Nearly half of all potential Columbia SC homebuyers can afford the median-priced home in the area, but that’s not much help if they can’t get a mortgage.
Six years after the subprime mortgage meltdown, banks remain tight-fisted, even with solid borrowers — a fact they attribute to shifts in government regulation and demands that they buy back bad loans. Mortgage credit has not eased much since 2007, according to Federal Reserve surveys of loan officers, even while low rates and the housing recovery have borrowers lined up looking for financing.
Which Columbia SC Homebuyers Are Having Problems With Lenders?
First time Columbia SC homebuyers and those who are self-employed find themselves jumping through especially complex hoops. Even would-be borrowers with crystal clear credit are having to justify even the smallest quirks in their finances, and the application process can take months.
This is all in sharp contrast to 2006 when just 12% of Columbia SC homebuyers could afford the median-priced home, but seemingly anyone could get a mortgage to buy one. The turnabout highlights a cruel fact of the housing crash: Many who were crushed by lost home values — or other economic pain related to the housing meltdown — may now miss out on record low prices and interest rates if they want to become Columbia SC homebuyers again.
Complaints about tight-fisted lenders have emanated not just from potential Columbia SC homebuyers and industry sources, but from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, who at least twice in the last year has remarked on how the pendulum has swung too far.
In November, Bernanke said, “Overly tight lending standards may now be preventing creditworthy borrowers from buying homes, thereby slowing the revival in housing and impeding the economic recovery.” There is no indication that things have improved since he made those comments.
Despite the problems, there have been some improvements since the mortgage market tightened up during the financial crisis. For instance, refinancing of certain underwater mortgages — those that borrowers owe more on than their homes are worth — has become more available for homeowners who have stayed current on payments under an Obama administration program that offers incentives to banks. And jumbo loans, those for more than $625,000, nearly disappeared after the crash, but now are widely available at rates less than a half a point higher than traditional loans.
The tighter mortgage market is all the more reason not to try to become a Columbia SC homebuyer alone. You need a professional to help you through the mortgage maze. Talk to us. We have a lot of experience dealing with lenders, and between our experience and the expertise of some of our preferred lenders that we work with on a regular basis, we can help you get through it all.
For more tips on getting through the mortgage maze, visit our Columbia SC Mortgage Info under our Columbia SC Real Estate Categories to your right.
A ventless fireplace, or as the industry likes to call them, a “vent-free” fireplace, is a liability in Columbia SC homes. We prefer the term “ventless”, or “not vented at all” when describing these cozy little demons.
The ventless fireplace industry wants you to feel you’re being liberated of a burden by not having an exhaust vent. We think it’s important for people to know that they’re actually missing something important when they go with a ventless gas appliance.
Why a Ventless Fireplace is a Liability in Columbia SC Homes
Unvented gas fireplaces are a liability in Columbia SC homes. We advise those who have one either to remove it, replace it, or just not use it. Yes, we know that some people love them and have never had a problem with theirs. We have heard of lots of people with unvented gas fireplaces who complain of headaches and other problems.
More than a few people are feeling ill when they use unvented fireplaces, and they want to confirm their suspicions. These things are in a lot of Columbia SC homes now, and people are buying those homes without knowing of the problems.
It’s unlikely that ventless fireplace units will go away anytime soon, but the more people find out about these problems, the better. As homeowners doing their research find out the truth and turn away from these ventless fireplace systems, Columbia SC homes become safer.
One company, Fireplace Creations in Tennessee, writes on their website, “After doing research, we decided we would never put a vent-free (room vented) appliance into our home. Because of this decision, we didn’t believe it would be right to sell them to our customers. This decision was made even though vent-free products were/are a hot item.” You can read their recommendation on why not to use a ventless fireplace here.
Are Wood Burning Fireplaces Safer Than Ventless Fireplaces?
If your state has adopted the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), you cannot install an open wood-burning fireplace in a new home. What does this tell you?
According to the BCAP-OCEAN code status website, 30 states are on the 2009 IECC or better now. Adopting it was one of the requirements for any state that took ARRA (Stimulus Act) money.
A ventless fireplace may have fancy technology built in now (oxygen depletion sensors and catalytic converters), but the bottom line is that the risks can outweigh the benefits. It’s not that hard to build a chase and cut a hole to install a direct vent model, so why take that risk in your home?
Columbia SC homeowners will soon be turning the calendar and looking squarely at April 15, the day income taxes are due. If you haven’t already done your taxes, you should be gathering up your W2s, 1099s, bank statements and receipts. If you’re missing anything, you don’t want to wait until April 14th to figure that out.
A few Congressional scares slipped by the cutting block again, at least for this year. Congress did not modify or repeal your right to deduct the mortgage interest you pay for being a Columbia SC homeowner. There are, however, some limitations for high-income earners. If you are single and earn more than $400,000 (or more than $450,000 if married), personal exemptions will be phased out and itemized deductions will be limited. If you fall in that category, you should discuss your specific situation with your tax or financial advisers.
Congress did not increase the capital gains tax rate for people who are not high-income earners. If you sold your principal house and lived there for at least two of the five years before it sold, you can exclude up to $250,000 of your gain if you are single (or up to $500,000 if you are married and file a joint tax return).
5 Major Tax Tips For All Columbia SC Homeowners This Year
1 – You have to itemize. If you’re looking to get tax deductions for a home you bought, something you did to your home, or something that happened to your home, you’re going to have to itemize your deductions, rather than taking the standard deduction. Fortunately, if you’re filing through TurboTax or another credible online program, you can itemize everything and then see whether or not you’ve topped the standard deduction, saving you a lot of complicated math.
2 – The Interest Deduction. The interest paid on your mortgage for being a Columbia SC homeowner might be good for a tax break. If you paid interest on your mortgage in 2012, it may be deductible. Basically, if you are itemizing deductions and you are filing a 1040, and your home loan qualifies, you can write off some or all of the interest you paid.
If you became a new Columbia SC homeowner in 2012, on a mortgage of up to $1 million, you can deduct the interest you paid at settlement if you itemize your deductions. This amount should be included in the mortgage interest statement provided by your lender.
If you paid points to obtain your mortgage, these fees are included on the income tax deductions list and can be deducted as long as they are associated with the purchase of the home. If you refinanced your home, these points are still deductible, but it must be done over the life of the mortgage.
3 – Property taxes. Property taxes are sort of all over the map in the U.S., but a lot of areas offer tax breaks on property taxes as incentives for homeowners. Property tax exemptions vary not just by state, but by jurisdictions within each state. Research and paperwork might require some time, but the effort could lower your tax bill noticeably if you’re a Columbia SC homeowner.
4 – Home Office. More and more people are working from home these days (unless you work for Yahoo!). If you use a portion of your home exclusively for the purpose of an office for your small business, you may be able to claim a deduction on your taxes for costs related to insurance, repairs and depreciation. You may only claim this deduction if the space within your home is used exclusively and regularly as either your principal place of business or a place where you meet and deal with customers or patients. You may also be able to take advantage of this deduction if a portion of your home routinely is used for storing items (product samples, inventory, etc.) used in your business.
5 – Home Improvements. As a Columbia SC homeowner, if you installed new, energy-efficient appliances, doors, windows, or other systems in your home and haven’t exceeded the consumer energy efficient credit in previous years, you can save up to $500 (or even more), just for going green!
If you’ve taken out a loan to make improvements on your home, you may be able to deduct the interest on this loan. Qualifying loans are those taken out to add “capital improvements” to your home, meaning the improvement must increase your home’s value, adapt it to new uses or extend its life. New carpeting or painting are not considered capital improvements, while adding a garage, installing a water heater or building a deck are all examples of capital improvements.
Obviously there are many more deductions you may qualify for as a Columbia SC homeowner, but these are 5 of the most common. We strongly suggest you consult with an accountant or tax attorney if you’re not familiar with all the laws and changes that may or may not affect you as a Columbia SC homeowner.
For more tax tips, hop over to our Taxes Category under the Columbia SC Real Estate Categories to your right. We have a lot of additional tax tips for you there.
The turnaround in the Columbia SC housing market is spurring job growth, and expected to double the number of construction related jobs this year…
With job growth comes even more positive economic news in the Columbia SC housing industry, as interest rates to buy all those new homes has remained low, relative to a few years ago when rates were 5, 6 and 7 percent or higher.
We will stay on top of all the news affecting the Columbia SC housing market and pass news along to you here on our website. Check out the news section of articles under the Columbia SC Real Estate Categories to your right listed as Columbia SC Real Estate News. And as always, if you have any questions, sound off below.