Tax Reprieve for some California Short Sales in 2014

California short sale sellers have been awaiting news on whether or not the state tax board would follow the federal tax guidelines with respect to debt forgiveness. In fact, when the tax Act was extended, Californians were told that any forthcoming decision at the state level would be retroactive. In an attempt to clarify state tax policy on debt forgiveness, politicians created Senate Bill 30, but it has not yet passed. As such, any Californians who participated in a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure in 2013 still did not know about their own state tax liability—until recently.

Thanks to a letter from Senator Barbara Boxer to the IRS, Californians now have that clarification. In November, Senator Boxer received the following IRS response clarifying that California families who have lost their homes in a short sale will not be subjected to a tax penalty for debt forgiven after the federal law prohibiting such penalties expires at the end of this year, and the Franchise Tax Board has agreed with those clarifications.

Enacted in July of 2011, California has an anti-deficiency law that protects homeowners from lenders attempting to collect additional assets in the case of a closed short sale transaction. But until Senator Boxer wrote her letter, the IRS had not clarified how this might play out in California. Like many Californians, Senator Boxer noted that with the end of the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 just around the corner, “…distressed borrowers may face the unfortunate incentive to go to foreclosure rather than seek a short sale in order to avoid a large tax bill.”

The IRS reply included excellent news for California homeowners, clarifying that these families will not face burdensome tax penalties as a result of participating in a short sale—specifically because of the state anti-deficiency statutes. With approximately 55,000 anticipated short sales in 2014 in the state of California, this is good news for those distressed borrowers still on the fence about selling as a short sale.

Californians might not want to do jump for joy just yet. Reilly states, “there are situations where this rule might work against the taxpayer, particularly those who borrowed against property after it appreciated.” He goes on to outline a few of those situations and points out that some of the various exceptions to recognizing debt discharge (including insolvency) will no longer be available remedies.

IRSResponse.nonrecourse 2014

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Fiscal Cliff and Real Estate

Late in the evening of Tuesday, January 1st Congress reached a settlement in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, and President Obama signed the legislation January 2nd.  As a result, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act was extended another year.  The measure will continue to exempt from taxation mortgage debt that is forgiven when homeowners and their mortgage lenders negotiate a short sale, loan modification (including principal reduction), or foreclosure.
The same provision also expired in California, but Senator Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) introduced SB 30, which would waive the potential tax bill for Californians for all of 2013.  C.A.R. already signed on as the bill’s sponsor, and the two hope to fast track the bill through the Legislature.

Also under the fiscal cliff agreement, the so called “Pease Limitations” that reduce the value of itemized deductions are permanently repealed for most taxpayers but will be reinstituted for high income filers.  These limitations will only apply to individuals earning more than $250,000 and joint filers earning above $300,000.  The thresholds have been increased and are indexed for inflation so will rise over time.  Under the formula, filers gradually lose the value of their total itemized deductions up to a total of a 20 percent deduction.  The reinstitution of these limits has far less impact on the mortgage interest deduction (MID) than a hard dollar deduction cap, percentage deduction cap, or reduction of the amount of MID that can be claimed.

Capital gains rates on the sale of principal residences will remain unchanged and continues to exclude the first $250,000 for single taxpayers and $500,000 for married couples.

REALTORS® should encourage their clients to consult with their own tax advisers about their own individual tax situation.

Information provided by Sacramento Association of Realtors.

 

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Home Equity back on the Rise

Sacramento area homes on the increase, don’t miss this great article:
sacbee.com
Sacramento’s uptick in housing aids underwater owners

Published Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012

After the housing bubble burst, tens of thousands of people across the Sacramento region were trapped in homes worth less than they owed, with experts predicting it could be many years before they recovered their lost equity.

In the past six months, however, rising prices have substantially reduced negative equity in the region, real estate tracking firm Zillow said in a recent report.

Today, nearly 5,000 underwater homeowners are nearing the point where their home values exceed their loan balances.

If prices continue to rise next year, as Zillow and others predict, an increasing number of area residents will be able to sell their homes without harming their credit scores through short sales, in which lenders take less than what is owed.

Some have already taken advantage of their newfound freedom.

“It was a miracle from God,” said Leisha Aitken, who cleared her loan, paid her real estate agent and walked away with money to rent an apartment after she sold her 2,100-square-foot home in Folsom’s Empire Ranch in September.

Aitken, a pharmacist, found herself out of work earlier this year and struggled with her $2,800 monthly mortgage payment. She was sure she would have to do a short sale and put a major strike on her credit rating.

Then she met with agent Gillian Long, of Intero Real Estate Services’ Folsom Lake office. The two decided to test the fast-changing market and push the asking price above $400,000 – enough to pay off Aitken’s $373,000 loan balance and cover commissions and moving expenses. The house sold quickly for $400,000, or about $191 a square foot, higher than comparable sales in recent months.

“Gillian said if I had called her a couple of months earlier, I would have had to do a short sale,” said Aitken, who has a new job and is hoping to buy a condominium. “It was a good feeling to sell that house and get out. I never want another mortgage payment like that again.”

A major factor in Aitken’s favor was that she never sank too far underwater on her home loan. Even at the bottom of the market in January she owed only about 10 percent more than her home was worth. Thousands of others are in similar situations.

Almost half of area homeowners – nearly 168,000 households – remain upside-down on their mortgages to varying degrees. The total amount of negative equity in the Sacramento region is nearly $17 billion, according to Zillow.

Some homeowners are much closer to breaking the surface than others. About 53,000 homeowners across the region are underwater by 20 percent or less, Zillow estimates. About 9,000 owe less than 10 percent more than their homes are worth. And about half that number, 4,770, owe less than 5 percent more than their homes’ value.

That last group is “extremely close to being in positive equity territory,” said Zillow spokeswoman Camille Salama.

The Seattle-based firm, among the more conservative of forecasters, predicts home prices in the Sacramento region will increase by about 6 percent through the third quarter of 2013.

“As home values continue to rise in the Sacramento area there will be homeowners who will switch from being underwater to above water,” said Svenja Gudell, Zillow senior economist.

When that happens, she said, a larger number of traditional home sales could come on the market.

In recent years, foreclosures and short sales have made up the bulk of the market, and investors have been the major buyers. Having families buy and sell homes in the traditional manner would help restore a sense of normalcy to the market, she said.

And those who have positive equity will start spending again on home upgrades, she said. “It has to do with confidence and seeing return on investment,” she said.

Economist Jeffrey Michael, director of the University of the Pacific’s Business Forecasting Center in Stockton, said he agrees that “the prospect of those folks (who are only slightly underwater) getting above water in the next year or two is pretty good.” But he said he was skeptical they would help drive the housing market with new purchases.

Those who are newly above water will “be able to sell their house,” he said, but they “won’t have a ton of equity.” Only those who can bring other sources of cash to the table can buy another house, he said.

Local real estate professionals take a more optimistic view.

Pat Shea, president of Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, said he thinks there is pent-up demand from people who have been in their homes for years and need more room to accommodate growing families or less room because their children have grown up.

Many will be eager to sell, and even if they can manage only a small down payment, will look to take advantage of today’s low prices and interest rates.

“You know there are some people itching to move up, down or sideways,” he said. “When they can do it, they will.”

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

 

6W24ABOVEWATER_Jump

 

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New wave of foreclosures hit Sacramento again

The Sacramento skyline, as seen from The Ziggu...
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The Sacramento Beepublished an article September 26, 2011 with the following statistics compiled by RealtyTrac and Foreclosure-Response.org.  They placed our region’s shadow inventory at 53,256 homes in the four surrounding areas of Sacramento, Yolo, Placerand El Dorado counties.

They included in this number three categories of distressed properties:

  • 12,285 houses already owned by banks but not sold
  • 19,367 units whose owners have received an initial foreclosure notice, or notice of default, but have not been foreclosed on
  • 21,604 homeowners who are 90 days or more delinquent on their payments but have not received a notice of default

Lenderare starting to pick up the pace on repossessions once again.  The figures provided by RealtyTrac show foreclosures in the area soared 76% from July to August, the highest number in 11 months.

Based on this “shadow inventory” it would take a year and a half to sell these distressed homes.

To read the complete article by Rick Daysog of the Sacramento Bee click here

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California Law Helps Protect Distressed Homeowners doing Short Sales

Effective January 1, 2011, California first trust deed mortgage holders who consent to a short sale of residential property (up to 4 units) are prohibited from seeking a deficiency judgment for the difference between the mortgage balance and proceeds realized through the sale. 

Senate Bill931 was passed by legistature in August and approved by the Governor on 9/30/10 to help strapped homeowners.

See the complete article at Realty Times 

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How does a Foreclosure, Deed-In-Lieu of Foreclosure & Short Sale Seller’s Credit Affected?

Fair Isaac released a report that says credit scores are affected about the same, whether a seller does a short sale or foreclosure. Fair Isaac says the average points lost on a FICO score are as follows:

  • 30 days late: 40 to 110 points
  • 90 days late: 70 to 135 points
  • Foreclosure, short sale or deed-in-lieu: 85 to 160
  • Bankruptcy: 130 to 240

Foreclosure or Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure
Both of these solutions affect credit the same, says David Steep of Vitek Mortgage. Sellers will take a hit of 200 to 300 points, depending on overall condition of credit. This means if a seller’s FICO score before foreclosure was 680, it could dip as low as 380.

Short Sale
Steep maintains that the effect of a short sale (providing the sellers are more than 59 days late) on a seller’s credit report is identical to that of a foreclosure. The ding on credit will show up as a pre-foreclosure in redemption status, Steep says, which will result in a loss of 200 to 300 points. This means a short sale seller with a previous FICO of 720 could see it fall from 520 to 420.   If your loan stays current during a short sale, your credit will not be effected as much as not making your payments and your chances of purchasing another home sooner than two years is possible.

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Distressed Options for Homeowners in California

If you have found yourself falling behind in your mortgage and debt obligations, you aren’t alone.   With the loss of jobs and declining home values and the current economy, homeowners like you are forced to consider options that were unthinkable a few years ago.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has established a hotline to assist homeowners who are facing a hardship.  You can contact HUD at their toll free number 1-877-483-1515 to find out what options are available to you:

1)      Loan Modification

2)      Short Sale

3)      Foreclosure

To learn more about the tax consequences of a short sale versus a foreclosure, you can visit the IRS web site at www.irs.gov.  Before executing any of these options, consult with a certified public accountant or tax attorney.

Governor Schwarzenegger has instituted a statewide, 90-day halt on foreclosure proceedings for each owner-occupied home subject to a first mortgage on which a Notice of Default has already been file.

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COST CUTTING TIPS TO PREPARE YOUR HOUSE FOR SALE

We have received questions from many concerned sellers on what is required of them when preparing their home for prospective buyers.  Due to the current economy we are seeing a large increase in the number of short sale homes available for sale.   Sellers in a short sale situation are concerned about the costs to prepare their home for sale so that it doesn’t sit on the market for a long time.  They also ask what needs to be done in order to fix their home up for sale for the least amount of money.

Here are a few inexpensive tips that will help you stage and sell your home more quickly:

  • Wipe down all of the walls and outlets of dirty fingerprints
  • Shampoo Carpeting
  • Wash the Windows and Screens
  • Vacuum and Dust often
  • Remove all books from bookcases
  • Pack up the knickknacks
  • Clean off everything on kitchen counters
  • Put items used daily in a small box that can be stored away when not in use
  • Re-Organize Closets and Pantry
  • Make Minor Repairs – Touch up any holes, scratches or damage to the walls and if you have touch up paint laying around, touch up these areas
  • Keep Lawns Mown and Watered
  • Trim Shrubs & Plant Colorful Flowers
  • Air out House of Musty or Pet Odors
  • De-Personalize – Pack up personal photos and heirlooms.  Buyers can’t see past personal artifacts and you want them to see the home.
  • De-Clutter – If you don’t need it, sell it, donate it or throw it away
  • Get a head start on packing, you will eventually need to do it anyway
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