Shari Olefson's blog

The US Tax Code has not been comprehensively revised for almost 30 years, but over 15,000 changes have made it incredibly complicated. When it comes time for big change, normally the Senate and House committees drafts Bills for circulation. But this time, any solutions are bound to be unpopular. When it comes to tax benefits verses tax rates, every $2 trillion benefits adds 1 to 2% to tax rates so one way or another someone is not happy. So the Senate Finance Committee came up with the “Blank Slate” approach.

First-time buyers' share of existing-home sales was 28% in May, down from 34% in 2012. What does it mean? Competition from investors, tight credit, personal finances are all obstacles. First time buyers, unlike others, struggle more with saving a down payment, credit blemishes, and income not rising as fast as home prices. So why does it matter? First time buyers play a critical role in housing recovery, allowing current owners to move up. With rent rising, it is more affordable to buy than to rent in most markets.

First-time buyers are missing in action in housing markets across the country. Traditionally first-timers have accounted for around 40 percent of resale purchases. But in May, according to the National Association of Realtors, they were just 28 percent, down from 29 percent in April and 34 percent a year ago. Big deal? Yes. If predominantly young, first-time purchasers are not entering the homeownership pipeline near their traditional rate, at some point the system begins to choke. Owners of modest-priced starter homes find it more difficult to sell and move up.

The summer season has started and what better time to check out some “under the radar” vacation markets? With the National Association of Realtors reporting that vacation home buyer activity is on the rise, Yuma has made a national list of places that are off the beaten path but packed with promise and value.

India is a beautiful country. But any US woman traveling there for pleasure may want to think long and hard about the opportunity to let your dollars talk and plan another visit instead.

Click Here To See Full Article.

Cash buyers are increasingly out pacing first time home buyers for many months in a row now. We have verified frenzies of cash and investor home buyers in several regions now.  Unlike some folks, this does not concern me. Sure it translates to challenges for non cash buyers trying to buy a home and having to compete with these guys.

Over 13 million homeowners still owe their banks more than their homes are worth.  But if you also count folks with less than 20% equity (about the amount needed to pay selling costs such as Realtor commissions and to walk away with enough for a down payment on a new home)that number jumps to over 22 million!  (in some of the harder hit areas, over 70% of homeowners with a mortgage fall into this bucket).  

The ripple effects are impacting all of us…

WASHINGTON — House Speaker John A. Boehner on Thursday called the rise of sexual assaults in the military a “national disgrace” as lawmakers in both chambers of Congress moved closer this week to legislation to address the problem.

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