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The National Association of REALTORS® has quickly reacted to President Obama's proposed cut in the mortgage interest deduction.  NAR strongly opposes the provision and is utilizing a vast array of resources to make its opposition clear.

The provision aims to limit the tax rate at which high-income taxpayers - those whose family income is $250,000 ($200,000 for singles) or more - could take itemized deductions only at 28 percent.  For example, if you are in the 35 percent income tax bracket and you have tax deductions of $10,000, you would only be able to deduct 28 percent of that - $2,800 (in essence, a tax hike).  Such a limitation would impact homeowners and home values because the mortgage interest deduction for many families is the single biggest itemized deduction they take.  The Obama Administration says the cut would raise $318 billion over the next 10 years and would pay for other programs such as health care. 

According to NAR's analysis, changing the mortgage interest deduction will not only negatively impact the 2 percent of families who own homes targeted by the proposal, but also will impact home prices and values across the board. The middle class would see their home values reduced even further by such action, and NAR cautioned the Obama administration that any further pressure on home prices will hamper the economic recovery, raise foreclosures and hurt banks' abilities to lend.

NAR has sent a letter voicing its opposition to President Obama, an e-mail to all of its members, sent a letter to all members of the U.S. Congress, is placing ads in Capitol Hill publications that are avidly read by Congress and staff, is placing additional radio and television exposure, and put NAR Chief Economist Laurence Yun on Bloomberg TV and Fox Business News to explain why the cut is a bad idea.


An article appearing on Forbes.com last week analyzed the latest data from the S&P/Case-Schiller Home Price Index and ranks metropolitan Boston as one of the strongest housing markets in the U.S.  Boston ranks seventh nationally thanks to a slowing rate of price decline, a modest foreclosure rate compared to other U.S. cities, and the fact that the Boston market does not have an overabundance of new construction inventory.  To read the entire article click here.

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Beginning April 1, 2009, a new enhanced version of the SoftSecond program can be used by qualified homebuyers looking to purchase foreclosed condominiums, single-family, two-family and three-family homes in neighborhoods hardest hit by foreclosure.  SoftSecond is a state
mortgage program for low and moderate-income first-time homebuyers.

SoftSecond has and can always be used to buy a foreclosed property in the Bay State.  The enhanced version now waives the program's first-time homebuyer requirement and raises the household income limit to under 120 percent of the area median in designated census tracts in 39 communities that are eligible for federal Neighborhood Stabilization (NSP) funding.

Designated neighborhoods in 17 of the 39 communities are also eligible for NSP rehabilitation grants when a homebuyer purchases a foreclosed property with a SoftSecond loan.  The 17 communities eligible for enhanced SoftSecond and NSP rehabilitation grants are: Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Revere, Somerville, Springfield and Worcester.  For more information click here.

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As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,
an $8,000 tax credit is available to first-time home buyers for the purchase of a principal residence on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009.  The credit does not require repayment.  Most of the mechanics of the credit will be the same as under the 2008 rules:  the credit will be claimed on a tax return to reduce the purchaser's income tax liability.  If any credit amount remains unused, then the unused amount will be refunded as a check to the purchaser.  The National Association of REALTORS® has put together a chart highlighting the major modifications to the 2009 version of the tax credit as well as a list of frequently asked questions and a presentation on the benefits.

Don't forget about the other provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which include:

Homebuyer Tax Credit
FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Loan Limits
Neighborhood Stabilization
Commercial Real Estate
Rural Housing Service
Low Income-Housing Grants
Tax Exempt Housing Bonds
Energy Efficient Housing Tax Credits & Grants
Transportation Investments
Broadband Deployment

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The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® has rolled out its new "Right Tools, Right Now" program, which aims to help members excel during today's challenging economic times.

The initiative includes an array of publications, education, services, resources, and tools available to members for free, at cost, or at significantly reduced pricing. By removing the financial barrier to NAR's roster of business-building resources, NAR hopes that all or most of its members will take advantage of these tools and information.

You can see the lineup of March product offerings at REALTOR.org. Included this month are: Free downloads of research reports, including the 2008 NAR Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers; free downloads of the "It's a Great Time to Buy! brochure; a free March 12 Webinar on how to navigate Short Sales; and free registration for the Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist symposium in Naples, Fla., March 29-31.

New product offerings will be introduced monthly, and specialized content will be created to address timely market topics, so check the "Right Tools, Right Now" home page often to browse the latest offerings.

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