2010 Housing Forecast - California

Marcie Geffner - California Real Estate

When it comes to employment and housing, California might well be called a tale of two states.

In one state, which is made up mostly of coastal counties from Oregon to Mexico, unemployment is no more than 13 percent and more often 10 or 11 percent. In the other state, which is comprised mainly of Central California, again from border to border, unemployment stands at more than 13 percent and often as high as 15 or 16 percent. There are a few anomalies among the state’s 58 counties, but if you plotted those unemployment rates on a color-coded map, the geographical disbursement of joblessness would be starkly apparent.

Still, that doesn't mean there won't be opportunities for Realtors, according to Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist of the California Association of Realtors.

Read on: http://www.onlinedigitalpubs.com/publication/?i=30208&p=25

Home buyer tax credit secrets

By Marcie Geffner - Bankrate.com

The basic rules of the federal homebuyer tax credit are not difficult to figure out. But the credit, which has been amended and extended, also contains more than a dozen little-known twists and traps that can affect whether a buyer will or won't qualify for the full amount of up to $8,000 for first-time buyers or $6,500 for repeat homeowners.

Here are some facts homebuyers should know about the rules that became effective Nov. 7, 2009:

•The amount of the credit technically isn't $8,000 or $6,500, but rather 10 percent of the purchase price of the house up to those amounts for a buyer who hasn't owned a home in the last three years or a homeowner who has occupied the same principal residence for five consecutive of the last eight years, respectively. For example, if the home cost $50,000, the maximum credit amount would be $5,000, not $8,000 or $6,500.

•Buyers can elect to claim the credit on their 2009 or 2010 tax return, whichever is more advantageous for them. Buyers who claim the credit on a 2009 return must file on paper forms, not electronically. Expect to wait 12 to 16 weeks for a refund from an amended 2009 tax return.

Read on: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/secrets-of-the-homebuyer-tax-credit-1.aspx

How long will your house last?

By Marcie Geffner • Bankrate.com

A house may survive for hundreds of years. But the individual components that make up the house may -- or may not -- be as resilient. Components made of concrete or brick can last a long time while major appliances are almost disposable, despite how costly they are to purchase, repair and replace.

Examples of especially sturdy products include cabinets in a garage or laundry room, brick pavers, a concrete or cast iron waste pipe and copper rain gutter downspouts, all of which can last 100 years or longer, according to a 2007 National Association of Home Builders, or NAHB, study of home components' life expectancy. Other durables that can last a lifetime include natural stone or tile countertops, fiberglass, wood or fire-rated steel exterior doors, copper wiring, wood floors, walls, ceilings and most types of insulation.

Read on: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/real-estate/how-long-will-your-house-last-1.aspx

Hot Colors for Your Home

New colors inspire trendy paint, home décor choices

By Marcie Geffner, Cyberhomes Contributor

Homeowners who want to paint or redecorate their home won’t need a crystal ball to figure out what the hot colors will be this year. That’s because the Pantone Color Institute has announced eight new sets of coordinated colors, or palettes, for home décor.

Three of the new palettes are:
■Greenmarket, which includes Apple Green, Super Lemon, Peach Blossom and Vanilla Ice
■Gatherings, which includes Copper Coin, Lion, Smoke Blue and Twilight Mauve
■Pastiche, which includes Mimosa, Lavandula, Tangerine and Bright Cobalt

Read on: http://www.cyberhomes.com/content/news/10-01-07/home-decor.aspx