The Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group in Fort Myers has long supported baseball in Lee County, and this year baseball has paid back.  Jason Ellis, Brett’s son played for the Junior Twins in South Fort Myers and the Junior Twins took home the County Championship this past week, which is a tremendous achievement.

South Fort Myers Little League County Champions Jason Ellis and Brett Ellis
Jason Ellis and Brett Ellis

South Fort Myers Little League County Champions

Paul Hobby managed the team and did an excellent job as he is a great role model with the kids.  The coaches all put in extra duty this year to get the kids ready for a winning season, and the kids worked hard too.  Brett Ellis and Matt Scott coached the team along with Paul.

Manager Paul Hobby, Coaches Brett Ellis and Matt Scott, and the Twins
Manager Paul Hobby, Coaches Brett Ellis and Matt Scott, and the Twins

South Fort Myers Junior Twins: The team won the Lee County Championship over the South Fort Myers Red Sox 13-3 on Friday. Of the 23 Junior Little League teams in Lee County, the South Fort Myers Little League had all four of its squads in the county semifinals. The Twins captured a 9-8 semifinal victory over the SFM Cardinals. The SFM Red Sox outfought the SFM Mariners for a 4-2 victory in the semifinals. Zach Belcher was the winning pitcher for the SFM Twins in the championship game, pitching five innings.

2009 South Fort Myers Junior Twins Championship Team Photo
2009 South Fort Myers Junior Twins Championship Team Photo

Read News Press coverage of Title Game.

Brett Ellis appeared recently on NBC’s Today Show on April 19, 2009.  The report focused on housing deals in SW Florida and if now is the time to buy.  One Realtor talks about the buying frenzy and the bank foreclosure deals to be had presently in SW Florida, but time is running out.

Additionally, the report focuses on the $8,000 tax credit, and buyers competing with investors for the bargain buys. Brett Ellis of the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group in Fort Myers stands in front of a home that is priced 1/5 the price of what it sold for just a few short years ago.  Because of the tremendous buys, many buyers are bidding on properties.  One buyer in the report bid on 14 properties until they were successful.  The best bargain buys go quickly and many receive multiple offers, so you have to act quickly and have your ducks in a row.  This means getting pre-approved for a mortgage through the correct lender, and using all the forms the seller requires and filling them out correctly.

There are tips to being the successful bidder, and experienced agents in the foreclosure business know what these tips are.  Listen to the advice you receive from your agent, and if they tell you there are multiple offers on the property, believe it.  It’s far better to get your 1st or 2nd choice then your 15th.

Contact the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group in Fort Myers for bank foreclosure buys in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, and all of SW Florida.

800-860-4042

Visit our website Topagent.com

Due to a shortage of U.S. manufactured drywall between 2004 and 2007, many builders were forced to buy drywall imported from China. The “Chinese drywall” has been linked to seeping sulfide gases that can corrode electrical wiring and components of air-conditioning and other household appliances. Some residents have been forced to move from their homes, and a few builders in Florida have begun gutting homes and replacing the drywall.

We have found some helpful information put out by the Florida Department of Health that may be help to answer some questions the public may have regarding if Chinese drywall is present in your home and what the health implications may be, as well as where to turn for help.

See Frequently Asked Questions:  Here is a sample question.

How do I know if I have “Chinese drywall”?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. The most definitive method to date is finding a “made in China” marking on the back of sheet of drywall. DOH observed some drywall in several homes with no discernable markings. The origin of the unmarked drywall is unknown. DOH observed that homes with marked Chinese drywall also contained drywall marked as made in USA. Remember that we do not know how many sheets of the suspect drywall can cause problems. DOH did observe at least one home with marked Chinese drywall with none of the associated corrosion or odor problems. The bottom line is we think the question should really be “Does my house have corrosion problems?”

How to File a Consumer Complaint: Useful information on who to contact if you’d like to file a complaint.

Case Definition and Pictures (Does My home fit the investigation criteria?)

We will continue to provide additional information and resources as they become available.  You can also listen to The Future of Real Estate each week as we bring you important information and news regarding real estate in SW Florida.

 

 
 

 

The News Press is sponsoring an online marketing workshop for Realtors and other local business people that could help grow your online business.

On Tuesday, May 12 from 9am-11am Mike Blinder will deliver an excellent seminar for a small group of business people in the Lee County area (place TBD).

If you are interested in knowing more about Mike Blinder go to http://www.blindergroup.comand you will see enough to know that you want to be there.

Call your sales executive now to reserve your spot.

Industry experts Brett Ellis of the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group in Fort Myers Florida and Adrian Jacobs from Countrywide Home Loans in Fort Myers Florida outlines successful strategies in identifying short sale candidates, structuring your offer so the bank can accept it, and compiling the short sale package the way the banks want to see it.  We also go into qualifying the seller, getting pre-qualified, and talk about lien searches and why they’re important.

Brett is a CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert) and has helped dozens of homeowners sale their properties in SW Florida.  Working with a CDPE is a good idea and Brett encourages agents to obtain the accredidation.  The more agents with this knowledge the more it helps the entire market.  Both the listing and selling agent must have detailed knowledge about the process to make a short sale work.  Making mistakes can cost the buyer several months, kill the deal, and the buyer has lost out on many other properties they could have purchased during the time they waited for the failed short sale.  The seller faces likely foreclosure in a failed short sale, so the results are tragic on both buyers and sellers.  Working with a CDPE helps improve the success rate by only focusing on qualified short sale opportunities and putting together a package that works for the banks.

Watch Tips on Short Sales.  We also talk about buying bank foreclosures in SW Florida, Fort Myers, and Cape Coral as well.

SW Florida Real Estate Current Market Index April 2009
SW Florida Real Estate Current Market Index April 2009

 

The Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group released the April 2009 SW Florida Real Estate Current market Index which accurately predicts the local real estate market’s future direction, and once again the index improved. Fort Myers and Cape Coral recorded their lowest numbers since October 2005.  In October 2005 the number stood at 3.44, and the index today stands at 3.72  The lowest on record was July 2005 when the index stood at 1.07.  The lower the number the better the market is for sellers and the higher the number the better the market is for buyers.  The lower numbers are a result of higher transaction volume combined with declining inventory levels.

 

Lee County Florida index numbers for single family homes stands at 4.26, down from 5.07 in March.  We’re seeing tremendous sales numbers for a variety of reasons. Not only do we have home affordability back in the market, but also the perception that we’ve seen drastic price cuts and the end in price declines may be near.  Buyers do not want to miss out on the possible buying opportunity of a lifetime.   Along with attractive pricing is record low interest rates, declining property taxes, and a decent but dwindling supply of homes to choose from.  Lastly, the government passed a 1st time home buyer tax credit that gives buyers up to $8,000 tax credit to buy a home and if the home is kept for three years does not have to be repaid to the government.

 

Rarely do all the stars align for a perfect buying opportunity, but that’s just exactly what we have right now.  The SW Florida real estate market has been heating up for some time, and in 2009 we’re seeing some dramatic results on the transaction volume side.  Pricing is a lagging indicator and will follow once inventory is depleted further.  We’ve already seen a 2.74% rise in prices in March over February 2009 numbers.  Total single family home inventory in Lee County fell to 12,356 in April, down from 13,019 in March.

 

Cape Coral is again leading the way as the CMI index numbers for the Cape stands at 2.88.  Fort Myers CMI numbers stand at 7.26 Inventory is dropping in both Fort Myers and Cape Coral, and pending sales are increasing.  We believe when official sales numbers are released later this month we’ll see record sales for March, and sales activity going forward for April and May looks to be very strong.  Current home prices are so far below replacement cost that builders are not even attempting to build yet.  Once this inventory is depleted prices may begin to rise on a gradual path towards replacement cost, and when that occurs builders will again start building.  We believe we are still some time off from that point; however we are amazed at how quickly homes are selling and how the SW Florida real estate market has heated up.  Once the overall economy improves and businesses start hiring again in force, we believe prices could rise at a quicker pace and approach replacement prices.  Until then, home sales will be great as long as the price is attractive, and we may enter No-Man’s land once we deplete existing inventory and the market absorbs what to do once the bargains are all gone.  The economy and employment will eventually drive home sale prices, and home sales may help drive the economy back to health.

 

Stay tuned as the market is definitely heating up, and the Current market Index points to more good times ahead.

Here is an information sheet we found on the First Time Honme Buyer Tax Credit for home buyers in 2009.  Buyers in Cape Coral and Fort Myers have been buying real estate in March at a record rate, and many will be helped by this tax credit.  For some, the government will essentially be kicking in 10% of the purchase price.  Read below for details.  Always call the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group with your questions, or visit our website Topagent.com

 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

Frequently Asked Questions About the Home Buyer Tax Credit

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 authorizes a tax credit of up to for

qualified first-time home buyers purchasing a principal residence on or after january 1. 2009 and before

December 1. 2009.

The following questions and answers provide basic information about the tax credit. If you have more

specific questions. we strongly encourage you to consult a qualified tax advisor or

about your unique situation.

1.     Who is eligible to claim the tax credit?

First~time home buyers purchasing any kind of home-new or resale-are eligible for the tax credit. To

qualify for the tax credit, a home purchase must occur on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009. For the purposes of the tax credit, the purchase date is the date when closing occurs and the title to the property transfers to the home owner.

2.     What is the definition of a first-time home buyer?

The law defines “first~time home buyer” as a buyer who has not owned a principal residence during the

three-year period prior to the purchase. For married taxpayers, the law tests the homeownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse.

For example, if you have not owned a home in the past three years but your spouse has owned a principal residence, neither you nor your spouse qualifies for the first~time home buyer tax credit. However, unmarried joint purchasers may allocate the credit amount to any buyer who qualifies as a first~time buyer, such as may occur if a parent jointly purchases a home with a son or daughter. Ownership of a vacation home or rental property not used as a principal residence does not disqualify a

buyer as a first-time home buyer.

1                     How is the amount of the tax credit determined? The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000.

2                     Are there any income limits for claiming the tax credit? Yes. The income limit for single taxpayers is $75,000; the limit is $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. The tax credit amount is reduced for buyers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of more than $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. The phaseout range for the tax credit program is equal to $20,000. That is, the tax credit amount is reduced to zero for taxpayers with MAGI of more than $95,000 (single) or $170,000 (married) and is reduced proportionally for taxpayers with MAGis between these amounts.

3                     What is “modified adjusted gross income”? Modified adjusted gross income or MAGI is defined by the IRS. To find it, a taxpayer must first determine

 

“adjusted gross income” or AGio AGI is total income for a year minus certain deductions (known as

“adjustments” or “above-the-line deductions”), but before itemized deductions from Schedule A or

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personal exemptions are subtracted. On Forms 1040 and 1040A, AGI is the last number on page 1 and first number on page 2 of the form. For Form 1040-EZ, AGI appears on line 4 (as of 2007). Note that AGI

includes all forms of income including wages, salaries, interest income, dividends and capital gains.

To determine modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), add to AGI certain amounts such as foreign

income, foreign~housing deductions, student~loan deductions, IRA-contribution deductions and deductions for higher-education costs.

6. If my modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is above the limit, do I qualify for any tax credit? Possibly. It depends on your income. Partial credits of less than $8,000 are available for some taxpayers whose MAGI exceeds the phaseout limits.

7. Can you give me an example of how the partial tax credit is determined?

Just as an example, assume that a married couple has a modified adjusted gross income of $160,000.

The applicable phaseout to qualify for the tax credit is $150,000, and the couple is $10,000 over this

amount. Dividing $10,000 by the phaseout range of $20,000 yields 0.5. When you subtract 0.5 from 1.0,

the result ;s 0.5. To determine the amount of the partial first-time home buyer tax credit that is available

to this couple, mUltiply $8,000 by 0.5. The result is $4,000.

Here’s another example: assume that an individual home buyer has a modified adjusted gross income of

$88,000. The buyer’s income exceeds $75,000 by $13,000. Dividing $13,000 by the phaseout range of $20,000 yields 0.65. When you subtract 0.65 from 1.0, the result is 0.35. Multiplying $8,000 by 0.35 shows that the buyer is eligible for a partial tax credit of $2,800.

Please remember that these examples are intended to provide a general idea of how the tax credit might

be applied in different circumstances. You should always consult your tax advisor for information relating to your specific circumstances.

8. How is this home buyer tax credit different from the tax credit that Congress enacted in July of 2008? The most significant difference is that this tax credit does not have to be repaid. Because it had to be

repaid, the previous “credit” was essentially an interest~free loan. This tax incentive is a true tax credit. However, home buyers must use the residence as a principal residence for at least three years or face

recapture of the tax credit amount. Certain exceptions apply.

9. How do I claim the tax credit? Do I need to complete a form or application?

Participating in the tax credit program is easy. You claim the tax credit on your federal income tax

return. Specifically, home buyers should complete IRS Form 5405 to determine their tax credit amount,

and then claim this amount on Line 69 of their 1040 income tax return. No other applications or forms are required, and no pre~approval is necessary. However, you will want to be sure that you qualify for

the credit under the income limits and first-time home buyer tests. Note that you cannot claim the credit

on Form 5405 for an intended purchase for some future date; it must be a completed purchase.

10. What types of homes will qualify for the tax credit? Any home that will be used as a principal residence will qualify for the credit. This includes single-family detached homes, attached homes like townhouses and condominiums, manufactured homes (also known as mobile homes) and houseboats. The definition of prinCipal residence is identical to the one used to determine whether you may qualify for the $250,000 I $500,000 capital gain tax exclusion for principal residences.

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11. I read that the tax credit is “refundable.” What does that mean? The fact that the credit is refundable means that the home buyer credit can be claimed even if the taxpayer has little or no federal income tax liability to offset. Typically this involves the government

sending the taxpayer a check for a portion or even all of the amount of the refundable tax credit.

For example, if a qualified home buyer expected, notwithstanding the tax credit, federal income tax

liability of $5,000 and had tax withholding of $4,000 for the year, then without the tax credit the taxpayer would owe the IRS $1,000 on April 15th. Suppose now that the taxpayer qualified for the $8,000 home buyer tax credit. As a result, the taxpayer would receive a check for $7,000 ($8,000 minus the $1,000 owed).

12. I purchased a home in early 2009 and have already filed to receive the $7,500 tax credit on my 2008 tax returns. How can I claim the new $8,000 tax credit instead? Home buyers in this situation may file an amended 2008 tax return with a 1040X form. You should

consult with a tax advisor to ensure you file this return properly.

13. Instead of buying a new home from a home builder, I hired a contractor to construct a home on a lot that I already own. Do I still qualify for the tax credit? Yes. For the purposes of the home buyer tax credit, a principal residence that is constructed by the

home owner is treated by the tax code as having been “purchased” on the date the owner first occupies

the house. In this situation, the date offirst occupancy must be on or after January 1, 2009 and before

December 1, 2009.

In contrast, for newly-constructed homes bought from a home builder, eligibility for the tax credit is

determined by the settlement date.

14. Can I claim the tax credit if I finance the purchase of my home under a mortgage revenue bond (MRB) program? Yes. The tax credit can be combined with the MRB home buyer program. Note that first-time home buyers who purchased a home in 2008 may not claim the tax credit if they are participating in an MRB

program.

15. I live in the District of Columbia. Can I claim both the Washington, D.C. first-time home buyer credit and this new credit? No. You can claim only one.

16. I am not a U.S. citizen. Can I claim the tax credit? Maybe. Anyone who is not a nonresident alien (as defined by the IRS), who has not owned a principal residence in the previous three years and who meets the income limits test may claim the tax credit for a qualified home purchase. The IRS provides a definition of “nonresident alien” in IRS Publication 519.

17. Is a tax credit the same as a tax deduction? No. A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in what the taxpayer owes. That means that a taxpayer who owes $8,000 in income taxes and who receives an $8,000 tax credit would owe nothing to the IRS.

A tax deduction is subtracted from the amount of income that is taxed. Using the same example, assume

the taxpayer is in the 15 percent tax bracket and owes $8,000 in income taxes. If the taxpayer receives an

$8,000 deduction, the taxpayer’s tax liability would be reduced by $1,200 (15 percent of $8,000), or

lowered from $8,000 to $6,800.

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18. I bought a home in 2008. Do I qualify for this credit? No, bullf you purchased your first home between April 9, 2008 and January 1, 2009, you may qualify for a different tax credit

19. Is there any way for a home buyer to access the money allocable to the credit sooner than waiting to file their 2009 tax return? Yes. Prospective home buyers who believe they qualify for the tax credit are permitted to reduce their Income lax withholding. Reducing tax withholding (up to Ihe amount of the credit) will enable the buyer to accumulate cash by raising his/her take home pay. This money can then be applied 10 the down payment.

 

Buyers should adjust their withholding amount on their W-4 via their employer or through Iheir quarterly estimated tax payment. IRS Publication 919 contains rules and guidelines for income tax withholding. Prospective home buyers should note Ihat if income tax withholding Is reduced and the tax credit qualified purchase does not occur, then the individual would be liable for repayment to the IRS of

income tax and possible interest charges and penalties.

Further, rule changes made as part of the economic stimulus legislation allow home buyers to claim the

tax credit and participate in a program financed by tax-exempt bonds. Some state housing finance

agencies, such as the Missouri Housing Development Commission, have introduced programs that provide shortRterm credit acceleration loans that may be used to fund a downpayment. Prospective

home buyers should inquire with their state housing finance agency to determine the availability of such

a program in their community_

The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) has compiled list of such programs, which can be found here.

20. If I’m qualified for the tax credit and buy a home in 2009, can I apply the tax credit against my 2008 tax return? Yes. The law allows taxpayers to choose (“elect”) to treat qualified home purchases in 2009 as if the purchase occurred on December 31, 2008. This means that the 2008 income limit (MAGI) applies and the election accelerates when the credit can be claimed (tax filing for 2008 returns instead of for 2009 returns). A benefit of this election is that a home buyer in 2009 will know their 2008 MAGI with certainty, thereby helping the buyer know whether the income limit will reduce their credit amount.

Taxpayers buying a home who wish to claim It on their 2008 tax return, but who have already submitted their 2008 return to the IRS, may file an amended 2008 return claiming the tax credit. You should consult

with a tax professional to determine how to arrange this.

21. For a home purchase in 2009, can I choose whether to treat the purchase as occurring in 2008 or 2009, depending on in which year my credit amount is the largest? Yes, If the applicable income phaseout would reduce your home buyer tax credit amount in 2009 and a larger credit would be available using the 2008 MAGI amounts, then you can choose the year that yields the largest credit amount.