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Important STAR Tax Information for New York Residents

New legislation requires all homeowners receiving Basic STAR Tax exemptions to register with the New York State Tax Department in order to receive the exemption in 2014 and subsequent years.  That’s right, just when you thought you’d done everything necessary to secure your STAR Tax savings on your primary home, New York State is requiring all homeowners filing for STAR Tax savings to register with the New York State Tax Department from 8/19/13 until 12/31/2013 in order to continue receiving the STAR Tax savings.  Property owners wishing to continue to receive school tax relief on their primary residence in New York State MUST file  by year’s end to continue receiving that relief.  Suffolk County residents can see their Suffolk County STAR Tax Savings here.

Basic STAR

  • available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the resident owners’ and their spouses income is less than $500,000
  • exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school taxes

Enhanced STAR

  • provides an increased benefit for the primary residences of senior citizens (age 65 and older) with qualifying incomes
  • exempts the first $63,300 of the full value of a home from school taxes as of 2013-14 school tax bills

Homeowners will not have to register in order to receive their 2013 STAR exemptions!    And once regestering, homeowners will not have to re-register every year to continue receiving their STAR Tax relief. Based on the information provided in the registration process, the Tax Department will monitor homeowners’ eligibility in future years.

How to register

You can register for the STAR exemption online. You’ll need to:

  • provide a STAR code (The Tax Department will be mailing codes to all Basic STAR recipients; or you can use the STAR code lookup)
  • provide the names and social security numbers for all owners of the property and spouses
  • confirm that the property is the primary residence of one of its owners (married couples with multiple residences may only claim one STAR exemption)
  • confirm that the combined income of the owners and their spouses who reside at the property does not exceed $500,000
  • confirm that no resident owner received a residency-based tax benefit from another state

I hope you find this information helpful.  If you have any real estate questions or concerns, simply drop me a note or call me…  You’ll be glad you did!


2007 Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act Extended

Well we averted a catastrophic event with Congress allowing for an extension of the 2007 Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act to January 1, 2014. Had this law NOT been extended, anyone forgiven debt from the “short sale” of their principal residence, from agreeing to a “deed in lieu of foreclosure,” or having their property foreclosed, would have had to pay federal income tax on the forgiven amount. Thankfully, that isn’t going to happen thanks to some NOT so swift action by Congress.
The New Law reads as follows:
(a) IN GENERAL.—Subparagraph (E) of section 108(a)(1) is amended by striking ‘‘January 1, 2013’’ and
inserting ‘‘January 1, 2014’’.

Mortgage Calculator

The entire ‘‘American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012’’
Download the entire ‘‘American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012’’







What’s QE3 Mean to Housing?

The following link to an article posted on Steve Harney’s Blog, “Keeping Current Matters” is probably the best explanation, thus far, on what the new QE3 Stimulus will mean to Housing.  I hope you enjoy it

UPDATE: Some of our readers wanted a clear definition of what QE3 actually is. The best explanation we have seen can be read here. The article was posted prior to the decision to move forward by Mr. Bernanke .

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke announced last week that the Fed would again be pumping money into mortgage-backed-securities as a way to stimulate the economy. The big question for us becomes what impact this will have on the housing market. There is absolutely no doubt that Bernanke had the housing industry in mind while making this decision. In his post meeting news conference Bernanke explained:

“I think that house prices are beginning to rise in some markets, which will encourage people to look at homes, will encourage lenders to make more mortgage loans. I am hoping we will continue to see progress in the housing market. That is one of the missing pistons in the engine here, housing is usually a big part of a recovery process. We haven’t had that nearly to the usual extent. And to the extent that we can support housing I think that would be a very useful outcome.”

How does keeping rates low help the market?

HSH Associates which reports on trends in the mortgage rate environment explains:

“Of all the Fed policies, driving down mortgage rates has arguably been the most successful. Low rates have fostered refinancing, putting money in homeowner pockets and helping to spur consumer spending. Those low rates have enhanced housing affordability, while the steadying aspect of the Fed’s presence in the market has allowed for more of those transactions to complete; in turn, this has helped to firm up home prices. The Fed is trying to cause at least some inflation, namely in asset prices — homes, stocks.”

But what impact will it actually have on home sales?

Keeping interest rates low will definitely help. However, we are not sure it will be a driving force in a housing recovery. Rates are already at historic lows and the challenge to many buyers is availability of mortgage money more than it is the cost of that money (rate). HSH Associates believes:

“Looking across the potential audiences who want to buy homes, can a claim be made that interest rates are an impediment? More likely, credit ruined in the downturn, a lack of income, unemployment or even asset strength are keeping people out of the market. In addition, there is arguably a cohort which cannot participate due to a foreclosure, short-sale or deed-in-lieu effected over the last few years, and there is likely still another group who will not buy a home at all, having watched family and friends suffer mightily with real estate issues and losses in the downturn. In this way, lower interest rates aren’t much of an inducement for a lot of folks, and except at the margins, the change merely enhances the opportunity for people already well-positioned and motivated to buy a home.”

Richard Green, director of the University of Southern California Lusk Center for Real Estate, echoed this sentiment in a recent MarketWatch article:

“While QE3 certainly won’t hurt the housing market, its short-term effect will likely be limited. The constraint that is keeping people out of the housing market is absence of equity. The drop in house prices means that many borrowers are underwater on their houses, and high unemployment has prevented potential first-time buyers from accumulating down payments.”

Keeping rates low can’t hurt the market and perhaps it will encourage some move-up buyers to make the move now. But few believe it will spur a dramatic increase in home sales.


The FED Has Initiated QE3 Stimulus, GREAT! But What’s That Mean For Most Of Us?

Ben Bernanke has made it official: QE3 Stimulus has now begun!  The FED will begin pumping $40B into the economy each month, as long as necessary by buying Mortgage Backed Securities.  And the FED begins buying Friday and expect to buy around $27B for the remainder of the month.

But wait a minute!  Hasn’t Fannie and Freddy, 2 Government agencies been buying up most MBS’s from the banks over the past few years?  And if the FED will now be buying MBS’s, doesn’t that put them in direct competition with both Fannie and Freddy?  And what good does it do to have these MBS’s bought by the FED if Fannie and Freddie were buying most of them anyway?  And to boot, how can the fed buy so much when the banks are not lending enough to warrant such buy backs?  I’m confused!

Representative Paul  Ryan, for one, doesn’t think this plan will work.  “Ryan said QE3 might help banks on Wall Street but will do little to help middle-class families.”  I tend to agree.  I’ve seen the stock market rally as everyone said it would, seen oil and gas prices spike and have noticed food prices are already inching up.

As the dust settles on this issue, I will write again trying to shed more light on this newly released government program.