Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Will the Road to Homeownership Ever End? Lessons Learned

So you may recall about a year ago I was on the search for the perfect DC condo. Well the search only took a brief hiatus for a few months and I was back on the grind venturing across the city to find my next home. I've learned lots about the District in this process and can honestly say I've seen just about every portion of NW, NE and SW (sorry SE). It looks like I've found that perfect pad, but holy moly my brain is fried with contracts and financial documents all in an effort to close by October 30th.

Did you know that you can check the crime statistics for any area in DC? CLICK HERE to type in the address of the property you are looking into and you can see every single crime that has occured in the past year on this site.

I also encourage those of you looking to buy to obtain a homeownership guide and READ IT! CLICK HERE for a really useful guide I used that walks you through every step of the process.

And before you start to look for a place or a realtor I suggest you check out which has every single property listed in DC, VA and MD. You type in your search criteria and SHA-ZAM you have hundreds of listings in the city. This will give you a realistic idea on if you're really even ready to begin looking as some of the prices in the city may scare the hell out of your bank account.

And START SAVING. I've been pretty anal about saving over the past six months (thus missing many fabulous trips with friends, sorry Asma), but in the end run, it's all worth it. But also you should know that your can often take a loan from your 401(k) for a down payment, but I still must reiterate you should have back-up savings. You are essentially taking a loan from yourself and you pay yourself back with interest. Check into your 401(k) plan and you can find more details online usually.

For those of you looking to purchase a home this year, you should know that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 authorizes a tax credit of up to $8,000 for qualified first-time home buyers purchasing a principal residence before December 1, 2009. That's right, come November 30th this first time home buyer tax credit will be no more! Unless of course there is an extension by Congress and the funds are available.

If you are a first-time home buyers (like me) purchasing any kind of home "new or resale" you are eligible for the tax credit. 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. See the IRS website for more detail.

There are income limits!
I feel like us single people with good jobs are PUNISHED! 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.

For more information you can CLICK HERE, but nonetheless, the program will make tax season a whole lot brighter for you future homeowners!

If you are really serious about purchasing a home I highly recommend
Senate Realty
, a DC-based real estate company owned by Lisa Williams, Cher Castillo and James Williams. Visit Senate Realty online here and I'm certain if they can find me a home, they can help you too! I'm happy to pass on my realtor's info if you shoot me an email at

I leave you with a picture of the hopefully soon-to-be casa DC This Week and really encourage those of you who are on the homebuying search to research, research, research and ask questions of your realtor, lender and family or friend who has bought a home in the past. It's not easy, but worth the journey.

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