25th February 2009

$8,000 First-time Home Buyer Tax Credit Now Available!

The following is a well written article about this important first time home buyer incentive aimed at stimulating the economy. As I have said many times before – if you know your job is secure and you have good credit, there has never been a better time to buy an Atlanta home or Atlanta investment property. Robert Whitfield

By Amy Hoak, MarketWatch 2/25/09

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — First-time home buyers who purchase a home this year can now take advantage of the stimulus bill’s $8,000 tax credit, the U.S. Department of the Treasury said in a news release on Wednesday.

Unlike the previous $7,500 credit available to this group of buyers, the credit outlined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 does not have to be paid back — if the home remains the buyer’s “main home” for at least 36 months after the purchase date, according to the Internal Revenue Service’s Web site. First-time buyers, for the purpose of this credit, are those who have not owned a home in three years.

Buyers must purchase a home before Dec. 1 to be eligible, and the credit can be claimed on a home buyer’s 2008 or 2009 tax return. Tax returns for 2008 are due by April 15, but most taxpayers can get automatic extensions to Oct. 15 without citing a reason. (You must pay any estimated tax liability at the time the extension is filed.) Filing an amended 2008 return after you buy would also be an option for getting the credit sooner.

“For first-time home buyers this year, this special feature can put money in their pockets right now rather than waiting another year to claim the tax credit,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, in a news release. “This important change gives qualifying home buyers cash they do not have to pay back.”

Buyers can claim 10% of the purchase price, up to $8,000, or $4,000 for married individuals filing separately, according to the IRS’ Web site. The credit starts to phase out for those whose adjusted gross income exceeds $75,000, or $150,000 for joint filers.

The IRS has posted a revised version of the form required to claim the credit, Form 5405, on IRS.gov. Visit IRS.gov’s first-time home buyer page.

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23rd February 2009

Now Is The Time To Protest Your Property Taxes!

Now is the time to call your county tax commissioner and find out the deadlines for protesting your property tax assessment in your particular county. Contact us for market stats in your neighborhood during 2008, especially the foreclosures and distressed sales. The Atlanta housing market has been ranked one of the ten most stable markets in the US during this sub prime economic mess, however, our have values have declined year over year since 2006, albiet not as severly as most other areas of the country – still it is wise to make sure you are not paying more than your property is worth.

We have seen several cases where Metro Atlanta county property tax assessments were clearly off base with market realities and the year to year decline in property prices for 2008 vs 2007. No matter what the proposed valuation from the county is, it’s worth a postage stamp to file a protest based on the recent decline of property values in your neighborhood. Most counties are over-valuing now due to the failure of owners to protest, and yet it’s so easy to file a protest. The county will even assist you in filling out the papers. And it could save you a chunk of money for years to come.

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