News

Georgia tax credit indended to jumpstart home sales

It just got a little easier to sell homes here in Georgia.

At least some homes, that is.

On Monday, Governor Sonny Perdue just signed a law which gives buyers of qualified single-family residences a tax credit of up to $1,800. Combined with the $8,000 federal tax credit, potential homebuyers have a great incentive to act now.

The credit takes effect immediately, and it’s available for the next six months.

And best of all, it’s available to anyone who buys an eligible home, not just first-time homebuyers. And it’s available for owner-occupied and non-owner occupied properties alike.

Those who do buy an eligible home can look forward to a tax credit of $1,800 or 1.2 percent of the purchase price, whichever is less. The credit must be taken over three years, and is non-refundable. It can also only be taken once.

So what’s the catch? Well, not every home is eligible.

What homes are? Single-family homes that were for sale on or before May 11, owner-occupied residences with an owner who was in default of their mortgage as of March 1, or REO property held by the lender or the lender’s agent.

That will ultimately leave a lot of homes out in the cold, as new listings will be ineligible for the credit. Still, it is a welcome sign that the legislature is committed to stabilizing and jumpstarting Georgia’s real estate market, and to revitalize Georgia’s economy.

And for those homes which are eligible for the credit – a little extra incentive for a potential purchaser can’t hurt!

 

We’d love to be your Atlanta real estate lawyers. Want to know more? Contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss how Harlan and Associates can be of service to you!

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Market, News

Atlanta ranks 7th in foreclosures

Another quick hit from RealtyTrac and the AJC: Georgia now ranks seventh in the nation in new foreclosures.

Fulton County was first in the state with 1,846 foreclosures, and Gwinnett was second with 1,417. DeKalb was third with 1,081.

Total foreclosures in the state were 11,521.

We’d love to be your Atlanta real estate lawyers. Want to know more? Contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss how Harlan and Associates can be of service to you!

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Market, News

Quick hit on Atlanta home prices

Quick news via the AJC, reporting statistics from the NAR: Atlanta home prices have fallen by 25 percent over the last year.

It’s interesting because the NAR’s figure is way beyond Case-Shiller, which reported a 15.3 percent year-to-year decline.

We’d love to be your Atlanta real estate lawyers. Want to know more? Contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss how Harlan and Associates can be of service to you!

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Current Events, News

Atlanta home prices plummet

From Case-Shiller’s results for January: Atlanta home prices dropped 3.2 percent for the month and 14.3 percent for the year.

Harlan and Associates performs real estate closings in Georgia. Want to know more? Contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss how we can be of service to you!

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News

Title Insurance Rates Have Changed!

If you haven’t already seen it in your recent closings title insurance premiums have changed.

To make it easier for mortgage lenders and real estate agents to calculate costs, the title insurance companies are standardizing the amounts that agents can charge for title insurance premiums.

To see the new rates, just click here! There’s no more guessing how much title insurance is going to cost anymore!

So what exactly are the big changes?
– Uniform rates. No longer will one agent be able to charge one title premium rate while another charges something different. No more differences between normal sales and REOs. Instead, there’ll be just one rate, consistent from one closing to the next.
– Simultaneous-issue discounts. When both an owner’s and lender’s title policy are being issued in a closing, the premium for the owner’s policy will be set by the rate schedule. The cost of a lender’s policy will be $100.00 as long as the policy amount is less than the owner’s policy.

As a real estate professional, you spend a great deal of time and effort putting each and every deal you handle. Don’t you deserve a closing attorney who treats your closing with the same level of importance? We think you do. And at Harlan and Associates, we strive to make the entire real estate closing process easy for everyone: easy for you and easy for your clients.

Harlan and Associates performs real estate closings in Georgia. Want to know more? Contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss how we can be of service to you!

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Market, Opinion

Is now a good time to be a landlord?

 

Last month, the delinquency rate for mortgages was at an all-time high, with one out of eight homeowners either late or in foreclosure. Across the country, home values have dropped on average anywhere between 8 and 30 percent. And in Atlanta, prices have fallen 12.1 percent, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index.

For some, that paints a pretty bleak picture of the housing market. But for others, it looks like a time of great opportunity.

Why? Because, compared to their recent values, houses are cheap, and investors looking to hold rental properties for the long term are finding better and better deals.

For example, lenders have really started unloading their foreclosure properties at discount prices, which is a good sign for those looking at the long-term hold. Almost half of all deals today are either REO or short sales, and it is real estate investors who are increasingly taking advantage of that market.

In fact, our investor clients are telling us that they’ve never seen more foreclosure homes in better condition than now. Good properties are available, and at good prices.

Still, when looking at buying rental property, real estate investors should bear in mind:

  • A thorough inspection is absolutely mandatory. As anyone who as read an REO addendum to a sales contract can tell you, the selling lender makes no representation as to the condition of the property at all. As-is is the rule, and with a limited time to walk away without forfeiting your earnest money, you need to be certain the property doesn’t bring with it hidden repair costs which may affect your ultimate cashflow.
  • Bottom-fishing is OK. Right now, the banks are swamped with REO properties, and there’s nothing wrong with submitting low-ball offer after low-ball offer until someone bites. While there isn’t an average percent discount that lenders will accept, it still can’t hurt to make the offer.
  • It is still important to know your market and evaluate your specific deal. If the area ultimately won’t support the rental rate you need, then you’re probably offering too much.

Many personal finance experts have long-believed that real estate is a key component in building long-term wealth, and owning rental property is a fantastic way to earn that wealth slowly over time. With opportunities unseen for years, more and more investors are turning to rental property as a primary focus of an overall successful investment strategy.

 

Harlan and Associates has years of experience in helping real estate investors be successful, and ee’d love to be your Georgia closing attorneys. Want to know more? Just contact us today and we’ll be happy to discuss how Harlan and Associates can be of service
to you!

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Investors, Market, Opinion

Investors look at REO opportunities

 

Earlier this week at county courthouses all across Georgia, thousands of properties were being called for foreclosure.

Metro Atlanta alone had a record number of scheduled foreclosures last month, with almost 8,500 homes slated to be sold on the courthouse steps. And today, those steps just aren’t as crowded as they used to be. Auctions once teemed with real estate investors looking for deals; today it is more common for the number of attorneys calling foreclosures to outnumber potential buyers.

Why? It’s simple: the deals for investors just aren’t there.

You see, if no one buys a property at the steps, it gets taken back by the lender. It becomes a class of property known as Real Estate Owned, or what’s more commonly-called REO. And once that property is classified as an REO, it’s listed on the lender’s books as a non-performing asset. That means the bank needs to sell it as quickly as possible. With record numbers of homes being foreclosed upon, that REO inventory is only expected to increase – and banks become much more motivated to sell.

Here at Harlan and Associates, we’ve handled hundreds of REO closings, and we’re seeing more and more every day.

Why? Well, most of our real estate investor clients are finding that the real deals are in post-foreclosure REOs – They say investing in REOs is the best way to generate instant potential equity in today’s market. It allows them to buy a property at a well-below market price and sell it for more than they paid.

Not only that, but there are more and more financing opportunities for investors buying REO properties. We’ve handled cash closings. There’s private money available. If the numbers are right, hard money lenders are always interested in lending on REOs. And earlier this month, Fannie Mae increased the number of properties an investor may finance, so more conventional non-owner occupant financing is available.

In other words, there are certainly opportunities for investors to profit.

Harlan and Associates has years of experience in helping real estate investors be successful, and ee’d love to be your Georgia closing attorneys. Want to know more? Just contact us today and we’ll be happy to discuss how Harlan and Associates can be of service
to you!

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Investors, Opinion

Take advantage of the first-time homebuyer tax credit

  

There’s a new and better tax credit in town. Are you poised to take advantage of the coming surge in home sales?

Are you marketing your properties specifically to first-time homebuyers?

If not, you should be.

Last week, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Under this Act, qualified first-time homebuyers will receive tax credits of up to $8,000 if they buy a principal residence this year. And it’s expected to bring 300,000 to 1,000,000 new homebuyers into the market.

That’s a lot of sales. And those sales should lead to even more as current homeowners look to trade up.

Best of all, unlike the $7,500 tax credit enacted last year, this new tax credit does not have to be repaid, and it’s refundable. It can, and will, put money directly into your buyer’s pockets.

The highlights:

  • The credit is available to first-time homebuyers. That’s anyone who has not owned a principal residence in the last three years.
  • The credit does not have to be repaid, and it’s refundable.
  • The credit is equal to 10 percent of the purchase price, up to $8,000.
  • The credit is available for homes purchased between January 1st and December 1st this year.

As a real estate investor, now is the time to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer market. From concentrating your sales marketing at those potential first-time home buyers to converting your lease/option tenants into owners through wrap financing, there are many different ways you can turn this new law to your advantage. It might be just the thing to get your deals closed!

At Harlan and Associates, we have years of experience in helping real estate investors be successful. We’d love to be your real estate closing attorneys in Atlanta Georgia. Want to know more? Contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss how Harlan and Associates can be of service to you!

 

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Market, News

Real Estate Roundup

The National Association of Realtors released today their monthly survey of existing-home sales.

The total number of homes sold dropped 5.3 percent nationwide in January to lows not seen since 1997. The total year-over-year fall was 8.6 percent.

In the South, sales dropped 5.7 percent for the month and 15.9 percent below last year. The median price of an existing home also dropped 7.4 percent from last year to $152,100.

Also, S&P released the latest Case-Shiller numbers yesterday, and they showed continuing declines in home values.

Overall, the 10-city index slipped 2.3 percent in December, for a year-to-year decline of 19.2 percent. The 20-city index dropped 2.5 percent for the month and 18.5 percent for the year. No city measured by Case-Shiller showed any price appreciation, either for the month or year.

In Atlanta, prices fell 2.3 percent in December and are 12.1 percent down from last year.

 

Harlan and Associates are short sale attorneys in Atlanta. Want to know more? Contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss how we can be of service to you!

Red clover roundup, originally uploaded by Tim Gavin.

Investors, Market, News

Atlanta ranks third in vacant homes

 

According to a Census Bureau report, Metropolitan Atlanta is now the third emptiest city in America, ranking behind only Las Vegas and Detroit in the number of vacant rental units and single family homes.

Overdevelopment, soaring foreclosures, and the size of the Atlanta metropolitan area – 28 counties – have left the city among the country’s leaders in empty homes.

A primary culprit: intown condos.

Once the darling of real estate developers who rushed to put up new buildings as quickly as they could be built, the condominium markets in Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead have all but collapsed.

In fact, Atlanta had over 6,000 new unsold condos at the end of 2008. Only 645 were sold during the year, and only 66 in the last six months.

Overall, the Census Bureau reported that 16.1 percent of Atlanta’s rental market was vacant, as were 4.3 percent of non-rental homes.

Still, Atlanta is not in as dire straits as Detroit, for example. The city continues to attract more people, which should result in a quick rebound of demand when the economy stabilizes.

 

Harlan and Associates are short sale attorneys in Atlanta. Want to know more? Contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss how we can be of service to you!

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