2012 Was Fabulous Year in Real Estate!

Ebby Halliday does it Again!

Ebby Halliday does it Again!

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Homestead Exemptions Have Changed What You Need to Know!

For all of the new home buyers this year in Texas, a few items have changed. One thing that has not changed is that you must own the home, or have closed on a home in the year prior, so December 31 2012 is the deadline for claiming your homestead exemption for 2013. The following information is off of the Dallas Central Appraisal District Website and the most notable change is that there are now two requirements for your homestead exemption. 1. Your driver’s license must reflect your address, and 2. Your vehicle registration must reflect the same address. You have until April 30th to claim your exemptions, so start getting all of your information up to date now and save yourself money!

Residence Homestead Exemption

To qualify, you must own and reside in your home on January 1 of the tax year application is made and cannot claim a homestead exemption on any other property. If you temporarily move away from your home, you still can qualify for this exemption, if you do not establish another principal residence and you intend to return within two years, or if you are a resident of a health facility, or in the military.

If the person who qualifies for an exemption is not the sole owner of the property to which the exemption applies, an application for a residence homestead exemption must be completed by each owner of the residence. Exemptions are allocated according to percent of ownership interest the applicant has in the property.

The exemption application must be completed and include:

1. A copy of the applicant’s Texas drivers license or Texas identification certificate; AND
2. A copy of the applicant’s vehicle registration receipt; OR
 
    a) If the applicant does not own a vehicle, an affidavit to that effect signed by the applicant; AND
 
    b) A copy of a utility bill in the applicant’s name for the property for which exemption is sought.

IMPORANT NOTE: The property address on the exemption application must match the address listed on the applicant’s Texas driver’s license/Texas identification certificate and vehicle registration receipt or utility bill; otherwise the Chief Appraiser is prohibited from approving the exemption.

It is a crime to make false statements on a homestead application or to file on more than one property.

Positive Signs in the Housing Market

One of the signs of market recovery is the rise in The Pending Home Sales Index, a tool that measures the number of signed real estate contracts on existing homes. The index rose 4.1 percent in March to 101.4, reflecting an increase in the number of pending home sales. In comparison, the index is currently 12.8 percent higher than a year ago, when it sat at 89.9. If these pending home sales make it through to closing, it will bring down inventory across the country and bring balance to the real estate market.

 

The number of distressed homes for sale is down. In all, 29 percent of March sales were for distressed homes, compared to 34 percent a year ago. Foreclosures accounted for 18 percent of March sales, selling at an average 19 percent below market value. Deeply discounted short sales sold on average 16 percent below market value; patient homebuyers willing to wait out the bank represented 11 percent of the market.

Investors still see value in the real estate market. Investors buying homes in March accounted for 21 percent of all transactions, only a one percent drop from 22 percent in March 2011. First-time homebuyers share that optimistic outlook; 33 percent of all transactions in March were by first-time buyers, on par with numbers from a year ago.

House prices are starting to rise. Homebuyers might have to pay more for their dream homes, because house prices are starting to rise. The national median existing home price hit $163,800 in March, a 2.5 percent rise from March 2011 prices. Single-family homes and condos are 1.9 and 7.1 percent higher than a year ago, respectively.

In a sign that the market still has some way to go, the number of completed transactions on single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops declined in March. Total existing home sales dropped 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.48 million from 4.60 million in February.

The latest housing market news shows that the recovery is underway. The start of the year saw the highest first quarter sales closings in five years. The end of March saw the total housing inventory decline 1.3 percent to 2.37 million listings for sale—a startling 21.8 percent below the listed inventory available a year ago

Five Reasons To Buy a Home!

We all want to be wise investors, but our brains get in the way. Behavioral scientists tell us we are hard-wired to assume the future will be like the past. These tendencies can cause us to miss bargains in real estate. Here are five reasons why buying a house now is a good investment:

1. It’s becoming more expensive to rent than to own. Yes, renting is convenient, but living in a rental also comes with restrictions on what renters can do with their living space—a simple task like painting requires permission from the property owners. Low interest rates and reasonable home prices make owning look more favorable than renting, especially when rent costs are rising!

2. The population of the United States is still growing. We are the only major industrialized nation that isn’t suffering negative population growth. All those households have to go somewhere, and many families are already doubled up.

3. Building has been almost nonexistent for several years. Ultimately, it comes down to supply and demand. There are still lots of foreclosures to work through, but the absolute supply of houses is declining.

4. Investors are removing inventory. As investors generate positive cash flow by buying bargain properties, more become landlords, reducing the available supply.

5. Homes can’t be replaced for their current prices. When building finally starts, builders will be forced to charge more than existing homes fetch. The cost of lumber, copper, and petroleum-based products has risen, taking building costs with them. That will make existing homes a bargain.

In the history of this country, there has never been a down economy that hasn’t recovered. This one will too, and those who take advantage of record-low interest rates will do well.

Unfortunately, people don’t want to buy at a good time; they want to buy at the best time. Few realize it’s impossible to pinpoint that time until it’s past.

It’s certainly a better time to buy than before the real estate bubble. No one can say exactly how things will come out, but those who can afford to hold their property at least five years should do extremely well.

2012 Design Trends

If you’re looking to update your home, consider following the trends. In 2012, eco-friendly spaces, bold colors, and casual elegance will be the trends to watch.

 

Environmentally Friendly Green living has gone beyond cloth tote bags and reusable water bottles and has now spread to the world of home construction. Eco18.com predicts that in 2012, green building will be more popular than ever. As consumers demand eco-friendly buildings, home developers will turn to LEED certifications to prove their homes are good for the planet. These LEED-certified homes will be more green than the standard, built with materials harvested from renewable resources and stocked with energy-efficient appliances. The Beasley and Henley Interior Design Blog sees the green trend continuing in the textile field. With the prices of eco-fabrics dropping, expect earth-friendly linens and cottons to turn up on pillows, furniture, and draperies.

Grey is the New Neutral Pantone, the authority on color, declared tangerine tango to be the color of 2012. A bold, reddish-orange that has proven popular among fashion designers and consumers alike for the past few years, expect the shade to hold appeal for years to come. Daring homeowners can swath an entire wall of their home in the color, but tangerine tango also works in smaller doses—on accent pillows, artwork, and accessories. The Beasley and Henley Blog, meanwhile, predicts 2012 will be the year of grey. When paired with bright colors like yellow or green, grey becomes both contemporary and comfortable.

Make Room for Style, Quality and Comfort Based on the popularity of products on display in their 87 showrooms, the Boston Design Center believes 2012 will be the year of casual, elegant spaces. Stuffy living rooms have fallen out of favor as people look for more comfort in their home. Expect spaces to become family friendly, with deep sofas designed for lounging and coffee tables sturdy enough to support the weight of feet. Well-designed furniture and fashionable printed fabrics lend an elegance to these spaces. On-trend furniture looks airy; graceful legs and slim profiles keep pieces from feeling too heavy. Graphic cutouts on the backs of chairs and the sides of tables add visual interest. The overall look is easily adaptable, at home in both urban and suburban settings.

What is a Buyer’s Agent?

Let’s face it, most consumers have no idea, about the true job of a Buyer’s Agent. Ten years ago when I purchased my first house I found it on-line, drove to the location, looked in the front windows, walked in the back yard, called my husband, and then called the agent’s number on the sign in the yard. Talk about not understanding real estate, we did not have an agent representing us, and we paid what the seller had listed as the sales price no questions, no negotiations. Then we let the listing (seller’s) agent walk us through the contract, option money, earnest money, the whole enchilada. It did not even enter my mind that I should have an independent person that would go over the contract and represent my interests, or negotiate any part of the transaction for me. Some individuals shy away from having representation because they do not want to pay a commission, heads up, in 98% of transactions in the state of Texas the buyer does not pay the commission, it is all paid through the seller. So basically a Buyer’s Agent is an unpaid advocate for you in a transaction to negotiate, and navigate the home buying process. This is the largest purchase most of us make in our lives, hopefully we have all learned to hire a buyer’s agent for true peace of mind. Let me know if I can help you with your next purchase, call anytime!

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