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Ken Shuman’s Blog

By Ken Shuman | Home Owner in San Francisco, CA
  • State of the Union: Will President Obama address housing?

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Home Selling, Foreclosure  |  January 25, 2011 9:41 AM  |  2,319 views  |  No comments
    Last year at the State of the Union, President Obama did a good job of NOT addressing housing.  He focused on health care and jobs.  I am wondering if he will address it tonight. 

    Will he talk about his plans for loan modifications?
    Will he address the robo-signing scandal issue? 
    Will he even say the "F" word, foreclosures?

    What would you like to hear from President Obama tonight?  What are your expectations for his speech?
  • My theme for 2011 is "PATIENCE"

    Posted Under: For Rent in Oakland, Moving in Oakland, Rentals in Oakland  |  December 27, 2010 9:08 AM  |  2,467 views  |  4 comments
    I don't make resolutions but I do pick a theme for each year.  My theme for 2011 will be patience.  Why?  Well, 2011 is going to be a big year for me.  I will become a dad for the first time, I am hoping to grow my department at work and I need to focus on weight loss by eating right and working out consistently.  To be successful in all these areas of my life, I will need more patience.

    I am also planning on moving at sometime during 2011.  I currently live in a loft and that is not very conducive to raising a child.  When the baby is born we won't have the traditional baby's room and I know my wife would like to have a room for our little guy.  We both know this will not happen by the time he is born but I imagine we will make a move by the end of 2011.  Finding a new place to live and then having to pack up our current place while we are first time parents will take lots of patience.

    I find setting a theme for the year is much better than making resolutions.  Once a resolution is broken, it is easy to say you failed and not get back on track.  By setting a theme for 2011, I may lose focus for a little while but I can always get back on track.  Hmmmm, maybe my theme should focus.  Nah, patience is what I am going to need most to be successful in 2011!

    I'd love to hear others themes for 2011 and why you picked them.  Please feel free to share and good luck in the year ahead.
  • What do Carl Lewis, Perry Farrell, Judd Apatow & Scott Baio have in common?

    Posted Under: Home Selling  |  April 14, 2010 5:17 PM  |  2,164 views  |  1 comment
    They all live in So. Cal and they are all selling their homes.  If budget was not an issue, which home would you choose?

    Carl Lewis

    Perry Farrell

    Judd Apatow:

    Scott Baio

    Personally, I would love the Perry Farrell home.  I like the Venice location, the size of the home is manageable and the architecture is my style.  Plus who wouldn't want to live like a rockstar!!
  • A series of bad news for housing....

    Posted Under: Market Conditions  |  March 3, 2010 10:04 AM  |  2,202 views  |  No comments
    Last week NAR announced sales of Existing Single Family homes dropped 6.93% month-over-month.  It’s important when reflecting on the sales results to consider that over 69% of all sales were for properties priced below $250,000 while just over 7% were priced at or above $500,000.Here is a great chart that tracks progress since 2005.

    New homes sales have been sluggish as well.  The Commerce Department said last  Wednesday sales of newly built single-family homes dropped 11.2 percent to an annual rate of 309,000 units, the lowest level since records started in 1963, from 348,000 units in December.

    Lastly, overall inventory levels are starting to creep up again.  This is good news for buyers but a bad signal for the market.

    So what does all this bad news signal?  Does this mean that we are running out of buyers to pull forward who want to take advantage of the tax credit?  What does it mean for the spring/summer selling season as we move towards what is traditionally the peak selling months?
  • Selling at a loss in SF

    Posted Under: Home Selling in San Francisco  |  February 23, 2010 12:45 PM  |  2,378 views  |  1 comment
    In the beginning of the year I was thinking about selling my loft and after a few agents walked through and priced my loft, I decided to wait another 3 to 5 years. Why did I decided to wait?  The agents told me my loft has dropped in price by 10% since I purchased in August of 2007. I also hear that SF and the Bay Area will be one of the few markets that can expect a turn around in the near future.

    Thinking about all these factors, I wonder what is the motivation for these poor folks to list their condos for a loss.  Are the being transfered to another location?  Did they out grow their space?  Have they given up hope of a market turnaround?


    Sold 02/16/2005 for $889,000

    Listed for $649,000



    Sold 09/13/2006 for $722,500

    Listed for $549,000



    Sold 04/23/2004 for $630,000

    Listed for $599,000



    Sold 04/24/2006 for $756,000

    Listed for $728,000



    Sold 11/29/2007 for $1,520,000

    Listed for $1,479,000

  • Jobs key to housing recovery....

    Posted Under: Market Conditions  |  February 23, 2010 7:38 AM  |  2,246 views  |  No comments
    Last month, Trulia conducted a survey on how President Obama did in his first year in office in terms of turning around the housing crisis he faced.  Democrats and Republicans agree on the areas President Obama needs to focus on in 2010 to stabilize the U.S. real estate market. Creating jobs and job security continues to be at the top of the list with 62 percent of adults referencing it as a key priority for the President. With foreclosures reaching record levels in 2009 and expected to grow even more this year, it’s not surprising that 45 percent of adults included this as an important area of focus. Rounding out the top three priorities for President Obama is bringing/keeping low interest rates at 39 percent. Only 27 percent of Americans surveyed believe extending the home buying tax credit through the end of 2010 should be a key initiative to help stabilize the housing market.

    Yesterday, I saw this graphic and it gave me a little bit of hope that we are back on the right path towards recovery.

  • Tax Credit Overview - key facts, deadlines, insight...

    Posted Under: Home Buying  |  February 22, 2010 10:04 AM  |  2,253 views  |  No comments
    This weekend I filed my taxes and while I was not a first time homebuyer, I did stumble upon this useful breakdown of the Tax Credit program for housing. Trulia's consumer newsletter also focused on this topic last week. 


    Who Gets What?

    First-Time Homebuyers (FTHBs): First-time homebuyers (that is, people who have not owned a home within the last three years) may be eligible for the tax credit. The credit for FTHBs is 10% of the purchase price of the home, with a maximum available credit of $8,000

    Single taxpayers and married couples filing a joint return may qualify for the full tax credit amount.                          

    Current Owners: The tax credit program now gives those who already own a residence some additional reasons to move to a new home. This incentive comes in the form of a tax credit of up to $6,500 for qualified purchasers who have owned and occupied a primary residence for a period of five consecutive years during the last eight years.

    Single taxpayers and married couples filing a joint return may qualify for the full tax credit amount.

    What are the New Deadlines?

    In order to qualify for the credit, all contracts need to be in effect no later than April 30, 2010 and close no later than June 30, 2010.

    What are the Income Caps?

    The amount of income someone can earn and qualify for the full amount of the credit has been increased.

    Single tax filers who earn up to $125,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, single filers who earn $145,000 and above are ineligible

    Joint filers who earn up to $225,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, joint filers who earn $245,000 and above are ineligible.

    What is the Maximum Purchase Price?

    Qualifying buyers may purchase a property with a maximum sale price of $800,000.
    What is a Tax Credit?

    A tax credit is a direct reduction in tax liability owed by an individual to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In the event no taxes are owed, the IRS will issue a check for the amount of the tax credit an individual is owed. Unlike the tax credit that existed in 2008, this credit does not require repayment unless the home, at any time in the first 36 months of ownership, is no longer an individual’s primary residence.

    How Much are First-Time Homebuyers (FTHB) Eligible to Receive?

    An eligible homebuyer may request from the IRS a tax credit of up to $8,000 or 10% of the purchase price for a home. If the amount of the home purchased is $75,000, the maximum amount the credit can be is $7,500. If the amount of the home purchased is $100,000, the amount of the credit may not exceed $8,000.

    Who is Eligible fort FTHB Tax Credit?

    Anyone who has not owned a primary residence in the previous 36 months, prior to closing and the transfer of title, is eligible.

    This applies both to single taxpayers and married couples. In the case where there is a married couple, if either spouse has owned a primary residence in the last 36 months, neither would qualify. In the case where an individual has owned property that has not been a primary residence, such as a second home or investment property, that individual would be eligible.

    As mentioned above, the tax credit has been expanded so that existing homeowners who have owned and occupied a primary residence for a period of five consecutive years during the last eight years are now eligible for a tax credit of up to $6,500.

    How Much are Current Home Owners Eligible to Receive?

    The tax credit program includes a tax credit of up to $6,500 for qualified purchasers who have owned and occupied a primary residence for a period of five consecutive years during the last eight years.

    Can Homebuyers Claim the Tax Credit in Advance of Purchasing a Property?

    No. The IRS has recently begun prosecuting people who have claimed credits where a purchase had not taken place.

    Can a Taxpayer Claim a Credit if the Property is Purchased from a Seller with Seller Financing and the Seller Retains Title to the Property?

    Yes. In situations where the buyer purchases the property, even though the seller retains legal title, the taxpayer may file for the credit. Some examples of this would include a land contract or a contract for deed.

    According to the IRS, factors that would demonstrate the ownership of the property would include:

    1. Right of possession,
    2. Right to obtain legal title upon full payment of the purchase price,
    3. Right to construct improvements,
    4. Obligation to pay property taxes,
    5. Risk of loss,
    6. Responsibility to insure the property, and
    7. Duty to maintain the property.

    Are There Other Restrictions to Taking the FTHB Credit?

    Yes. According to the IRS, if any of the following describe a homebuyer’s situation, a credit would not be due:

    • They buy the home from a close relative. This includes a spouse, parent, grandparent, child or grandchild. (Please see the question below for details regarding purchases from “step-relatives.”)
    • They do not use the home as your principal residence.
    • They sell their home before the end of the year.
    • They are a nonresident alien.
    • They are, or were, eligible to claim the District of Columbia first-time homebuyer credit for any taxable year. (This does not apply for a home purchased in 2009.)
    • Their home financing comes from tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds. (This does not apply for a home purchased in 2009.)
    • They owned a principal residence at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase of your new home. For example, if you bought a home on July 1, 2008, you cannot take the credit for that home if you owned, or had an ownership interest in, another principal residence at any time from July 2, 2005, through July 1, 2008.


    Can Homebuyers Purchase a Home from a Step-Relative and Still be Eligible for the Credit?

    Yes. As long as the person they buy the home from is not a direct blood relative, the purchase would be allowed.

    If a Parent (Who Will Not Live In The Property) Cosigns for a Mortgage, Will Their Child Still be Eligible for the Credit?

    Yes, provided that the child meets the other requirements for the tax credit.

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