Monthly Archives: August 2017

Minnesota Introduces First Time Homebuyers Savings Accounts

First-time homebuyer

The Minnesota legislature recently passed a new law that included the First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account Act, which now allows individuals or couples to save the money they need in a tax-preferred savings account to go toward the purchase of a home.

With this new law, it just got easier for Minnesotans to start saving for their first home.

Not only is it easier to save for a down payment on a first home, contributions will also help cover additional closing costs, taxes and fees associated with buying a home.

Because now you can save the money you need for such an important life investment in a tax preferred savings account where the interest and dividends from those funds can be claimed as a state tax deduction.

It’s an initiative to incentivize homeownership, which is the backbone of safe neighborhoods, healthy schools, a consistent labor force and stronger communities, especially here in Minnesota.

In a recovering housing market in the wake of the worst recession in 70 years, a variety of strategies are needed to support and encourage homeownership. Creating this savings account is a great first step.

Minnesota residents can now open a dedicated savings account for the purchase of a first home regardless of income.Click To Tweet

Here’s five things you need to know about the First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account Act:

  • Individuals or couples can establish a dedicated savings account at their local bank or credit union for the purchase of a first home in Minnesota regardless of their income.
  • Parents or grandparents can open an account for their children or grandchildren and contribute to those accounts as well.
  • Account holders can save up to $150,000 total with interest and dividends. Maximum contributions are set for married joint filers at $100,000 and all other filers at $50,000.
  • Annual contributions are capped at $28,000 for married joint filers and $14,000 for all other filers.
  • All interest and dividends earned on this account can be claimed as a state income tax deduction.

Contact a Minnesota REALTOR® to learn more.

Kaua`i REALTORS® Work To Revitalize The Lihu`e Business District

Lihu`e

A hundred years ago downtown Lihu`e was a bustling and emerging center of commerce. The old Lihue Plantation stables were demolished to make way for the new Tip Top theater and a large general store that would rival the Honolulu Emporium was going up. Lihu`e was no longer a village primarily made up of field laborers as more and more merchants and entrepreneurs began to set up shop.

According to the Hawaii Business article “Rebirth on Rice Street”, the business district of Lihu`e of is very different in 2017. “Today, sidewalks are sidewalks are narrow, cracked and littered. Parks, lawns and benches are hangouts for the homeless. Once a proud gathering place, Rice Street is now little more than a thoroughfare for motorists en route to someplace else.”

Karen Ono, Executive Officer on the Kaua`i Board of REALTORS® agrees, “It’s the heart of Lihue, but when you look at it, it’s the dying heart of Lihue.” The Kaua`i Board of REALTORS® has taken a pro-active role in the area’s revival, partnering with Kaua`i County’s efforts to breathe life back into the Lihu`e business district.

The Kaua`i Board of REALTORS® has taken a pro-active role in breathing life back into the Lihu`e business district.Click To Tweet

The Kaua`i Board wanted to supplement the $13,000,000 National “TIGER” Grant (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) the county had already received for the business district’s improvement. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has a Smart Growth Action Grant that supports a wide range of land-use related activities and the board felt it would be a good fit for the Kaua`i project. NAR agreed and gave the board $15,000 to put towards revitalization efforts. The Kaua`i Board of REALTORS® increased NAR’s contribution by adding an additional $1,500 of their own money to go towards consulting fees as the project moves forward.

The County and the Rice Street Community have been very excited to have the local REALTORS® involved. The local REALTOR® “Young Peoples Network” has been spreading the word by canvassing the businesses along Rice Street and the Kaua`i Board  has sent notices by mail to Kaua`i landowners and stakeholders to create awareness within the community.

The Kaua`i Board is actively participating with the Rice Street Branding committee as the second phase consultant is being brought onboard to assist in facilitating a standing Rice Street Community Association. The initial group is meeting on a weekly basis and is planning a launch of the new Rice Street Brand on site with a Rice Street Block party in late September 2017.

The event will create a festive party atmosphere by temporarily closing an area of Rice Street to traffic, encouraging local businesses to stay open and bringing in live entertainment, food trucks, artists, and activities for both adults and keiki.  The street will be realigned in accordance with the “TIGER” grant design making the area multimodal by adding additional on street parking, bike lanes, and additional pedestrian crosswalks.

The Kaua`i Board of REALTORS® continues to be active across the island. It has recently used a placemaking grant in partnership with two non-profit organizations, Malama Hulei`a and Hale Opio, to create a new historic photo exhibit at the Niumalu Beach Park Pavilion.

 

Unlocking Home Ownership for Mississippians

First-time Homebuyers Savings Account in Mississippi

Coming up with a hefty down payment will no longer be a huge hurdle for people buying their first home in Mississippi.

That’s because buying a first home just got easier.

The Mississippi legislature recently passed a law creating First-time Homebuyers Savings Accounts, which allows individuals or couples to save the money they need in a tax-free savings account to go toward the purchase of a home.

No longer do you have to worry about coming up with the money necessary to cover the additional closing costs, taxes and fees associated with buying a home.

Now you can save the money you need for such an important life investment tax-free.

It’s an initiative to incentivize homeownership, which is the backbone of safe neighborhoods, healthy schools, a consistent labor force and stronger communities, especially here in Mississippi.

In a recovering housing market in the wake of the worst recession in 70 years, a variety of strategies are needed to support and encourage homeownership. Creating this savings account is a great first step.

Here are five things you need to know about the First-time Homebuyers Savings Account in Mississippi:

  • Any Mississippian who has never purchased, owned or partially-owned a home in Mississippi or any other state is eligible. Parents and grandparents can open an account for their children or grandchildren and contribute to that account as well.
  • Individuals or couples can establish a dedicated savings account at their local bank, credit union or financial institution licensed to do business in Mississippi for the purchase of a first home regardless of their income.
  • There is no maximum for the amount that can be saved overall as long as one of the qualified account holders remains alive.
  • Annual deductions are capped at $5,000 for married joint filers and $2,500 for all other filers. You can deposit more than that into the account, but any amount exceeding the aforementioned totals is not eligible for a tax deduction.
  • All interest and dividends earned on this account can be claimed as an income tax deduction.

Visit FirstHomeMS.org or contact a Mississippi REALTOR® to learn more.

Video: Think Student Debt’s Not YOUR Problem? Think Again…

Nowadays it’s common place for students to graduate with over $40,000 in debt and wind up paying between $300 and $400 a month. Often times it’s that added debt that keeps young adults from qualifying for a competitive home loan.

And, while most never plan to default on their student loans, life sometimes happens. Of well over 40 million borrowers, over 10 million are in default, forbearance, deferment, or grace periods.

The problem is, defaulting on student loans can put the dream of homeownership out of reach for years. And, if not handled properly, student loan defaults can be more difficult to navigate than just about any other kind of obligation, particularly in the bankruptcy arena. These are among the reasons why government policies regarding student debt are so important.

What You Need To Know About Flood Insurance

Flooding

Here is all you need to know about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and the proposed legislation to reauthorize the program once it expires at the end of the year.

  • Every five years, Congress must reauthorize the NFIP to continue selling flood insurance; the next deadline for Congress to act is September 30, of this year, or the program shuts down.
  • The NFIP was created in 1968 following Hurricane Betsy, which became known as “Billion Dollar Betsy” because it was the first storm to cost more than $1 billion in damage.
  • The NFIP chugged along smoothly for nearly 40 years before it started to get into debt when flooding incidents increased and costs began to rise beyond the point of funds available in the program.
  • In 2008, the NFIP was $18 billion in debt and Congress debated how to reform the NFIP without consensus. There were a series of 18 short-term extensions and four program lapses between 2008 and 2012.
  • In 2012, Congress came to an agreement known as the Biggert-Waters Reform Act. It reauthorized the NFIP for five more years and addressed the program’s fiscal solvency.
  • However, a bunch of unintended consequences arose from Biggert-Waters. Subsidies were eliminated when properties built before the creation of flood maps were purchased. Homebuyers were quoted a grandfathered rate and then two weeks before closing were told that would increase by five times the price, and had to walk away.
  • In 2014, the Grimm-Waters Act, also known as the Homeowner Affordability Insurance Relief Act, was passed. It restored grandfathering, capped rate increases and eliminated the point of sale increases.
  • Now, in 2017, the NFIP is $25 billion in debt and repeatedly flooding properties account for 1 percent of NFIP policies but 30% of all claims.
  • The House Financial Services Committee passed seven bills addressing the NFIP in June addressing things such as private flood insurance, changes to the claims process and new flood mapping procedures.
  • House leadership has not scheduled a vote but is expected to combine all seven bills into one bill, with modifications, before the full House of Representations can consider the omnibus measure.

Here is what you need to know about the current legislation.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) supports the legislation, including:

  1. A new five-year reauthorization through 2022.
  2. The Ross-Castor Private Flood Bill that allows for a growing private flood insurance market and provides individual property owners with the same amount of coverage at the least amount of cost.
  3. Strengthens the NFIP solvency.
  4. Allows for $1 billion in property mitigation grants that will help lessen the sting of rate increases for property owners.
  5. Doubles the increased cost of compliance and allows for pre-flood insurance rates.
  6. Improves the rate fairness of the NFIP.
  7. Caps NFIP rates for the first time ever at $10,000
  8. Streamlines the community map appeals process.

*Note: Some Information from Realtor.com was used in this report.

[social_warfare]

WATCH THE VIDEO:

READ MORE ABOUT FLOODING:

Video: Do You Know What N.F.I.P. Stands For?

If you haven’t heard about the National Flood Insurance Program, you may want to watch this video because what you don’t know can cost you. Big dollars.

Next Steps for Flood Insurance

The National Flood Insurance Program must be reauthorized by Congress every 5 years in order to continue selling flood insurance. That authority is again due to expire at the end of the year unless Congress acts to extend it.

Newly Passed House Bill Will Avert Flood Insurance Disaster

The State of Hawaii has passed House Bill 1418 to clarify our state building laws and avert a disaster in our federal flood insurance coverage.

Quiz: Flood Insurance

Take our quiz and find out how much you know about floods and flood insurance.

Heavy Rains in Hawai’i Can Cause Catastrophic Damage to Property

Heavy rains can happen at any time and can result in flash floods. In October 2004, a flash flood in Manoa, a residential neighborhood in Honolulu, caused $85 million in damage.

Hawai’i Homeowners May Find Themselves Without National Flood Insurance

Hawaiians who rely on the National Flood Insurance Program may soon find themselves without any protection if the state government doesn’t act soon.

4 Steps To Help You Protect Your Home Investment

Whether you plan on staying in your new home for five years or fifty, it’s important to make sure you are protecting your investment.

Gulf Coast REALTORS® to Sponsor Flood-Insurance Conference

Property owners in Mississippi’s Gulf Coast region have suffered a number of hardships over the last 10 years, and the Gulf Coast Association of REALTORS® has been working to help them deal with issues arising from those hardships.

Fargo-Moorhead REALTORS® Search for Flooding Solutions

When flooding occurs on the Red River of the North, you can find members of the Fargo-Moorhead Area Association of REALTORS® on the front lines, helping with emergency responses and efforts to find long-term solutions. Homeowners in the Fargo-Moorhead …

Mississippi REALTORS® Seek Disaster Aid for Homeowners

The Mississippi Association of REALTORS® is advocating for legislation that will provide Mississippi homeowners with important information and resources in connection with natural disasters. This proposed legislation is intended to address some of the …

Video: Do You Know What N.F.I.P. Stands For?

When we think about flood insurance we may think about expensive beach front homes and maybe even think they don’t belong there in the first place.   But flood insurance is needed in over 22,000 communities across our nation, including many that are home to average every day Americans who happen to live near a stream, lake, river of other sort of not so fancy wetland, many who may not even realize they need flood insurance, and even more who could never afford the kinds of price increases some in Washington have in store.

[social_warfare]

READ MORE ABOUT FLOODING

What You Need To Know About Flood Insurance

Here is all you need to know about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and the proposed legislation to reauthorize the program once it expires at the end of the year.

Next Steps for Flood Insurance

The National Flood Insurance Program must be reauthorized by Congress every 5 years in order to continue selling flood insurance. That authority is again due to expire at the end of the year unless Congress acts to extend it.

Newly Passed House Bill Will Avert Flood Insurance Disaster

The State of Hawaii has passed House Bill 1418 to clarify our state building laws and avert a disaster in our federal flood insurance coverage.

Quiz: Flood Insurance

Take our quiz and find out how much you know about floods and flood insurance.

Heavy Rains in Hawai’i Can Cause Catastrophic Damage to Property

Heavy rains can happen at any time and can result in flash floods. In October 2004, a flash flood in Manoa, a residential neighborhood in Honolulu, caused $85 million in damage.

Hawai’i Homeowners May Find Themselves Without National Flood Insurance

Hawaiians who rely on the National Flood Insurance Program may soon find themselves without any protection if the state government doesn’t act soon.

4 Steps To Help You Protect Your Home Investment

Whether you plan on staying in your new home for five years or fifty, it’s important to make sure you are protecting your investment.

Gulf Coast REALTORS® to Sponsor Flood-Insurance Conference

Property owners in Mississippi’s Gulf Coast region have suffered a number of hardships over the last 10 years, and the Gulf Coast Association of REALTORS® has been working to help them deal with issues arising from those hardships.

Fargo-Moorhead REALTORS® Search for Flooding Solutions

When flooding occurs on the Red River of the North, you can find members of the Fargo-Moorhead Area Association of REALTORS® on the front lines, helping with emergency responses and efforts to find long-term solutions. Homeowners in the Fargo-Moorhead …

Mississippi REALTORS® Seek Disaster Aid for Homeowners

The Mississippi Association of REALTORS® is advocating for legislation that will provide Mississippi homeowners with important information and resources in connection with natural disasters. This proposed legislation is intended to address some of the …