APRIL 2004 - THE TAX ISSUE
Tax Exemptions are Abounding in Home Ownership

There are so many benefits to home ownership - it's one of blessings that we can currently count on as U.S. residents in the new millennium. As we grow as proud homeowners, the government encourages us by revitalizing some very promising tax deductions.

Take Andy, for instance. He bought in the Oakwood section of Venice when it was a scary place and watched the renaissance. His property is now worth many times what he paid for it. Lucky guy.  More....

Deduction Time: Homeowners have a lot to Write Off

Nobody likes paying taxes, but some households can take more deductions than others. If you are a homeowner, you have the opportunity to take some special tax deductions that are not available to renters. If you own a home or are thinking about buying or selling, take a look at some of the perks the IRS offers so you can save yourself money.

1) Deduct your mortgage interest.
Homeowners get the perk of deducting all of the interest they pay on mortgage balances of $1 million or less ($500,000 if married filing separately). Tax director John Battaglia of Deloitte & Touche’s Private Client Advisors Group pointed out that if you’re in the 30 percent tax bracket and can afford $1,000 a month for your home before you take mortgage interest into account, that amount is actually $1,240 after taxes. If you figure $800 of that $1,000 payment is mortgage interest, as it can be in the early years of your mortgage, you’ll get 30 percent of that $800 back from the IRS, or $240. And so, a new homeowner can actually afford a $1,240 payment.
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INFOBITS…

STATEWIDE -> According to the California Association of Realtors, the 10 cities and communities statewide with the greatest median home-price increases in the fourth quarter of 2003 compared to the same period a year ago were:

Westlake Village - 58.8%
Sierra Madre - 56.7%
Fairfax - 49.3%
Sanger – 45%
Highland - 42.2%
Hermosa Beach - 40.4%
El Segundo - 37.8%
Perris - 37.5 percent%
Desert Hot Springs - 35.9%
Reedley - 35.3%

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10 Commandments for Successful Leaders

The Economist recently ran a list of the top qualities exhibited by successful leaders. That list includes:

1. A sound ethical compass
2. The ability to make unpleasant decisions
3. Clarity and focus
4. Ambition
5. Effective communication skills
6. The ability to judge people
7. A knack for developing talent
8. Emotional self-confidence
9. Adaptability
10. Charm

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The American Dream Downpayment Act

The American Dream Downpayment Act, H.R. 1276/S. 811, which passed in December, provides an average of $5,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance to help first-time home buyers with annual incomes that do not exceed 80 percent of the area median income.
Grants are made to state and local governments through HUD's HOME Investment Partnership program. Families interested in applying for grants should contact their state or local housing agency.

The American Dream Downpayment Act also includes two other important provisions backed by the National Association of Realtors. First, it will increase Federal Housing Administration loan limits for the construction of multifamily housing in high-cost areas. This will aim to increase private construction of affordable rental housing in the nation's high-cost urban and suburban areas. The per-unit maximum loan limit would increase from $194,190 to $218,465, which means the per-unit loan limit for a typical two-bedroom apartment in a high-cost urban area would rise from $136,749 to $153,843.

Second, the bill provides a technical correction to the FHA's adjustable-rate mortgage program that aims to make the product more available to consumers.

Big Tax Incentives to be had on Investment Properties

DAYS ON THE MARKET

More and more people are investing in real estate. Some go for income producing properties, others retirement homes. According to a study by the National Association of Realtors, between 1992 and 2002, annual sales of second homes grew by 36 percent. American Demographics magazine forecasts that the market will grow nearly 50 percent by 2010. More....

HIP VENICE SPANISH MODERN


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Question: I have owned my home for just over 2 years and have resided in it the whole time. If I choose to sell within the next 6 months to a year and not invest in real estate with my equity, will I be taxed on the capital gain?

-Marcella
Mar Vista

Answer: Under the current federal tax rules, if you sell a personal residence in which you have lived for two of the past five years, then as much as $250,000 in profit is tax exempt, $500,000 if married and filing jointly. You are not required to reinvest or rollover the money into another residence. For general information, see IRS Publications 521 and 523, "Moving Expenses" and "Selling Your Home." For details, including any state tax issues, speak with a CPA, enrolled agent or tax attorney.

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Question: How does a recent college grad get financing to purchase a home or townhouse. I have great credit, make $53K a year but live in a high-cost metro area.
I'm going to have to pay more than $350,000 for a house that I like. Everyone has been telling me there is no way for me to get approved for a loan until I have at least $40,000 in savings. I have no money saved up right now, but plan to have almost $10,000 saved up n a year. I would like to get a three-or-four-bedroom and rent the other rooms to college friends. Can I open my own company and get the loan as an investment?   
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U.S. population passes 290 Million
Mountain, Coastal States Fastest-Growing

The nation's population grew by 1 percent, or 2.8 million people, between July 1, 2002, and July 1, 2003, to 290.8 million, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Among the nation's 10 fastest-growing states were four in the Rocky Mountains: Nevada (ranking first for the 17th consecutive year with a growth rate of 3.4 percent); Arizona (second); Idaho (fifth); and Utah (eighth). The remaining top 10 states were all coastal: Florida (third); Texas (fourth); Georgia (sixth); Delaware (seventh); California (ninth); and Hawaii (10th).

California's population increased by 591,000 people last year and now totals nearly 36 million, according to a May 2003 report from the state Department of Finance.