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.

First Time Home Buyer?

DollarYou know, Dianne and I talk about this a lot, but I think it bears mentioning at this crucial moment when we have so little time before the $8,000. tax credit incentive has timed out (it expires on December 1st… that means that any transaction where there is the intention of taking advantage of this needs to close by November 30th).   What is it that Dianne and I harp on so often that comes into play here?  I’ll tell you- it’s “affordable homes in Lake Oswego”.   You know, the kind that many first time home buyers would be interested in…  homes under, let’s say, $350,000…  Homes in a great school district, in a community where all types of individuals tend to participate and make their voices heard, where there are farmers markets, art festivals, music in the park, great shops & services, where families are valued and supported with programs and activities specific to those needs… and on & on. Here is a link to the city’s website if you’d like to find out more:

I think that Lake Oswego, as Dianne has pointed out time & time again, is sometimes overlooked by first-time home buyers due to a perception that they just would not be able to afford a home in L.O.  Now… each individual circumstance is of course different, but if you can qualify for any number of the great lender programs that I know are out there now, and are looking for a home under $350,000., according to RMLS there happen to be at this moment, today, 53  Detached Homes available in Lake Oswego… and the bottom end is $199,000.  In addition, there are 129 Condos & Townhomes available right now under $350,000… and the bottom end there is at $89,800.

If this is sparking some thinking on your part about looking into this idea for yourself, or someone you know, please do not wait to get going.  Talk to your Realtor, or give Dianne or myself a call *today* if you are not already working with a Realtor.   This is not me pushing  here, I am talking about the chance of a lifetime in prices, rates, and this $8,000. tax credit, and this is the moment.  Here are a few reasons why:

Now, more than ever, it is important to have a good understanding of the timelines involved in purchasing a home… especially if you want to take advantage of the first-time home buyer tax credit:
Fact: The average timeline from when you find a property until it closes is 30-45 days.
Fact: You will need some time to find the property that you wish to buy.  (Some buyers find their home right away, and some need more time.)
Fact: The week before November 30th is Thanksgiving! Many banks and title companies are traditionally closed for the last 3 days of that week.
Fact: November 30th is the Monday following the typical 3 day bank shutdowns.
Fact: There will surely be many, many buyers who will wait until the last minute to start looking for homes. This means that November 30th is sure to be an extremely busy day and many banks and title companies will not be equipped to handle all of the expected volume.
Fact: As more buyers start to frantically hit the market to take advantage of the tax credit, the selection of properties is sure to decrease.
Fact: Waiting too long is a gamble you should not take if you are truly interested. The best strategy is to work with a professional who has a great team and can develop a plan with you to hit the deadline.

Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now  : )  I’ve at least done my part in getting the word out.

Happy house-hunting!  Please feel free to give me or Dianne a call if you’d like to get going. We are really enjoying working with as many of you as possible to ensure that you get to take advantage of this great opportunity.

Very Best,