Blog :: 11-2009

First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended!

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This week, we saw unanimous support in Senate and overwhelming support in the House for an extension of the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit. Here's a quick summary of the bill that the President has signed:

* First time home buyers must have a sale agreement in hand by April 30 and close escrow by June 30, 2010 and would get the full $8,000

* NEW ADDITION: CURRENT HOMEOWNERS looking for a new home could also qualify for a $6,500 credit if they have lived in their existing PRIMARY residence for at least FIVE (5) YEARS

* CHANGE IN INCOME RESTRICTIONS: The home buyer's credit would be available to: individuals with earnings up to $125,000; or $225,000 for couples. This is up from $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples under the current law

* EXCLUSIONS FROM THE TAX CREDIT: Homes that cost more than $800,000 are NOT eligible and the buyer must be over the age of 18 years old to claim the credit. Those who SELL their new home or STOP USING IT AS THEIR PRIMARY RESIDENCE within THREE (3) years would have to REPAY THE CREDIT

Staging to Sell

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Spring selling season is upon us and it's time for a refresher on staging tips. With inventory still high, and so many properties competing with yours, you will want to do everything you can to help your property stand out from the others.

Real estate expert Barbara Corcoran said recently during an interview that a buyer decides if he or she has interest in a property within 8 seconds of walking through the door. That doesn't leave much time to make a good impression! Use every second wisely by considering some of the following suggestions.

1. Curb appeal is important. When a buyer approaches your house, he or she makes the first judgment. Make sure your house is nicely painted. Repair that broken screen door. Tidy the front yard and plant some flowers. The buyer should feel drawn into the house and made to feel welcome by a warm and inviting entry hall.

2. Clear your house of clutter and personal belongings and scrub the house to within an inch of its life. Since your goal is to move out of the house, start packing today. Eliminate as many knick knacks as possible. Pack away any collections and replace photos of friends and family with neutral artwork. As far as cleanliness, everything should sparkle.

3. Straighten your closets and cabinets. Expect that buyers will open every door and cabinet. If your closets are packed to the gills, it will leave the buyer with the impression that the house does not have enough storage space.

4. Take the packing a step further and put extra furniture in storage. A sparse and simple approach to furnishings will make your rooms appear larger. Define a use for each room and furnish it accordingly. If you have a bedroom that has become a 'junk room,' pack the junk away and make the bed with inviting linens. It is important to show the buyer how the space can be used. When rearranging furniture, pull pieces away from the walls and keep in mind that you want to have a clear walking path between rooms.

5. A fresh coat of paint is inexpensive and goes a long way to making your home feel clean and fresh. Keep the colors earthy and neutral to appeal to the broadest audience. If you have a brightly colored room, consider re-painting it.

6. Shed some light on the subject. Open the blinds and turn on all the lights for showings. Bright spaces appear larger and overall create a positive impression. If you have heavy or dark drapes, consider replacing them with light colored window treatments.

7. Remove evidence of pets. When you are expecting a showing, pack up the pets and take a drive. That includes stowing away dog beds, crates and food dishes.

8. Make sure the house smells nice. Baking cookies before a showing makes the house smell yummy and inviting. This bit of advice is an oldie but goodie.

The common thread behind all of these suggestions is to present your home in as neutral a manner as possible so that the potential buyer can envision him or herself living in the property. While it is possible to achieve these goals on your own with very little expense, don't rule out calling a professional stager to assist you if you are feeling overwhelmed. Being a proactive seller will ensure that you have done everything possible to help your property rise above its competition.

Third Quarter Sales Activity Report

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The summer real estate market picked up markedly beginning in June and July, resulting in many third quarter sales. Many buyers, who had been waiting out the market for the past few years, came off the sidelines this summer and decided to buy. Low interest rates and the first time homebuyer credit have also helped to spur activity. The general feeling is that the market has leveled off and is not expected to drop significantly further. Despite the increased summer activity, the number of sales in Provincetown and Truro are still down about 50% off of last year's figures while Wellfleet held fairly even with last year's sales (which had already suffered a large decrease over the previous year).

The following charts compare year-to-date sales figures with the same period last year and report on the average Days on Market of the property that sold.

Provincetown

Sold 1/1/08 - 9/30/08

Sold YTD

2009

Current Inventory

Pending

DOM/Sold

2009

Single Family

25

13

57

11

325

Condos

97

55

185

30

198

The most active segment of the condominium market has been in the $300K - $600K range, which is accounts for 36 of the 55 sales and comprises 16 of the 30 pending sales.  In the single family market, most of the activity is in the $750K and under market, with 9 sales thus far in this category and 6 more pending.

Truro

Sold 1/1/08 - 9/30/08

Sold YTD 2009

Current Inventory

Pending

DOM/Sold 2009

Single Family

33

15

95

8

282

Condos

18

15

51

6

182

Most of the activity in Truro is in lower priced single family homes.  8 of the 15 sales were under 600K.  3 Sales were between 600K-800K and 4 were over 1M.  There have been no sales this year between 800K - 1M.

Wellfleet

Sold 1/1/08 - 9/30/08

Sold YTD 2009

Current Inventory

Pending

DOM/Sold 2009

Single Family

24

24

87

16

184

Condos

5

15

30

6

178

In Wellfleet, interest in single family homes comprises most of the activity in this market.  The heaviest concentration of sales has been between 300K-600K, with all of the sales being under 900K.