What happens in escrow?

Escrow is an agreement made with a third party called an escrow holder, to hold documents and funds for the buyer and seller and distribute them accordingly.

An escrow holder…

• opens the order for title insurance, if the lender has not already ordered.
• sends out a copy of the title insurance to all parties.
• receives funds from the buyer and/or lender.
• prorates insurance, taxes, rents, etc.
• disburses funds for title insurance, recordation fees, real estate brokerage, lien clearance, etc.
• prepares final statement for each party, indicating amounts to be disbursed for services and any futher amounts, necessary to close escrow.
• records deed and loan documents, delivers the deed to the buyer, loan documents to the lender and funds to the seller, closing the escrow.

Should I get an inspection?

Every home should be inspected for your protection. During an inspection, the property will be evaluated for its structural and mechanical condition. A contingency about a satisfactory inspection report should be included in your contract. Inspections usually cost around $300-400 and are at the buyer’s expense.

What is earnest money?

Before any document or agreement can become a legal and binding contract, for both sides there has to be consideration. Something must be offered as evidence and proof that an agreement is more than just a person’s word to buy. Earnest money is that consideration. The more money you put down, the more you are displaying to the seller that you indeed want to buy his or her home.

How much earnest money is required?

All real estate transactions are individual circumstances and situations and require different approaches. This is one of the many reasons why you want to be professionally represented by Larry Mandel, when it comes time to negotiate a contract. In general, earnest money usually falls within 1% to 5% of the purchase price.

Federal Home Buying Tax Credit

Who is Eligible

  • First-time home buyers, who are defined by the law as buyers who have not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase, may be eligible for a tax credit of 10% of the home purchase price, up to a maximum of $8,000.
  • Existing home owners who have been residing in their principal residence for five consecutive years out of the last eight and are purchasing a home to be their principal residence (“repeat buyer”), may be eligible for a tax credit of 10% of the home purchase price, up to a maximum of $6,500.
  • All U.S. citizens who file taxes are eligible to participate in the program.

Income Limits

  • Home buyers who file as single or head-of-household taxpayers can claim the full credit ($8,000 for first-time buyers and $6,500 for repeat buyers) if their modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is less than $125,000.
  • For married couples filing a joint return, the combined income limit is $225,000.
  • Single or head-of-household taxpayers who earn between $125,000 and $145,000, and married couples who earn between $225,000 and $245,000 are eligible to receive a partial credit.
  • The credit is not available for single taxpayers whose MAGI is greater than $145,000 and married couples with a MAGI that exceeds $245,000.

Effective Dates

  • The eligibility period for the tax credit is for homes purchased after Nov. 6, 2009, and before May 1, 2010. However, home purchases subject to a binding sales contract signed by April 30, 2010, will qualify for the tax credit provided closing occurs prior to July 1, 2010.

Types of Homes that Qualify

  • All homes with a purchase price of less than $800,000 qualify, including newly-constructed or resale, and single-family detached, townhomes or condominiums, provided that the home will be used as their principal residence. Vacation home and rental property purchases do NOT qualify.

Tax Credit is Refundable

  • A refundable credit means that if the amount of income taxes you owe is less than the credit amount you qualify for, the government will send you a check for the difference.
  • For example:
    • A first-time buyer who qualifies for the full $8,000 credit who owes $5,000 in federal income taxes would pay nothing to the IRS and receive a $3,000 payment from the government. If you are due to receive a $1,000 refund, you would receive $9,000 ($1,000 plus the $8,000 tax credit).
    • A repeat buyer who owes $5,000 would pay nothing to the IRS and receive $1,500 back from the government. If you are due to get a $1,000 refund, you would get $7,500 ($1,000 plus the $6,500 tax credit).
  • All qualified home buyers can take the tax credit on their 2009 or 2010 income tax return.

Payback Provisions

  • The tax credit is a true credit. It doesnot have to be repaid unless thehome owner sells or stops using the home as their principal residence within three years after the purchase.

For more information, go to: federalhousingtaxcredit.com.