Housing declines dragging down broader economy, visas for int’l buyers, and why you might suck at twitter
The New York Times had an article that diagnoses our national economic gloom to be a result of falling housing prices. The story cites a 2007 CBO review that calculates that:
people reduce spending by $20 to $70 a year for every $1,000 decline in the value of their home. This “wealth effect” is significantly larger for changes in home equity than in the value of other investments, such as stocks, apparently because people regard changes in housing prices as more likely to endure.
In these belt-tightening times, money from a permit to drill for natural gas on your property would sure be welcomed by most. But before you sign, realize that it could cause you to default on your mortgage. Banks are beginning to scrutinize these leases, wondering if at the end they are going to be stuck with a toxic waste site that they can’t sell.
More on a story from last week’s WWR blog entry: two Senators are preparing to introduce a bill that would give residence visas to foreigners who spend at least $500,000 to buy houses in the U.S. Overseas buyers spent $82 billion buying up U.S. homes in the 12 months ended in March, up 24 percent from a year earlier.
Gmail is getting a new look.
First Class mail goes up by a penny on January 22 to $0.45.
Social Media expert Chris Smith offered a Twitter webinar this week with enlightening and useful take-aways on how to improve one’s Twitter presence. Jeff Turner shares a nice write-up of the event and gives reasons why you might suck at twitter.
New iPhone 4S on sale, some customers notice yellow tint to screen.
iPhone tracking, ordering to overeat, and how to cook the Easter Bunny.
Obama: Housing ‘Probably the Biggest Drag on the Economy’
The last chapter has been written for Google Video for a number of years. The site stopped accepting new videos a number of years ago, but Google is now officially pulling the plug. Still have videos on the site? Need to figure how to get them off? Wired‘s Webmonkey has the info.
Another sign of the Apocalypse? Mashable via CNN reports on how the tablet war is heating up in restaurants, replacing live waiters or waitresses. Apparently people order more when they can do it digitally themselves. A tablet doesn’t judge when you order a piece of chocolate lava cake. Just what we need…
You know you can listen to music, make a call, check sports scores, and lots of other things on a smart phone, but did you know you can check your heart rate? Lots of gadgets these days have secondary functions that people overlook. Yahoo! uncovers some gadget surprises.
To celebrate Earth Day, many businesses are offering consumers free stuff, good deals, and chances to win valuable prizes. Yahoo Green has gathered just a sampling of Earth Day deals.
And speaking of green: I wouldn’t even know where to buy one, but Fox News had an interesting story on a not-so-traditional Easter Dinner idea: how to cook a rabbit. Really the story is more of a why cook a rabbit: It is leaner than chicken, veal or turkey, with less fat and cholesterol. It has half the calories per pound compared to beef and pork and is the most easily digestible protein around. They grow fast, meaning they impact the environment less and don’t need antibiotics or hormones. Sounds like a great idea to me.
You’ve all seen the movies where the heroes outrun an explosion or even use it to propel their mode of escape – like a surfer riding a wave. Yeah, right. Gizmodo tries to answer the question how big an explosion could you realistically survive?
In the last few months Information Central has been receiving some calls from members concerned over two different claims have been made about recently enacted or pending legislation that would impact home sales. Both are false.
The first says that the Energy bill currently making its way through the senate would require home energy audits prior to sales. This is false. The bill rather provides for some state-administered matching grants to homeowners who make energy efficiency improvements to their homes. The bill also mandates new construction to meet certain energy efficiency guidelines, but prohibits time of sale labeling. The legislation is currently pending in the senate.
Secondly, some claim that the recently passed healthcare bill includes a 3.8% transfer tax on the sale of all homes. This is also false. The new Medicare tax applies only to high income (those with incomes over $200,000 for individuals, or $250,000 for households that file taxes jointly) with ‘net investment income’. As the first $250,000 of any sale of a primary residence is automatically excluded ($500,ooo if filing jointly) from capital gains, the only people who might pay this new tax are the very wealthy who sell a property at an enormous profit. Factcheck gives examples of who might pay:
- A single executive making $210,000 a year who sells his $300,000 ski condo for a $50,000 profit. His tax on the sale of that vacation home would amount to $1,900, in addition to the capital gains tax he would have paid anyway.
- An “empty nester” couple with combined income of over $250,000 a year who sell their $1 million primary residence to move to smaller quarters. If they cleared $600,000 on the sale, they would be taxed on $100,000 of the profit (the amount over the half-million-dollar exclusion). Their health care tax on the sale would amount to $3,800 over and above the usual capital gains levy.
To help combat these false claims, NAR Government Affairs has created a handout [links to PDF]. Rest assured if there were any radical changes to the home buying and selling process, the National Association of REALTORS® would be on top of it, letting its members know the truth.
From the Realtor Action Center:
Congress has passed an extension of the closing deadling for the Homebuyer Tax Credit, the Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act (H.R. 5623). The extension applies only to transactions that have ratified contracts in place as of April 30, 2010, that have not yet closed. The legislation is designed to create a seamless extension; the new closing deadline for eligible transactions is now September 30, 2010. There will be no gap between June 30 and the date the President signs the bill into law.
NAR worked closely with Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to enact this important legislation. Extending the tax credit closing deadline will help provide additional stability to real estate markets across the nation.
Additionally, the Senate has passed the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2010 (H.R. 5569), an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program until September 30, 2010. This will allow transactions to move forward. The bill is retroactive and covers the lapse period from June 1, 2010, to the date of enactment of the extension. NAR members sent more than 250,000 letters to Members of Congress encouraging them to extend the program.