Notes & Scribbles

Tax Credit ~ The First-Time Home-Buyers’ $8,000.  Tax Credit is, of course, the talk of the town (the nation, actually). It is acknowledged that it is and has been helpful in spurring the real estate market (activity in related price ranges is steady if not occasionally feverish… especially lately!)   There is much talk about extending the deadline from the current November 30th date to an as-yet-undetermined date in 2010.  While it is generally agreed that the housing market is turning the corner, and a large part of this growth is related to the tax credit, there is also concern being expressed about dispersing more government money in light of recent history.  So… nothing is decided as of now. There are talks about plans to:

  • Extend it to all home-buyers,
  • Not extend it at all,
  • Increase it to $15,000.,
  • Extend it and keep the terms the same,
  • Offer it only to service members who have been out of the country,
  • Etc.

The important thing to remember if you are a first-time home-buyer, or care about one, is that right now there is an opportunity to get an $8,000. tax credit. That means real money coming to you when you file for 2009.  We do NOT know how the debate will play out regarding extending or not extending it… AND right now there is still time to take advantage of it, but you must act now.

Oil Tanks (Reminder & Update) ~ The standards for levels of contaminants are under review. In particular, ethyl benzene and naphthalene have been changed to a “carcinogenic” classification, and therefore cleanup requirements are also changing. There is now concern over the possibility of  fumes potentially penetrating a home from underground & causing harm. Remember, if you have an oil tank underground on your property that has not been decommissioned, or if you are a Buyer considering a property with one: Underground oil tanks have a life of approximately 40 years.  After that, they leak… and what they leak is toxic.  Homeowners can be held liable for damage to soil from leaking tanks, and therefore, proper soil testing and decommissioning through a DEQ-certified environmental service is the wise choice.  If you are a Seller in this situation, I would highly recommend just doing this now and getting it out of the way.  It makes your home more attractive to potential Buyers, removes an objection, and protects you and the environment at the same time.

Loans ~ There are truly all kinds of loans out there right now for all kinds of Buyers.  FHA loans are a  current favorite, and the FHA 203 (b) is a little easier to qualify for than most conventional loans these days. There are also “Flex”  loans for teachers (administrators & school nurses can also apply!), police, and firefighters. Other than the FHA loan I mentioned, you usually want a credit score of 640 or higher, and for all of them you’ll need 3 to 3.5% down. Talk to your favorite mortgage broker for more information, or give me a call and I can refer you to some great resources.

Homes on Slopes ~ Some precautions, in light of current information gained from recent slides in Portland, Lake Oswego and surrounding areas are worth noting:

  • At no point should drain water be discharged onto slopes in an uncontrolled manner. Investigate energy dissipation devices to prevent erosion at discharge points.
  • Make sure that any fill used on the slope is “engineer-fill”.  Not all fill is able to handle the specialized drainage requirements of sloped properties.
  • Make sure gutters remain clear in order to prevent over-saturation in areas not able to handle runoff.
  • Keep drainage ditches or berms clear during the rainy season so that they do not direct water into areas where erosion & damage may occur.
  • Keep drain inlets, outlets and weep holes at foundation, retaining walls, driveways etc clean at all times.  Remove debris to prevent clogging.
  • Notice any wet spots on the property.  This may indicate either natural seepage, or leaking water or sewer line problems. Seek professional advice immediately.
  • Regularly check irrigation systems. Drip systems are preferred on hillsides.
  • Make sure roof drainage is not connected to a subsurface disposal system unless it has been approved by a geotechnical engineer.
  • Keep water from accumulating next to foundations, retaining walls or basements.
  • Guard against over-saturation on the hillside, as once this has occurred, damage can result very quickly and without warning.
  • Seek the advice of a good Engineering firm. One source is:  GeoPacific Engineering, Inc.