Cash for Caulkers: Appealing to Home Shoppers?

Congress is about to approve a program to put contractors back to work doing energy retrofits.

If “Cash for Caulkers” passes, home owners will be eligible for a tax credit worth up to $12,000 or half the cost of the retrofits, whichever is lower.

A home owner who spends $24,000 to cut his energy use in half will save an average of $100 per month, estimates Lane Burt, manager of building energy policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council. With a $12,000 tax rebate from the government, the payback will take 10 years.

Some real estate practitioners pointed out that energy retrofits might be a hard sell because they don’t raise a home’s sale value. “It sounds good on paper, but it’s just not how the American consumer makes choices,” says Jeff Geoghan, a Coldwell Banker REALTOR® in Lancaster, Pa. “If you’re buying a house, and you see a furnace has a 95 percent efficiency rating, are you really going to make your decision based on that?”

Source: CNNMoney.com, Steve Hargreaves (02/04/2010)

Mortgage Rates Rise in Response to Wind-Down of Federal Support

2009 saw historically low mortgage rates.  Early last year, the Federal Reserve announced plans to purchase debt and mortgage-backed securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lower interest rates for consumers and spur homebuying.  As a result, rates on 30-year, fixed mortgages fell to historic lows.

2010 rates are expected to rise because the Fed’s asset purchase program is scheduled to expire at the end of the first quarter of 2010, and a lack of private demand for mortgage-backed securities could lead to a rise in rates.

“No down payment” loans were very popular during the height of the boom.  For those types of loans, borrowers were not required to put down any money on a house to secure a mortgage.  “No down Payment” loans are now practically nonexistent.  Currently, most lenders require borrowers to put down at least 10 percent, if not more, to secure a loan.  Down payments definitely help protect the lender, but they may also be beneficial to buyers.  For example, the higher the down payment, the lower the loan amount, the lower the monthly payment and the lower the total interest over the life of the loan.

Stakes are high as government plans exit from mortgage markets
The wind-down of federal support for mortgage rates, set to end in two months, is a momentous test of whether the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve have succeeded in jump-starting the housing market and ensuring it can hold its own.

To read the full story, please click here.

Southern California Home Buyer & Seller Fair

Don’t miss the third annual Southern California Home Buyer’s Fair!

Thousands of potential home buyers are expected to converge the weekend of March 13 and March 14 at the Los Angeles Convention Center for the FREE third annual Southern California Home Buyer’s Fair. The event is sponsored by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) and the Los Angeles Times.
The Southern California Home Buyer’s Fair, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, March 13, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, March 14, features more than 50 educational “how-to” seminars designed to help home buyers navigate today’s real estate market with confidence and peace of mind.
Seminar topics range from understanding home prices and monitoring and fixing credit to applying for a mortgage and the importance of the home inspection. Several of the sessions also will be offered in Spanish.
The event is free to the public. In addition, the first 200 attendees each day will receive a free movie ticket (one ticket per person).
C.A.R. also has created a consumer fact sheet about the event. Please visit http://www.homebuyersfair.com/ for more information.

Cash for Clunkers for Appliances

Cash In on Appliance Savings

Don’t miss out on your chance to cash in on appliance savings.  The program is expected to begin in California in early spring.  It’s worth keeping an eye on the California Energy Commission’s website for up to the minute announcement.

If you are thinking about upgrading appliances, you might want to wait until the Cash for Clunkers for Appliances money is released.  It’s important not to wait for too long though because once the $35.2 million allotment is gone, it’s over.

Eligible Appliances

Three residential appliance categories will be eligible to receive rebates: clothes washers (proposed rebate $100), refrigerators (proposed rebate $75), and room air conditioners (proposed rebate $50).  This can be a great time to save even more than is available with sale prices.

More Incentives

Many California utilities, as well as appliance manufacturers offer additional rebates or incentives.  The Flex Your Power website lists 155 incentives for the “residential sector” just in the 93561 zip code.

More Savings on the Horizon

In addition to the appliance incentives, President Obama has also proposed a “Cash for Caulkers” program.  This would provide up to $12,000 per homeowner.  You can read about the proposal here.  For the tongue-in-cheek approach as only Jon Stewart can deliver it, you can check out the Daily Show’s Most Immature Montage Ever.

Keep watching to take advantage of the chance to save some money.