited from similar trends. JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America both reported big first-quarter earnings from hefty trading profits and from adding less money to their loan loss reserves.

Full article at NYTimes.com

PVUSD sues Palos Verdes Homes Association & City of PVE

The Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District has filed a lawsuit against the Palos Verdes Homes Association, as well as the city of Palos Verdes Estates, regarding deed restrictions to an undeveloped property at Palos Verdes Drive West and Via Pacheco in PVE. The deed restriction, made in 1938, prevents the sell and development of the lots if they are not used for school purposes.

Today I received an email (below the PV News piece) through Edline, a communication conduit used between teaches, students and parents which favors the district position, names names and I fear seeks to rabble rouse…

Maybe I’m not supposed to express an opinion about such things, but this is flat out nuts!

Regardless of whether the District should or should not have the right to sell, is this really the time to be spending money to litigate? If PVUSD were my client, expressing interest in selling undeveloped land I’d probably say “do you really need to?” This is not a good time to sell and the school district shouldn’t be wasting resources on a win/lose scenario. In the end they’d need to dramatically wholesale the property for a developer to even consider coming to the table.


School District sues over rights to property
By Mary Scott, Peninsula News
April 8, 2010

A dispute about two undeveloped properties, known as Lots C and D, between the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District and the Palos Verdes Homes Association has prompted the School District to file a lawsuit against the association, as well as the city of Palos Verdes Estates, in the Los Angeles Superior Court.

The lots, located in a residential neighborhood between Palos Verdes Drive West and Via Pacheco in PVE, was given to the district’s predecessors by the city and the Homes Association in 1938, according to Superintendent Walker Williams.

The property was handed over, but with restrictions. The deed restriction prevents the sell and development of the lots if they are not used for school purposes.

When the News contacted the Homes Association regarding the lawsuit, the newspaper was told the group had been advised by legal counsel not to comment on the case at this time.

“It’s been a dispute about how this property can or cannot be used for many years,” Williams said. “And we haven’t been able to work it out where we get together and say, ‘OK, do we all agree?’

“We’re hoping that a judge can look at both sides, both arguments and make a determination,” he continued. “Either we’re right or we’re not.”

Williams said the School District owns the lots, although the district never has used them.

“It’s one of the few district properties that we own that is not being used for something right now,” he said.

The School District would like to the explore the possibility of selling the lots, which would be one source of revenue to finish its construction and modernization projects, such as playground renovations, physical education facilities, and the replacement of deteriorated fences and asphalt and concrete surfaces.

However, the properties cannot be sold until the deed restrictions are lifted and the properties are “appropriately rezoned,” Williams said.

The lots currently are zoned as Class F, he added, meaning they can be used for schools, playgrounds, parks, public art galleries, museums or a single-family dwelling.

The superintendent said the district has made attempts to resolve the issue with the association since 2008. But the topic has been ongoing at Board of Education meetings, both in closed and open sessions, as far back as 2005.

“There are [records of] meetings in 2005 with a different Board of Education, directing then-Superintendent Dr. Ira Toibin to try to find out how to sell this property … They were directing Ira to try to sell this property,” Williams said.

As to whether the district agreed upon a lawsuit under “a cloak of secrecy,” as stated in the Concerned Citizens for Peninsula Conservation’s ad in last Thursday’s issue of the News, Williams responded that the vote did take place in a closed session.

“Decisions related to litigation or existing litigation can be decided in a closed session agenda, and so that’s where it took place. It’s not illegal,” he said.

The decision to move forward with the lawsuit, which was voted on at the Jan. 28 board meeting and later reported to the public in open session, is an attempt to resolve the deed restrictions only. The district and the board have not made a decision to sell the property.

“We’ve tried to reach resolution on it, we tried mediation and nothing has worked,” Williams said. “This is where we’re at, at this time.

“Even if a judge rules in our favor, no decision to sell the property has been made,” he continued. “That would be another decision later on.”

There is a process with the state that the district would have to go through before it could do so.

“Really, once and for all, make a decision about what our rights are to the property. We believe we have rights to them; others disagree with us,” Williams said.

From: PV Schools
To: Undisclosed Recipients
Sent: Fri, April 16, 2010 3:35:28 PM
Subject: Update on District Owned Vacant Lots in City of PVE

Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District
April 16, 2010

For many years, the School District has owned two dirt lots between Palos Verdes Drive West and Via Pacheco, known as Lots C & D. The unimproved lots are located in a residential neighborhood. This is a separate and distinct property from the district owned land where the Lunada Bay Little League field is located. Lots C & D are not “open space” property; they belong to the District, and until they are sold, the District is free to use them for any District purpose.

The discussion about whether or not the District should sell Lots C & D, or use it for other purposes, has been going on for many years. Prior school boards, along with the present one, have discussed the potential sale of lots C & D as a possible source of revenue to the District. In fact, as recently as 2005, the school board had the foresight to vote 5-0 to sell the lots. At that time the Board consisted of Gabriella Holt, who is now on the board of the PV Homes Association, Ellen Perkins, who is now on the PVE City Council, Barbara Lucky, Dora de la Rosa, and Dave Tomblin.

District leaders promised during the campaigns for Measures K, R, & S (construction bonds) that they would not place the entire burden of paying for the projects listed in the Facilities Master Plan on the taxpayers. In fact, District leaders promised that they would evaluate ALL other possible sources of revenue in order complete projects that would benefit students throughout the community. If Lots C & D were sold in the future, the proceeds would go towards completing projects on the Facilities Master Plan or other identified construction, modernization, and/or safety needs.

The Homes Association’s CC&R’s applicable to the Property currently allow the property to be used for construction of single family residences. It is the antiquated deed restrictions that are the issue between the Association and the District, not the CC&R’s.

The legal dispute centers on the right of the District to sell the property if it wishes. Realistically, the property cannot be sold unless the deed restrictions are removed and the property is appropriately rezoned. For many years, the District has attempted to persuade the Association to remove the deed restrictions. The District believes that the deed restrictions on the property are no longer enforceable. In an effort to resolve these issues, the District initiated mediation in order to avoid litigation. In fact, mediation was begun between the school district and the homes association in November 2008 in an attempt to amicably resolve the dispute and avoid legal action. No agreement could be reached between the parties. While the representatives of the Homes Association were sympathetic to the District’s financial plight, they were unwilling to voluntarily waive the deed restrictions. At this point, the District and Homes Association invited the City to join the mediation, but the city declined to participate.

When mediation failed, and faced with no other options, the District initiated legal action. The Court has been asked to determine if the deed restrictions are, as the District contends, unenforceable. If the District prevails, the court will remove the deed restrictions. The District will then have clear title to the property.

The property will also need to be rezoned and subdivided into four lots. Although the City has zoning and subdivision control over the property, the District contends that California law requires the City, upon the District’s request, to rezone the property to allow single family residences and to allow the two lots to be separated into four lots, the same size as the neighboring residential lots. Although the City has been added to the lawsuit, the District continues to discuss land use issues with the City and hopes to be able to resolve these issues without a trial.

The District believes its legal position is strong and that the lots can ultimately be sold for between $2-4 million. The school board believes that investing in a legal determination once and for all in order to generate maximum revenue for the benefit of its students is fiscally prudent and the only responsible thing to do.

Realty Check: Televison Hit Show ‘Extreme Makeover’ Downsizes

Interesting, mostly due to the television aspect… In my mind dealing with smaller homes should have broader appeal.

Realty Check: ‘Extreme Makeover’ Downsizes Its Dream Homes
Producers of Hit TV Show See Bad Loans, Dashed Dreams, Default
The Wall Street Journal
April 6, 2010

The house at 10512 Baldy Mountain Rd. in Sandpoint, Idaho, looks like just another vacant foreclosed home. Some appliances, a bathroom mirror and even the hot tub are missing. The dining room of the three-bedroom house has water damage.

But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill problem house. Call it an Extreme Foreclosure. The 3,678-square-foot McMansion is a product of the popular “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” reality television show. It isn’t the only “Extreme” home to fall on hard times.

Each week, an average 9.4 million viewers tune in to ABC-TV for what, over seven seasons, has become a classic formula: Find a struggling family with a heart-tugging story and send them on vacation as an army of volunteers work frantically to replace an existing home with a much nicer and bigger one in just 106 hours. Each episode ends with a dramatic tear-filled tour of the new home, packed with donated furnishings, and outsize extras like a carousel or bowling lanes.

But after the cameras have gone, another trend has been developing: Homeowners struggle to keep up with their expensive new digs. In many cases, the bigger, more lavish homes have come with bigger, more lavish utility bills. And bigger tax assessments. Some homeowners have tapped the equity of their super-sized homes only to fall behind on the higher mortgage payments.

The show’s producers say they are aware of the problem and are making changes appropriate to current economic reality: downsizing.

Back in the boom, the makeovers got a little out of hand because of competition among home builders aware of the free publicity that came with the show and who tried to outdo previous projects. These days, the show is backing away from the boom-era showpieces. We “scaled back,” says Conrad Ricketts, an executive producer for the show created and produced by Endemol USA.

The average size of current makeovers is 2,800 to 3,000 square feet. A 2005 episode featured a house in Lake City, Ga., that became a 5,300-square-foot English castle boasting five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, five fireplaces and an outdoor kitchen. These days, the houses appear more subdued, eschewing over-the-top amenities.

A swimming pool is no longer a must, unless it could be used for therapy. When pools are built, the show explores a well system to help reduce water usage and costs. Lavish landscaping is out, working with the local environment is in. “We’re not going to New Mexico, the desert, and trying to put sod down,” Mr. Ricketts says.

Tracy Hutson, an interior designer who has been with “Extreme Makeover” since the beginning, says homes are receiving more earth-friendly products, such as low water-flow toilets and solar panels, curbing the giant electricity bills that caused a hardship for some families. “I think our hearts were in the right place, but we just got carried way,” says Ms. Hutson. “It can be extreme without being the biggest house you’ve ever seen.”

Back in 2003, the 59-year-old Mr. Ricketts, who has worked in movies and TV for nearly three decades, was looking to develop a home-remodeling series. As he traveled down a “nice street” in Santa Clarita, Calif., he came upon a broken-down house that didn’t seem to fit in. He learned the family had a child battling leukemia, leaving little money for maintenance. “I knew at that moment it was the soul of the TV show,” Mr. Ricketts recalls.

The California family’s home was remodeled for the first episode airing later that year. But soon, remodeling gave way to razing and rebuilding houses, making for more dramatic television during the housing boom. As the show became more popular, donations flowed and builders got more and more ambitious.

It has since become part of pop culture, and, while plenty of makeover shows have come and gone, it remains the most ambitious, well-known and generous of the genre.

It’s also important to ABC when it comes to ratings and selling ads: Among broadcast networks, the show ranks second in the key female demographics and tops with children ages 2 to 11.

Huber Engineered Woods LLC has donated its premium floor, wall and roof products for 25 houses. While TV viewers don’t always see the brand, “connecting with builders and framers on job sites” has led to increased awareness and additional sales, says Matt O’Brien, vice president of commercial operations.

For many families featured on the program, the Extreme Makeover experience has been a dream come true. But for some, the experience has been financially stressful.

Several owners have sought loan modifications to reduce their payments in order to stay in their homes, lenders say. Some families seek a quick-fix by trying to sell. But because Extreme Makeovers tend to be big, fancy residences plopped into working-class or rural communities, the houses can be a hard sell.

The house in Sandpoint, which was owned by Eric Hebert, appears to be the first Extreme Makeover home to actually fall into foreclosure, in October. Mr. Hebert did not answer requests for comment. But he told a local television station last year that “the biggest mistake I think that I made was I took too much money out on the house thinking that I was going to have a job, you know, in the future.”

Source: WSJ.com

CALIFORNIA’S TAX CREDIT MONIES MAY GO FAST

The $100 million allocated for California’s first-time homebuyer tax credits may be depleted in about 10 to 20 days or sooner, according to C.A.R.’s Economics team. California’s Franchise Tax Board (FTB) plans to begin accepting applications on May 1, 2010 for tax credits up to $10,000 for first-time homebuyers and for homes that have never been previously occupied. However, the total tax credit allocation for all taxpayers is $100 million for first-time homebuyers and $100 million for new homes, both on a first-come, first-served basis.

C.A.R.’s forecast of 10 to 20 days to deplete the $100 million allocation for first-time home buyers is based on estimated May sales figures and other parameters. It does not take into account the possibility that buyers scheduled to close escrow in April may delay closing until May to take advantage of the tax credit. If a shift in closings from April to May occurs, the first-time homebuyer tax credits may be depleted even more quickly than indicated above.

Applications for the California tax credit must be faxed to the FTB after escrow closes. The FTB will update its website when the 2010 application form and other information become availablee.
REALTORS® are reminded not to give their clients any tax or legal advice, such as the availability of funds under the California tax credit program. Agents should encourage their clients to seek specific advice from an accountant, attorney, or other professional as they deem appropriate.

For more information, please refer to C.A.R.’s Homebuyer Tax Credit Chart 2010.