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The Hollinden Team Louisville KY Real Estate Blog

Open House Weather

 During my open house on Sunday, the weather was crappy.  40 degrees and light rain.  Yet, we had several interested buyers.  As my colleagues sat around the Keller office on Monday comparing notes about the various open houses that we had held on Sunday, the consensus was that traffic was much higher than expected.  And, the buyers were serious.  Lets hope things continue....

$6500 move up tax credit

Some of the increase in recent real estate sales can be attributed to the general strengthening of the economy and some to the first time home buyer’s credit.
The $8,000 has definitely made a difference and brought more buyers into the market.  This enabled new people to purchase homes and those owners to move up.  Fortunately, this has been extended to April 30, 2010.  There has been some publicity, and as Realtors®, we think sales will increase again just before the deadline.  One interesting part of this extension is that a new group of homebuyers has also been targeted.  People that have lived in their home for 5 consecutive years of the last 8 are now eligible for a tax credit of $6,500. 
As a Realtor®, I think that everyone knows this. 
The reality, is that few people do. 
As word gets out about this tax credit, we think that even more people will have an incentive to move.  It is typically thought of as a “move-up” bonus, but it works in either direction. So, not only do we have the $8,000 to offer first time home buyers, we also have the $6,500 credit that affects even more people. 
Interest rates are still very low.  We are not sure how long they will stay at this level.

 
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First-Time Homebuyer Credit Questions and Answers: Homes Purchased in 2009

New legislation signed on Nov. 6, 2009, extends and expands the first-time homebuyer credit allowed by previous Acts. The new law:

  • extends deadlines for purchasing and closing on a home
  • authorizes the credit for long-time homeowners buying a replacement principal residence
  • raises the income limitations for homeowners claiming the credit 

Q. I bought my home in 2009 (early) and filed my 2008 tax return claiming the $7,500 first-time homebuyer credit that has to be repaid. Now the expanded law provides for an $8,000 credit that doesn’t have to be repaid. What do I need to do to get the $8,000 credit that doesn’t have to be paid back?

A. You can file an amended return.

Q. If I purchase a home in June 2009, and have already filed my 2008 tax return, can I amend my 2008 return or will I have to claim it on my 2009 return?  

A. You can either file an amended return to claim it on your 2008 return or claim it on your 2009 return.

Q. I am in the process of buying a home. Can I claim the first-time homebuyer credit now? That would allow me to use the refund for a down payment.

A. No. You may not claim the credit in anticipation of a purchase that has yet to happen. Until you have finalized the purchase of your home, which for most purchasers occurs at the time of the closing, you do not qualify for the credit. IRS news release 2009-27, First-Time Homebuyers Have Several Options to Maximize New Tax Credit, contains details for filing options if the home is purchased after April 15, 2009.

Q: When must I pay back the credit for the home I purchased in 2009?

A:  Generally, there is no requirement to pay back the credit for a principal residence purchased in 2009 or early 2010. The obligation to repay the credit arises only if the home ceases to be your principal residence within 36 months from the date of purchase. The full amount of the credit received becomes due on the return for the year the home ceased being your principal residence.

Q. If I claim the first-time homebuyer credit for a purchase in 2009 or early 2010 and stop using the property as my principal residence before the 36 month period expires after I purchase, how is the credit repaid and how long would I have to repay it?

A. If, within 36 months of the date of purchase, the property is no longer used as your principal residence, you are required to repay the credit. Repayment of the full amount of the credit is due at the time the income tax return for the year the home ceased to be your principal residence is due. The full amount of the credit is reflected as additional tax on that year's tax return. Form 5405 and its instructions will be revised for tax year 2009 to include information about repayment of the credit.

Q:  I’m already a homeowner. If I buy another home after Nov. 6, 2009, to use as my principal residence, do I have to sell my home to qualify for the homebuyer tax credit?

A: No. If you meet all of the requirements for the credit, the law does not require you to sell or otherwise dispose of your current principal residence to qualify for a credit of up to $6,500 when you buy a replacement home to use as your principal residence. The requirements are that you must buy, or enter into a binding contract to buy, the replacement principal residence after Nov. 6, 2009, and on or before April 30, 2010, and close on the home by June 30, 2010. Additionally, you must have lived in the same principal residence for any five-consecutive-year period during the eight-year period that ended on the date the replacement home is purchased. For example, if you bought a home on Nov. 30, 2009, the eight-year period would run from Dec. 1, 2001, through Nov. 30, 2009. (11/17/09)

Married and Co-Purchasing Homebuyers

Q. I am a long-time resident (have owned and used my current home as a principal residence for five consecutive years out of the eight-year period ending on the date of purchase of the new residence) but my spouse has lived there for only three years. Can we qualify for the long-time resident homebuyer credit if we purchase a new principal residence?

A. No. Both spouses must have owned and used the same previous principal residence for five consecutive years out of the 8-year period ending on the date of purchase of the new principal residence to qualify for the credit. (12/14/09)

Q.  I am a long-time resident and current homeowner and my spouse is a first-time homebuyer (has had no ownership interest in a principal residence during the three-year period ending on the date of purchase of a new principal residence) and we purchased a new principal residence. Can we qualify for either the first-time homebuyer credit or the long-time resident homebuyer credit if we purchase a new principal residence?

A. No. Both you and your spouse must be first-time homebuyers in order to qualify for the first-time homebuyer tax credit. Since you had an ownership interest in a principal residence during the three-year period ending on the date of purchase, neither you nor your spouse qualifies for the credit. Similarly, both you and your spouse must be long-time homeowners of the same previous principal residence in order to qualify for the long-time resident homebuyer credit. Since your spouse is not a long-time homeowner of your current principal residence, neither of you qualify for the credit. (12/14/09)

Q. I am a long-time homeowner of a principal residence and my spouse is a long-time homeowner of a different principal residence. Can we qualify for the long-time resident homebuyer credit if we purchase a new principal residence?

A. No. Both spouses must have owned and used the same previous principal residence for five consecutive years out of the eight-year period ending on the date of purchase of the new principal residence to be eligible for the credit. Since you and your spouse owned and used different principal residences, neither of you qualify. (12/14/09)

Q. How does the allocation provision work when unmarried taxpayers purchase a home together and both qualify for the first-time homebuyer credit under different tests? 

A. Co-purchasers who are not married may allocate the credit using a reasonable method. A reasonable method is any method that does not allocate any portion of the credit to a taxpayer who is not eligible for that portion of the credit. The maximum credit for a taxpayer who qualifies under the long-time resident test is $6,500, and the maximum credit for a taxpayer who qualifies under the first-time homebuyer test is $8,000. One example of a reasonable method is to allocate $6,500 to the long-time resident homebuyer and $1,500 to the first-time homebuyer. (12/14/09)

Home Construction

Q. I plan to build a home and occupy it in 2009 or early 2010. Can I claim the first-time homebuyer credit now and use the funds toward the down payment or other ongoing construction costs?

A. No. To qualify for the first time home buyer credit, the residence must be purchased. By statute, a residence which is constructed by the taxpayer is treated as purchased on the date the taxpayer first occupies the residence. (05/06/09)

Q. I entered into a written  home construction contract with a homebuilder before May 1, 2010, and the contract provides for completion of the home before July 1, 2010. Can I take the credit...

First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Scenarios

The following information is reproduced directly from the IRS.gov website.

S1. If a single person (Taxpayer A) qualifies as a first-time homebuyer at the time he/she purchases a home with someone (Taxpayer B) that is not a first-time homebuyer and then later that year they marry each other, is the credit still allowed?

A. Eligibility for the first-time homebuyer credit is determined on the date of purchase. If Taxpayer A, a first-time homebuyer, buys a house and then later that year marries Taxpayer B, not a first-time homebuyer, the credit is allowable to Taxpayer A. Taxpayer A may take the maximum credit.

S2. Taxpayer A is a single first-time home buyer. Taxpayer B (parent) cosigns for A and does not qualify. Both names are on the mortgage. Can Taxpayer A claim the credit and, if so, how much? 

A. Yes. Taxpayer B is not a first-time homebuyer and cannot claim any portion of the credit, but A may claim the entire credit ($7,500 for purchase in 2008; $8,000 for purchase in 2009), if the home was purchased as Taxpayer A's primary residence.

S3. A taxpayer owned her principal residence. Several years ago, she decided to relocate to a rented apartment, but did not sell the former residence. Instead, she rented it out to tenants. Now the taxpayer plans to buy another house and make it her new principal residence. Does she qualify for the first-time homebuyer credit?

A. A taxpayer who owned rental property within the past three years is still eligible for the credit. The taxpayer cannot have owned and used a home as his or her principal residence within the last three years.

S4. If husband and wife wanted to sell the home that the wife owned when they got married, and the husband had not owned a home within the past three years, could he qualify as a first-time homebuyer for the credit even though the wife would not qualify?

A. No. The purchase date determines whether a taxpayer is a first-time homebuyer. Since the wife had ownership interest in a principal residence within the prior three years, neither taxpayer may take the first-time homebuyer credit. Section 36(c)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code requires that the taxpayer and the taxpayer's spouse not have an ownership interest in a principal residence within the prior three years from the date of purchase. The husband may not take the credit even if he filed on a separate return.

S5. Taxpayer purchased a home on April 24, 2008, while she was separated from her husband. Later in the year, they reconciled and were living together at the end of 2008. She has not owned a home since 2004 but he owned one which he sold in 2006. They remained married the entire time. Is the taxpayer eligible for the first-time homebuyer credit?

A. No. The purchase date determines whether a taxpayer is a first-time homebuyer. Since the husband had ownership interest in a principal residence within the prior three years, and the taxpayers were legally married, neither taxpayer may take the first-time homebuyer credit. Section 36(c)(1) requires that the taxpayer and the taxpayer's spouse not have an ownership interest in a principal residence within the prior three years from the date of purchase. While individuals do not have to be married to get the credit, marriage (and legal separation) imputes ownership of a previous home upon the other spouse. The wife may not take the credit even if she filed on a separate return.

S6. I have been estranged from my spouse for over three years and file married filing separate. I don’t know if my spouse has owned a main home in the last three years, but I have not. If I buy a house in 2009 that otherwise qualifies for the first-time homebuyer credit, can I claim the credit?

A. Section 36(c)(1) requires that the taxpayer and the taxpayer's spouse not have an ownership interest in a principal residence within the three years prior to the date of purchase. While individuals do not have to be married to get the credit, marriage (and legal separation) imputes ownership of a previous home upon the other spouse. If your spouse has not owned a main home in the last three years, then you may claim the credit.

S7. I am separated from my spouse and considered unmarried, and qualify for the unmarried head of household filing status. My spouse has owned a main home in the last three years, but I have not. If I buy a home on May 1, 2009, that otherwise qualifies, can I claim the first-time homebuyer credit?

A. No. Section 36(c)(1) requires that the taxpayer and the taxpayer's spouse not have an ownership interest in a principal residence within the three years prior to the date of purchase. While individuals do not have to be married to get the credit, marriage (and legal separation) imputes ownership of a previous home upon the other spouse. The taxpayer may not take the credit even if filed on a separate return.

S8. A qualifying taxpayer bought a home in August 2008 that needed a lot of work before occupying. They finished the renovations and moved in the home in January 2009. Can they claim the $8,000, since they did not occupy the home until 2009?

A. No. Taxpayers who purchase an existing home and renovate the property before moving in are eligible for the first-time homebuyer credit based on the date of purchase, not the date of occupancy. 

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Homebuyer Tax Credit Questions and Answers

Updated Nov. 6, 2009, to note new legislation. The new legislation extends and expands the first-time homebuyer credit allowed by previous Acts. The new law:

  • extends deadlines for purchasing and closing on a home
  • authorizes the credit for long-time homeowners buying a replacement principal residence
  • raises the income limitations for homeowners claiming the credit 

Q. What is the credit?

A. The first-time homebuyer credit is a new tax credit included in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. For homes purchased in 2008, the credit operates like an interest-free loan because it must be repaid over a 15-year period.

The credit was expanded in 2009 for homes purchased in 2009, increasing the amount of the credit and eliminating the requirement to repay the credit, unless the home ceases to be your principal residence within the 36-month period beginning on the purchase date. It was further expanded in late 2009 to extend deadlines and to allow long-time homeowners buying replacement homes and people with higher incomes to qualify for the credit. (11/12/09)

Q. How much is the credit?

A. The credit is 10 percent of the purchase price of the home, with a maximum available credit of $7,500 ($8,000 if you purchased your home in 2009 or early 2010) for either a single taxpayer or a married couple filing a joint return, but only half of that amount for married persons filing separate returns. The full credit is available for homes costing $75,000 or more ($80,000 in 2009 or early 2010). Long-time homeowners who buy a replacement home after Nov. 6, 2009, or in early 2010 may qualify for a credit of up to $6,500, or $3,250 for a married person filing a separate return. (11/19/09)

Q. Which home purchases qualify for the first-time homebuyer credit?

A. Any home purchased as your principal residence and located in the United States qualifies. You must buy the home after April 8, 2008, and before May. 1, 2010 (with closing to take place before July 1), to qualify for the credit. For a home that you construct, the purchase date is considered to be the first date you occupy the home.

Normally, taxpayers (including spouse, if married) who owned a principal residence at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase are not eligible for the credit. This means that you can qualify for the credit if you (and your spouse, if married) have not owned a home in the three years prior to a purchase. However, a long-time homeowner can also get the credit for a qualifying replacement home purchased after Nov. 6, 2009. To qualify, you must have owned and used the same home as your principal residence for at least five consecutive years of the eight-year period ending on the date you by your new principal residence.

If you make an eligible purchase in 2008, you claim the first-time homebuyer credit on your 2008 tax return. For an eligible purchase in 2009, you can choose to claim the credit on either your 2008 or 2009 income tax return. For an eligible purchase in 2010, you can choose to claim the credit on either your 2009 or 2010 return. (11/19/09)

Q. If a taxpayer purchases a mobile home (manufactured home) with land and qualifies for the credit, is the amount of the credit based on the combined cost of the home and land?

A. Yes. The first-time homebuyer credit is ten percent of the purchase price of a principal residence. The total purchase price (mobile home and land) is used to determine the amount of the first-time homebuyer credit.

Q. Is a taxpayer who purchases a mobile home and places the home on leased land eligible for the first-time homebuyer credit?

A. Yes. A mobile home may qualify as a principal residence and it is not necessary that the taxpayer own the land to qualify for the first-time homebuyer credit.

Q. Can a taxpayer who purchases a travel trailer qualify for the credit?

A. A travel trailer that is affixed to land may qualify as a principal residence.   

Q. Can an individual who has lived in an RV qualify for the credit?

A.  For purposes of the first-time homebuyer credit, an RV with a built-in motor is personal property that is not affixed to land and does not qualify as a principal residence. Accordingly, someone who has owned and lived in an RV within the past three years may still qualify as a first-time homebuyer.

 

Q. Can I apply for the credit if I bought a vacation home or rental property?

A. No. Vacation homes and rental property do not qualify for this credit.

Q. Who is considered to be a first-time homebuyer?

A. Taxpayers who have not owned another principal residence at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase are considered first-time homebuyers. For example, if you bought a home on July 1, 2008, you cannot take the credit for that home if you owned, or had an ownership interest in, another principal residence at any time from July 2, 2005, through July 1, 2008. In addition, Long-time homeowners who buy a replacement home after Nov. 6, 2009 or in early 2010 can also qualify. Under this rule, you must have owned and used the same home as your principal residence for at least five consecutive years of the eight-year period ending on the date you by your new principal residence. For an eligible taxpayer who, for example, bought a home on Nov. 30, 2009, the eight-year period would run from Dec. 1, 2001, through Nov. 30, 2009. (11/19/09)

Q. Can a dependent on someone else’s tax return claim the first time homebuyer credit if they otherwise qualify?

A. Different rules apply depending upon whether a dependent buys a home after Nov. 6, 2009, or on or before that date. Dependents are not eligible to claim the credit on any purchase after Nov. 6, 2009. However, a dependent who buys a home on or before Nov. 6, 2009 may qualify for the credit. (11/19/09) 

Q. Can a minor buy a home and claim the credit?

A. Usually, no. However, different rules apply to purchases after Nov. 6, 2009 and those on or before that date.

Minors are generally barred from claiming the credit on home purchases after Nov. 6, 2009. To qualify for the credit, a purchaser must be at least 18 years of age on the date of purchase. For a married couple, only one spouse must meet this age requirement. A dependent is not eligible for the credit, regardless of age.

For purchases on or before Nov. 6, 2009, the tax law does not bar a minor from buying a home and claiming the credit. However, taxpayers who do not otherwise qualify for the credit do not become eligible for the credit simply by using a minor child’s name. In addition, under state law, children under the age of 18 generally are not bound by any contract they sign and cannot be required to comply with the terms of the contract. Thus, it is extremely unlikely that a seller of a home, or a lender if financing is required, would enter into a bona fide sale of a home to a child. Merely using the child’s name to purchase a home does not qualify the child for the credit if, in substance, the child is not a bona fide purchaser of a home. (11/19/09)

 

Q. When do I have to buy a new home to get the credit?

A. The credit is available for eligible home purchases after April 8, 2008. You must enter into a binding contract to buy the home before May 1, 2010 and close before July 1, 2010, in order to obtain the credit. For a home you construct, the purchase date is considered to be the date you first occupy the home. (11/19/09)

Q. How do I apply for the credit?

A. The credit is claimed on IRS ...