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October 5, 2011
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EVENTS & EDUCATION
Manageable Monday Webinars
Earn CEs from your desktop. Next webinar – Oct. 17, 9-11 a.m. Antitrust (RE11RC08)

Creating Prosperity Seminars
Brokerage Relationships, Agency, and Office Policies & Procedures – Oct. 6,
10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Boston
A Legal Approach to Procuring Cause & Protecting Your Fee – Oct. 20,
10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Boston

SRES Designation Course
Seniors Real Estate Specialist Designation Course- Nov. 17-18,
9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Lexington

Real Estate Broker Pre-licensing Course
10 Classes over 5 weeks from Oct. 31 – Dec. 7, 2:30 – 7:00 p.m., Boston

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Greater Boston Area to Feel Impact of Lower FHA Loan Limits 

Effective October 1, loan limits for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), as well as those secured by government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have returned to statutory levels established under the Housing & Economic Recovery Act of 2008. As a result of the crisis in the U.S. financial markets three years ago, federal lawmakers delayed implementation of the lower loan limits for 33 months, but they now have been re-set from 125 percent to 115 percent of the local area median home price. In metropolitan Boston, the FHA and GSE loan limits for single-family homes have been reduced from $523,750 to $465,750 in Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth and Suffolk counties. Also, in these same counties, FHA loan limits for two-family homes have been lowered from $670,500 to $596,250, and for three-family properties the loan ceiling has been reduced from $810,450 to $720,700. Notably, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) still intends to push Congress to pass legislation to restore FHA and GSE loan limits to their previously higher levels.

The Good and Bad in President Obama’s Jobs Plan

The American Jobs Act, President Obama’s $447 billion initiative to jump start the U.S. economy, includes several elements that could help the real estate sector, including tax cuts for small businesses and regulatory reforms to help business owners access capital, measures to boost home mortgage refinancing, and a new national program to rehab homes through the leveraging of private capital, scaling of land banks, and promotion of public-private collaborations. Real estate agents and brokers also would directly benefit from a further temporary reduction in Social Security taxes. Specifically, the self-employed would pay just a 6.1 percent tax (down from 10.4%) on net self-employment income up to the annual ceiling of $106,400. Additionally, the legislation calls for an extension of 100 percent bonus depreciation through 2012, allowing businesses to fully deduct in one year the cost of business equipment. Unfortunately to pay for the Social Security tax reductions, the Act would limit the value of all itemized deductions, including the home mortgage interest and property tax deductions, for high-income taxpayers – those singles earning $200,000 or more and married taxpayers earning $250,000 or more – to 28 percent. If the legislation passes, this could hurt housing demand in high-priced markets, like Boston.

Join Effort to Help Prevent Copper Pipe Thefts from Homes

All Massachusetts REALTORS® are encouraged to participate in an important Legislative Call-for-Action that urges state lawmakers to support a bill, S. 145, that is intended to address the theft of copper pipes and other metals from vacant homes and distressed properties. Once copper pipes and other similar materials are stripped from a home, the ability to obtain conventional financing on the property is typically lost, which causes the value of the home and others in the same neighborhood to drop. For this reason, the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® supports S. 145, a measure that would create a second-hand metal dealer registry and an abandoned property registry, as well as require personal information be collected from sellers of scrap metal, thereby providing law enforcement with tools to fight scrap metal theft. If you’ve not yet done so, please join the Call-for-Action to send a pre-drafted letter to your state senator and representative asking them to vote for S. 145 when it comes up for a vote.

Congress Extends Flood Insurance Program – Temporarily

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed an appropriations bill containing a provision to extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until November 18, 2011, and earlier this week the U.S. House of Representatives gave their approval as well. The legislation’s passage avoids a lapse in NFIP authority and the insurance protection it provides for an estimated 5.6 million affected home and business owners across the country that could have occurred as of October 1st. Since the third quarter of 2008, there have been five shutdowns of the NFIP and this makes a tenth temporary extension of the program issued by Congress. If you have not yet responded to the NAR Call-for-Action urging Congress to pass legislation to reauthorize the NFIP for five, please visit the REALTOR® Action Center to send a pre-drafted letter stating the REALTOR® position on this issue to U.S. Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown.

Owners of Homes with Oil Heat Face New Requirement

Under a new state requirement that took effect on September 30, 2011, owners of one-to-four family homes that are heated with oil must have in place an oil safety valve or an oil supply line with a protective sleeve on their heating equipment. It is estimated that installation of one of these devices typically costs $150-$350, including labor, parts and local permit fees, and installation must be performed by a licensed oil burner technician. The law applies to all homeowners, regardless of whether or not the home is being sold. To learn more about this requirement and the Homeowner Oil Heating System Upgrade and Insurance Law, visit the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection website.

Sales of homes, condos rise sharply in August across Greater Boston
Sales of detached single-family homes and condominiums each rose steadily for a second consecutive month on an annual basis in August across metropolitan Boston, and pending sales also posted double-digit gains during the month from year ago levels. The rebound in sales activity is attributable in part to rising rents, record low mortgage rates and stable home prices, but was not unexpected since buyer demand had slowed considerably to its lowest level in 15 years last August following the expiration of the federal home buyer tax credit program. For complete data and detailed analysis on the housing market in Greater Boston during August, visit the Monthly Housing Reports page on gbar.org.

 

 

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