Thursday, April 17, 2008

Housing market continues plunge

Low-end houses slip; high-end ones stagnate
  • April 15 provides an annual reminder about the tax benefits of owning a home: Most people know that mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible in most cases, as is the interest paid when homeowners borrow against the equity in their home. What they may not realize is that the Tax Payer Relief Act of 1997 provides that owners who have lived in their home for more than two years don’t have to pay taxes on the first $250,000 of profits (if they are single) and $500,000 of profits (if the owners are married) when they sell the home.
  • Watch out for Generation Y prospects! The 2008 Swanepoel Trends Report notes that younger buyers represent a larger portion of the total home-buying population than ever before. Between 2003 and 2006, the percentage of under-30 homebuyers skyrocketed. Forty-two percent of the under-30 crowd reported owning a home, but what’s more surprising is that buyers under age 25 accounted for one-quarter of the home sales to this demographic group.
  • The economy has replaced transportation as the San Francisco Bay Region’s most pressing problem for only the ninth time in 28 years, according to an annual survey conducted in early March by the Bay Area Council. Twenty-two percent of residents surveyed ranked the economy first, 18 percent said transportation was the biggest issue, and 15 percent cited housing as the region’s greatest challenge in this year’s poll. The economy was last cited as the greatest issue in 2003, but only 7 percent of those surveyed in 2006 ranked it at the top of their list, reflecting the top-of-mind nature of the current mortgage credit and economic situations. Despite economic concerns, Bay Area residents were relatively optimistic: 59 percent said their financial situation would be about the same as last year, with 30 percent saying they expect to do even better this year. Only 13 percent said they expect to be worse off. And 74 percent rated their quality of life in the Bay Area “very well” or “going somewhat well.”

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