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Charlotte Real Estate Blog - Buddy Frey

Buddy Frey


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#10 - Jackson stands alone

by Buddy Frey



Hats off to the L.A. Lakers... last night they defeated the Magic for their 15th franchise NBA Championship win. 

Laker coach Phil Jackson, who led the Chicago Bulls (yes, that's why I'm writing about this) to 6 Championships, now adds number 4 in L.A. for a total of 10.  #10 broke a tie with legendary Boston coach Red Auerbach as the winningest coach in NBA Finals history. 

Have a great week! 

It's A Good Life,

Now for your Morning Coffee!

What Is A Foreclosure Property?

by Buddy Frey

Last week i mentioned that I wanted to help others in the Charlotte area Find Foreclosures in Charlotte. Today, I wanted to start from scratch and see if I can understand all the basics that surround the foreclosure process.

What is a Foreclosure?

Foreclosure is the legal process in which a lender or mortgage company takes legal ownership of the property that was used to secure a loan. Foreclosure is usually the result of the property owner, or person who secured the loan, failing to make the mortgage payments. The lender will ultimately earn a Decree of Foreclosure, which is a court order that then gives the lender the right to sell the property, to repay the outstanding debt.

What Is a Pre-Foreclosure?

After a Homeowner defaults, or fails to make the payments on a their mortgage loan, the lender must file a NOD, or Notice of Default in the county where the property is located. In Charlotte, that would be Mecklenburg County. This is also published in local newspapers, announcing the auction of the property.

The period of time between the NOD being published and the actual auction date of the property, is known as the Pre Foreclosure period. Many prospective buyers will contact the lender directly during the NOD, and try to secure the property before it goes to auction.

How is Foreclosed Property Sold?

If the property goes to full foreclosure, it will be sold at a public auction, usually at the same courthouse where the NOD was filed. Like all auctions, the foreclosure auctions usually draw large groups of investors, who will competitively bid on the foreclosure property.

Finding Foreclosed Homes in Charlotte

by Buddy Frey

As a Realtor in Charlotte, I stay up to date on all the news and happenings in the Charlotte housing market! One of the latest trends in the area surrounds Charlotte foreclosed homes, and the large number of people looking for foreclosure information. Realtors have tools to see all new foreclosures, but what about people like yourself? How do you get your information?

Today, I thought I would head out into the web and see what type of info is available for everyone not in the industry.

Finding Charlotte Foreclosure Lists

One of the first things that jumped at me today, is that almost all of the top search results were commercial businesses, selling foreclosure lists! What happened to the Charlotte Realtors like myself? Why are we not being referred from search engines? After all, we are the local experts when it comes to real estate!

Looking around some of the websites in my network of local Realtors, I saw that many have great information about foreclosures in Charlotte, but none were in the search results.

Starting this week, I am going to help you understand foreclosures, Short Sales, REO's and all the ins and outs of the Charlotte Home Foreclosure market, from a realtors perspective!

Charlotte Foreclosure Lists to Your inbox!

If you want to follow along with all of us, go ahead and sign on to get Charlotte Foreclosure Lists by email. Make sure you put "Foreclosures" in the comment box! I am not going to spam you with email, promise! :-) The lists will however, help you understand the market a bit better and maybe get your feet wet in the Charlotte Foreclosure Homes Market.

What Say You? Do You Follow Foreclosures in Charlotte? Comments are welcomed and encouraged.

Have a Great Day,

Buddy Frey

FHA Loans - A new twist on an old condition

by Buddy Frey

As we move forward through all the new lending guidelines, restrictions and conditions, I see evidence regularly that the process of obtaining a home loan keeps getting harder and tighter. 

Evidence...just recently (on behalf of my buyer client) I was asked by a national MTG company to provide documentation of a clean pest inspection letter.  In the past, if a condition of the loan, this document was signed by buyer and produced at closing then sent with all other loan docs by the closing attorney.

And as in the past, underwriting set several conditions that must be met before final approval; adequate home appraisal, work and income verification, verification of assets and SS# etc.

But just recently, in order to approve an FHA loan, this "all clear" pest document must be signed buy both buyer and seller and inspector then, sent in to underwriting.  It is now another condition of "final approval" before the loan comes back out of underwriting and sent to closing attorney. 

Am I complaining...?  No, not really...just pointing out once again that the way we did business in the past is over.  In today's real estate/mortgage world there are more restrictions and tighter guidelines which,  has made it not only harder to obtain a home loan...but also harder to process.  Propper and timely sent documentation then dotting all the I's and crossing all the T's is critical to a seemles transaction.  We need to get used to it!  

If you are looking to buy a home and need the assistance of a professional real estate agent please let me know.  I personally serve the Charlotte Metro market but, also have a large network of experienced Realtors throughout the country that I can refer.  You may contact me directly at




Summer Pops 2009

by Buddy Frey



The Charlotte Symphony will perform free outdoor concerts this summer, 5 at South Park Mall and 6 additional concerts throughout the region.  The series kicked off last weekend downtown and, at Village Park in Kannapolis.  For more info go to  

It's A Good Life,

Rain Rain . . . Hey, It's Sunny!

by Buddy Frey

I thought it was April showers bring May flowers...not this year!  What a month.  So far here in the Charlotte area, Mother Nature has sent us 6.8 inches of rain.  A normal May month for us here in the Queen City is 3.3 inches.

May has been crazy wet.  Events like Quail Hollow, Coca-Cola 500, my Golf Game and others have been delayed, postponed and cancelled due to the over abundance of rain.  This month the precipitation has come in what I call the soothing mist form, the all day drizzle and like last night, the monsoon down know, the kind of storm when you're driving and can't see 50 yards in front of you!

Year to date, we are actually 1 inch above our 18.19 average yearly precip.  Most lakes around the here are getting close to "Full Pool".  And the air quality...Good to Excellent with little to no readings on the allergy index. 

All this rain has but ended last year's drought conditions and water restrictions.  My lawn has made an almost full recovery from last season...(thank goodness for all this rain 'cause I'm not the best lawn farmer in the world).  And across the Piedmont, green, green.  I can't remember when I've seen it so lush around here. 

So I say enjoy, enjoy all this rain!  Get out there and get wet and muddy.  Hey you know "Singing in the Rain" and "Rain Drops Keep Falling on My Head" (anyone else have others?) just enjoy.  A few sunny days though would be nice too  :-)




Home Prices Inch Up A Bit In March

by Buddy Frey

Considering our unemployment situation here in the Charlotte Region, it is surprising...pleasantly surprising, to see a modest gain in housing prices. 

Of late, the area's deep housing decline has shown signs of slowing.  And while overall sale's volume is still way off, we are actually seeing signs of the decrease slowing.  March's little price hike of 0.3% marks the first housing improvement in a while. 

Nationally though, prices are still down significantly compared to 2008.  "The S&P/Chase Shiller Home Price Index (Top 20 Markets) shows Charlotte remained in 5th place in March, one of a handful of urban areas with losses less than 10% (-9.3%)."  Denver was the best of the bunch at -5.5% from March of 2008 and Phoenix ranked last at -36.0%

Persaonally, I am very optimistic as I feel at least the pulse is back.  Most of Realtors I speak to echo the same thing that the phones are beginning to ring again and sales are picking up...big improvement over even 45 days ago.  Stay cautious though and price your home competitively...we're not out of the woods yet.

If you would like a comple list of the YTY top 20 markets, please shoot me an email and I will be happy to forward!


My Refi - What a Nightmare

by Buddy Frey

So back in January of this year my wife and I decided to try and refinance.  I had 2 MTG brokers watching rates and I was waiting for a 30 year, with zero points at 4.5%...mid month on a Friday morning I got a call from BB & T that the rate was there and did I want to lock.  Of course I said, LOCK IT...we were very excited!

Application made and fully documented, I checked in mid February to see how the loan was moving along.  I was told slowly but not to worry, they will get to it as soon as humanly possible and that they were just swamped and under manned.  OK

Now comes early March nearly 2 months later...I called to get an update.  I was told that the appraisal was finally ordered and that I would be contacted when that got back.  Appraisal comes back fine (better than expected) but now they tell me the guidelines have changed because I have a job related to the housing industry and they may not make the loan after all.  Loan officer tells me they want to see 2008 tax returns.  Not great since very few people I know in this industry actually made more in '08 than '07 

Scramble to get tax returns done and send those in.  Mid May now and I finally get an approval but now they won't allow an equity line behind it.'s the dilemma:  do I do the refi and basically lose the equity line or do I sit tight with the mortgage that I have and keep the equity line in tact (prime -1/2).  Really don't use it but these days who knows?  May come in handy...

It's been a long frustrating road for us.  I feel like been dragged through the mud and the muck.  It's clear for sure that BB & T was at fault for this whole mess.  In the end though, we went through with the refi because the smart move was obtain the lower mortgage rate and increase our payment contribution towards principle.

I write about this only because many of the stories you hear out there are real (and I could go on about my ordeal in more detail) but the point is, banks just are not lending like they used to.  New and mostly stricter guidelines is making it tough if not impossible for a lot of people.  I just hope things loosen up soon for every one's sake.



Housing: Most Affordable In Decades!

by Buddy Frey

U.S. home prices are their most affordable in at least 18 years, according to a report released Monday.

Nearly 73% of all homes sold in the United States during the first three months of 2009 were considered affordable. That was the highest percentage ever reported by the 18-year-old Housing Opportunity Index, an analysis of markets compiled quarterly by the National Association of Homebuilders and Wells Fargo Bank.

To be deemed affordable, a family making the median national income of $64,000 must be able to buy the property and devote no more than 28% of their income toward housing costs.

Plummeting home prices were primarily responsible for sending affordability soaring from just over 60% in last three months of 2008 to 72.5% in the first quarter of 2009. Sinking interest rates also contributed to affordability. A 30-year fixed mortgage averaged less than 5% during much of the quarter, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

"Underlying the increase in affordability are lower home prices and record low interest rates," NAHB Chairman Joe Robson said in a prepared statement. "Combined with the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers, consumers are beginning to return to the marketplace."

Most affordable city

For the 15th consecutive quarter, Indianapolis led the nation's large cities (population 500,000 and up) in home affordability. The Indiana capital tops the list due to very reasonable home prices and relatively high median income: Nearly 95% of all homes sold were affordable to those earning the metro area's median income of $68,100.

On the other end of the spectrum, only 21% of the homes sold in the New York/White Plains metro area were affordable to those earning the median income of $64,800. Even there, affordability jumped seven percentage points compared with the last three months of 2008.

Rust-belt cities dominated the most affordable list, with Youngstown Ohio; Akron, Ohio; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Syracuse, N.Y., all near the top. Joining New York at the bottom were: San Francisco; Los Angeles; Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y.; and Honolulu.

Several smaller cities were even more affordable than Indianapolis. In Sandusky, Ohio, about 98% of homes sold were affordable to those earning the local median income. Monroe, Mich., and the Ohio towns of Mansfield, Springfield and Canton all exceeded 95% affordability.

Less affordable small markets were led by Ocean City, N.J.; San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; and Hanford, Calif.

Markets still slow

Despite the record affordability, both existing and new home sales are still slow. New homes have been selling at an annualized rate of 350,000 for the past few months. Existing sales have been consistently running at an annualized pace of less than 5 million units - about two/thirds the boom-years rate.

And increased affordability is not enough to drive sales quickly upward, according to Ken Goldstein, an economist and real estate analyst for the Conference Board.

"What really hurts is that people are losing their jobs now," he said. "The unemployment rate is at 9% going to 10%. That means that 90% of people still have their jobs but everyone is looking over their shoulders wondering if they're next."

As a result, there's still a double-digit inventory of homes on the market. Plus, a large proportion of recent sales have been foreclosures, homes repossessed from defaulting borrowers and put back on the market, often at fire sale prices.

Still, homebuilders are taking some heart in the improved affordability stats and other data indicating that perhaps the worst is over. Pending home sales were up slightly last month, and new home sales have risen off their bottoms.

Those trends have buoyed industry confidence slightly. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, an indicator of builder sentiment that was also released Monday, inched up two points in May to 16 after jumping five points in April.  To top of page

1st Time Home Buyer Tax Credit - The Skinny!

by Buddy Frey

For those of you who are 1st time home buyers, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 authorizes a tax credit of up to $8,000 for qualified first-time home buyers purchasing a principal residence on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009.  The Charlotte NC real estate market has several opportunities right now and with interest rates still near the lows, there has never been a better time to buy a home.

The following questions and answers provide basic information about the tax credit. If you have more specific questions please contact me and I will try to answer them.  I would encourage you also to consult a qualified tax advisor to see how the credit would effect your personal situation.    

  1. Who is eligible to claim the tax credit?
    First-time home buyers purchasing any kind of home—new or resale—are eligible for the tax credit. To qualify for the tax credit, a home purchase must occur on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009. For the purposes of the tax credit, the purchase date is the date when closing occurs and the title to the property transfers to the home owner.
  2. What is the definition of a first-time home buyer?
    The law defines "first-time home buyer" as a buyer who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. For married taxpayers, the law tests the homeownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse.

    For example, if you have not owned a home in the past three years but your spouse has owned a principal residence, neither you nor your spouse qualifies for the first-time home buyer tax credit. However, unmarried joint purchasers may allocate the credit amount to any buyer who qualifies as a first-time buyer, such as may occur if a parent jointly purchases a home with a son or daughter. Ownership of a vacation home or rental property not used as a principal residence does not disqualify a buyer as a first-time home buyer.
  3. How is the amount of the tax credit determined?
    The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000.
  4. Are there any income limits for claiming the tax credit?
    Yes. The income limit for single taxpayers is $75,000; the limit is $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. The tax credit amount is reduced for buyers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of more than $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. The phaseout range for the tax credit program is equal to $20,000. That is, the tax credit amount is reduced to zero for taxpayers with MAGI of more than $95,000 (single) or $170,000 (married) and is reduced proportionally for taxpayers with MAGIs between these amounts.
  5. What is "modified adjusted gross income"?
    Modified adjusted gross income or MAGI is defined by the IRS. To find it, a taxpayer must first determine "adjusted gross income" or AGI. AGI is total income for a year minus certain deductions (known as "adjustments" or "above-the-line deductions"), but before itemized deductions from Schedule A or personal exemptions are subtracted. On Forms 1040 and 1040A, AGI is the last number on page 1 and first number on page 2 of the form. For Form 1040-EZ, AGI appears on line 4 (as of 2007). Note that AGI includes all forms of income including wages, salaries, interest income, dividends and capital gains.

    To determine modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), add to AGI certain amounts such as foreign income, foreign-housing deductions, student-loan deductions, IRA-contribution deductions and deductions for higher-education costs.
  6. If my modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is above the limit, do I qualify for any tax credit?
    Possibly. It depends on your income. Partial credits of less than $8,000 are available for some taxpayers whose MAGI exceeds the phaseout limits.
  7. Can you give me an example of how the partial tax credit is determined?
    Just as an example, assume that a married couple has a modified adjusted gross income of $160,000. The applicable phaseout to qualify for the tax credit is $150,000, and the couple is $10,000 over this amount. Dividing $10,000 by the phaseout range of $20,000 yields 0.5. When you subtract 0.5 from 1.0, the result is 0.5. To determine the amount of the partial first-time home buyer tax credit that is available to this couple, multiply $8,000 by 0.5. The result is $4,000.

    Here’s another example: assume that an individual home buyer has a modified adjusted gross income of $88,000. The buyer’s income exceeds $75,000 by $13,000. Dividing $13,000 by the phaseout range of $20,000 yields 0.65. When you subtract 0.65 from 1.0, the result is 0.35. Multiplying $8,000 by 0.35 shows that the buyer is eligible for a partial tax credit of $2,800.

    Please remember that these examples are intended to provide a general idea of how the tax credit might be applied in different circumstances. You should always consult your tax advisor for information relating to your specific circumstances.
  8. How is this home buyer tax credit different from the tax credit that Congress enacted in July of 2008?
    The most significant difference is that this tax credit does not have to be repaid. Because it had to be repaid, the previous "credit" was essentially an interest-free loan. This tax incentive is a true tax credit. However, home buyers must use the residence as a principal residence for at least three years or face recapture of the tax credit amount. Certain exceptions apply.
  9. How do I claim the tax credit? Do I need to complete a form or application?
    Participating in the tax credit program is easy. You claim the tax credit on your federal income tax return. Specifically, home buyers should complete IRS Form 5405 to determine their tax credit amount, and then claim this amount on Line 69 of their 1040 income tax return. No other applications or forms are required, and no pre-approval is necessary. However, you will want to be sure that you qualify for the credit under the income limits and first-time home buyer tests. Note that you cannot claim the credit on Form 5405 for an intended purchase for some future date; it must be a completed purchase.
  10. What types of homes will qualify for the tax credit?
    Any home that will be used as a principal residence will qualify for the credit. This includes single-family detached homes, attached homes like townhouses and condominiums, manufactured homes (also known as mobile homes) and houseboats. The definition of principal residence is identical to the one used to determine whether you may qualify for the $250,000 / $500,000 capital gain tax exclusion for principal residences.
  11. I read that the tax credit is "refundable." What does that mean?
    The fact that the credit is refundable means that the home buyer credit can be claimed even if the taxpayer has little or no federal income tax liability to offset. Typically this involves the government sending the taxpayer a check for a portion or even all of the amount of the refundable tax credit.

    For example, if a qualified home buyer expected, notwithstanding the tax credit, federal income tax liability of $5,000 and had tax withholding of $4,000 for the year, then without the tax credit the taxpayer would owe the IRS $1,000 on April 15th. Suppose now that the taxpayer qualified for the $8,000 home buyer tax credit. As a result, the taxpayer would receive a check for $7,000 ($8,000 minus the $1,000 owed).
  12. I purchased a home in early 2009 and have already filed to receive the $7,500 tax credit on my 2008 tax returns. How can I claim the new $8,000 tax credit instead?
    Home buyers in this situation may file an amended 2008 tax return with a 1040X form. You should consult with a tax advisor to ensure you file this return properly.
  13. Instead of buying a new home from a home builder, I hired a contractor to construct a home on a lot that I already own. Do I still qualify for the tax credit?
    Yes. For the purposes of the home buyer tax credit, a principal residence that is constructed by the home owner is treated by the tax code as having been "purchased" on the date the owner first occupies the house. In this situation, the date of first occupancy must be on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009.

    In contrast, for newly-constructed homes bought from a home builder, eligibility for the tax credit is determined by the settlement date.
  14. Can I claim the tax credit if I finance the purchase of my home under a mortgage revenue bond (MRB) program?
    Yes. The tax credit can be combined with the MRB home buyer program. Note that first-time home buyers who purchased a home in 2008 may not claim the tax credit if they are participating in an MRB program.
  15. I live in the District of Columbia. Can I claim both the Washington, D.C. first-time home buyer credit and this new credit?
    No. You can claim only one.
  16. I am not a U.S. citizen. Can I claim the tax credit?
    Maybe. Anyone who is not a nonresident alien (as defined by the IRS), who has not owned a principal residence in the previous three years and who meets the income limits test may claim the tax credit for a qualified home purchase. The IRS provides a definition of "nonresident alien" in IRS Publication 519.
  17. Is a tax credit the same as a tax deduction?
    No. A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in what the taxpayer owes. That means that a taxpayer who owes $8,000 in income taxes and who receives an $8,000 tax credit would owe nothing to the IRS.

    A tax deduction is subtracted from the amount of income that is taxed. Using the same example, assume the taxpayer is in the 15 percent tax bracket and owes $8,000 in income taxes. If the taxpayer receives an $8,000 deduction, the taxpayer’s tax liability would be reduced by $1,200 (15 percent of $8,000), or lowered from $8,000 to $6,800.
  18. I bought a home in 2008. Do I qualify for this credit?
    No, but if you purchased your first home between April 9, 2008 and January 1, 2009, you may qualify for a different tax credit.
  19. Is there any way for a home buyer to access the money allocable to the credit sooner than waiting to file their 2009 tax return?
    Yes. Prospective home buyers who believe they qualify for the tax credit are permitted to reduce their income tax withholding. Reducing tax withholding (up to the amount of the credit) will enable the buyer to accumulate cash by raising his/her take home pay. This money can then be applied to the downpayment.

    Buyers should adjust their withholding amount on their W-4 via their employer or through their quarterly estimated tax payment. IRS Publication 919 contains rules and guidelines for income tax withholding. Prospective home buyers should note that if income tax withholding is reduced and the tax credit qualified purchase does not occur, then the individual would be liable for repayment to the IRS of income tax and possible interest charges and penalties.

    Further, rule changes made as part of the economic stimulus legislation allow home buyers to claim the tax credit and participate in a program financed by tax-exempt bonds. Some state housing finance agencies, such as the Missouri Housing Development Commission, have introduced programs that provide short-term credit acceleration loans that may be used to fund a downpayment. Prospective home buyers should inquire with their state housing finance agency to determine the availability of such a program in their community.

    The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) has compiled list of such programs, which can be found here.
  20. If I’m qualified for the tax credit and buy a home in 2009, can I apply the tax credit against my 2008 tax return?
    Yes. The law allows taxpayers to choose ("elect") to treat qualified home purchases in 2009 as if the purchase occurred on December 31, 2008. This means that the 2008 income limit (MAGI) applies and the election accelerates when the credit can be claimed (tax filing for 2008 returns instead of for 2009 returns). A benefit of this election is that a home buyer in 2009 will know their 2008 MAGI with certainty, thereby helping the buyer know whether the income limit will reduce their credit amount.

    Taxpayers buying a home who wish to claim it on their 2008 tax return, but who have already submitted their 2008 return to the IRS, may file an amended 2008 return claiming the tax credit. You should consult with a tax professional to determine how to arrange this.
  21. For a home purchase in 2009, can I choose whether to treat the purchase as occurring in 2008 or 2009, depending on in which year my credit amount is the largest?
    Yes. If the applicable income phaseout would reduce your home buyer tax credit amount in 2009 and a larger credit would be available using the 2008 MAGI amounts, then you can choose the year that yields the largest credit amount.



Displaying blog entries 51-60 of 70

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