Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Loteria de Visas 2011

Lotería de Visas 2011


Sorteo arranca el próximo 2 de octubre

Las solicitudes al sorteo se envían por internet. El gobierno estadounidense reiteró que el concurso es totalmente gratis.

El Departamento de Estado anunció el jueves la apertura del sorteo de la Lotería de Visas 2011. En un comunicado, la cancillería estadounidense detalló que la apertura de la ventana para la recepción de solicitudes vía internet inicia el mediodía del 2 de octubre y cierra el mediodía del 30 de noviembre.

Se estima que este año participarán entre 8 y 11 millones de concursantes que se disputarán las 55 mil residencias (green card o tarjetas verdes) que cada año se entregan por mandato del Congreso a extranjeros provenientes de países de baja admisión o bajo nivel de inmigración a Estados Unidos.

Fechas del sorteo

El gobierno estadounidense advirtió que para el sorteo 2011 regirán casi las mismas reglas que prevalecieron en el sorteo anterior.

Brasil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Perú, México, Perú y República Dominicana no podrán concursar porque integran la lista de alta adminisión, de acuerdo con datos de la Oficina de Ciudadanía y Servicios de Inmigraciòn (USCIS).
De las 55 mil residencias en juego, 5 mil son apartadas cada año para inmigrantes amparados bajo la Ley de Ayuda a Nicaragua y Centroamérica (NACARA), aprobada por el Congreso en noviembre de 1997.
Quiénes si, quiénes no
El programa, que se conoce formalmente como Lotería de Visas de Diversidad (Diversity Visa, DV), ofrece gratis residencias permanentes a ciudadanos de países que tradicionalmente tienen un "bajo nivel de inmigración a Estados Unidos", explicó el Departamento de Estado (DOS).
Como naciones de 'bajo nivel de inmigración' el gobierno de Washington considera a aquellos países que han recibido, en los cinco años previos al concurso, menos de 50 mil visas de inmigrante.
Por este motivo, en el sorteo 2011 Brasil, Canadá, China, Colombia, Corea del Sur, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haití, India, Jamaica, México, Pakistán Filipinas, Perú, Polonia, Republica Dominicana, Reino Unido (excepto Irlanda del Norte) y Vietman no pueden participar.
Todos los demás países fueron habilitados para participar en el sorteo.



Credits to: Univision Website (Spanish Broadcast)

Requesting Advance Parole before Traveling

USCIS Reminds Applicants for Adjustment of Status, Asylum, Legalization, and TPS Beneficiaries to Obtain Advance Parole Before Traveling Abroad


WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminds individuals that they must obtain Advance Parole from USCIS before traveling abroad if they have:

• been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS);

• a pending application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident;

• a pending application for relief under section 203 of the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA 203);

• a pending asylum application; or

• a pending application for legalization.

To obtain Advance Parole, individuals must file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, which is available in the Related Links section of this page.

Advance Parole is permission to reenter the United States after traveling abroad. Advance Parole is an extraordinary measure used sparingly to allow an otherwise inadmissible individual to enter the United States due to compelling circumstances. By law, certain individuals must apply for a travel document and have Advance Parole approved before leaving the United States. Attempts to reenter the United States without prior authorization may have severe consequences since individuals requiring advance parole may be unable to return to the United States and their pending applications may be denied or administratively closed.

Applicants planning travel abroad should plan ahead since applicants can anticipate processing times of about 90 days, depending on the USCIS office location. Instructions for filing Form I-131 provide details on where to mail travel document applications and should be followed carefully to avoid delay. For more information on Advance Parole see How Do I Get a Travel Document? (also in the Related Links) and instructions for Form I-131.

Note:

Under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, aliens who depart the United States after being unlawfully present in the United States for certain periods can be barred from admission to lawful permanent resident status, even if they have obtained Advance Parole. Aliens who have been unlawfully present in the United States for more than 180 days, but less than one year, are inadmissible for three years; those who have been unlawfully present for one year or more are inadmissible for 10 years. Aliens who are unlawfully present, then depart the United States and subsequently reenter under a grant of parole, may still be ineligible to adjust their status.

Individuals who have been admitted as refugees or granted asylum, including those who are applying for adjustment of status, do not need to obtain Advance Parole. Instead, these individuals should apply for a Refugee Travel Document using Form I-131 and comply with applicable application requirements, such as biometric processing, prior to leaving the United States.

Lawful permanent residents who obtained such status as a result of being a refugee or asylee in the United States may also apply for a Refugee Travel Document. For more information on Refugee Travel Documents please see How Do I Get a Refugee Travel Document?

Asylum applicants, asylees and lawful permanent residents who obtained such status based on their asylum status are subject to special rules with regard to traveling outside the United States. Such individuals are encouraged to review USCIS’ Fact Sheet Traveling Outside the United States as an Asylum Applicant, an Asylee, or a Lawful Permanent Resident Who Obtained Such Status Based on Asylum Status.

Before making any plans to travel abroad, all individuals with pending applications for adjustment of status, relief under NACARA 203, or asylum are urged to consult an immigration attorney or immigration assistance organization accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals, or by calling USCIS’ Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.
Taken from http://www.uscis.gov website

This is only posted for informational purposes, if you need help with your legal status, please seek the advice of an attorney.

U.S. Citizens and Surviving Spouses

USCIS Update: USCIS Issues Guidance for Surviving Spouses of U.S. Citizens
Deferred Action Authorized for Certain Spouses and Children

 
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today issued guidance on requesting deferred action for surviving spouses of U.S. citizens who died before the second anniversary of their marriage. Surviving spouses qualify for this temporary program if they were married to, but not legally separated from, their U.S. citizen spouse at the time of that spouse's death; did not remarry; and are currently residing in the United States.

Surviving spouses qualify for deferred action regardless of whether the U.S. citizen spouse filed a Form I-130 petition for them. Surviving spouses may ask to have their qualifying children included in their deferred action request. To be considered a "qualifying child" of a surviving spouse, the child must be younger than age 21 or otherwise qualify as a child when the deferred action request is submitted; currently reside in the United States; and be unmarried.

USCIS has revised the instructions to the Forms I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and I-131, Application for Travel Document, as they relate to this temporary new program.

Surviving spouses who apply for deferred action will need to file Form I-360 with supporting documentation and the $375 filing fee with the Vermont Service Center.

Work authorization will be available to surviving spouses and qualifying children who are granted deferred action and who can establish economic necessity. Form I-765 is used for this purpose (separate applications are required for each person seeking work authorization).

Travel authorization will also be available to surviving spouses and qualified children granted deferred action under this program.

USCIS has posted on the Web, an accompanying list of questions and answers and a fact sheet about this program. For additional information about this and other immigration services, please call the National Customer Service Center at (800) 375-5283, or visit our homepage.



For more information, please visit www.uscis.gov

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First Home Buyers Tax Credit

First-Time Homebuyer Credit Questions and Answers: Homes Purchased in 2009
Q. Is the IRS currently accepting e-filed returns that claim the new $8,000 homebuyer credit in/for the 2008 tax year?

A. Yes. Taxpayers can file Form 5405, First Time Homebuyer Credit, electronically for home purchases in 2008 to claim the first-time homebuyer credit. IRS began processing these returns electronically on March 30, 2009.

Q. I plan to build a home and occupy it in 2009. Can I claim the first-time homebuyer credit now and use the funds toward the down payment or other ongoing construction costs?

A. No. To qualify for the first time home buyer credit, the residence must be purchased. By statute, a residence which is constructed by the taxpayer is treated as purchased on the date the taxpayer first occupies the residence. (05/06/09)

Q. I bought my home in 2009 (early) and filed my 2008 tax return claiming the $7,500 first-time homebuyer credit that has to be repaid. Now the expanded law provides for an $8,000 credit that doesn’t have to be repaid. What do I need to do to get the $8,000 credit that doesn’t have to be paid back?

A. You can file an amended return.

Q. If I purchase a home in June 2009, and have already filed my 2008 tax return, can I amend my 2008 return or will I have to claim it on my 2009 return?

A. You can either file an amended return to claim it on your 2008 return or claim it on your 2009 return.

Q. I am in the process of buying a home. I expect to close the deal before December 1, 2009. Can I claim the first-time homebuyer credit now? That would allow me to use the refund for a down payment.

A. No. You may not claim the credit in anticipation of a purchase that has yet to happen. Until you have finalized the purchase of your home, which for most purchasers occurs at the time of the closing, you do not qualify for the credit. IRS news release 2009-27, First-Time Homebuyers Have Several Options to Maximize New Tax Credit, contains details for filing options if the home is purchased after April 15, 2009.

Q: When must I pay back the credit for the home I purchased in 2009?

A: Generally, there is no requirement to pay back the credit for a principal residence purchased in 2009. The obligation to repay the credit on a home purchased in 2009 arises only if the home ceases to be your principal residence within 36 months from the date of purchase. The full amount of the credit received becomes due on the return for the year the home ceased being your principal residence.

Q. Suppose a member of the military who purchased a home and qualified for the credit receives orders to deploy overseas for possibly 18 months. If they sell the home within 3 years from the date of purchase, do they have to pay back the credit?

A. Section 36 does not provide any recapture exceptions for military personnel who are deployed and sell their home within 36 months from the purchase date. If the taxpayer does not sell the residence, then the military deployment may be considered a "temporary absence" and the home may still be the taxpayer's principal residence if the taxpayer intends to return to the residence after the deployment.

Q. If I claim the first-time homebuyer credit for a purchase in 2009 and stop using the property as my principal residence before the 36 month period expires after I purchase, how is the credit repaid and how long would I have to repay it?

A. If, within 36 months of the date of purchase, the property is no longer used as your principal residence, you are required to repay the credit. Repayment of the full amount of the credit is due at that time the income tax return for the year the home ceased to be your principal residence is due. The full amount of the credit is reflected as additional tax on that year's tax return. Form 5405 and its instructions will be revised for tax year 2009 to include information about repayment of the credit.

Related Items:

• First-Time Homebuyer Credit Questions and Answers: Basic Information

• First-Time Homebuyer Credit Questions and Answers: Homes Purchased in 2008

• First-Time Homebuyer Credit: Scenarios

• First-Time Homebuyer Credit


Page Last Reviewed or Updated: September 10, 2009
Credits to: IRS Web site at www.irs.gov

Tax Preparer New Rules

Updated Rules for Tax Preparers (Updated 12/18/2008)

Taken from : IRS Website

New regulations under Internal Revenue Code Section 7216, Disclosure or Use of Tax Information by Preparers of Returns, become effective January 1, 2009. The new regulations update regulations that have been substantially unchanged since the 1970s, and give taxpayers greater control over their personal tax return information. The statute limits tax return preparers’ use and disclosure of information obtained during the return preparation process to activities directly related to the preparation of the return. The regulations describe how preparers, with the informed written consent of taxpayers, may use or disclose return information for other purposes. The regulations also describe specific and limited exceptions that allow a preparer to use or disclose return information without the consent of taxpayers.

Revenue Procedure 2008-35 supplements the regulations, in particular Treas. Reg. Section 301.7216-3, and provides specific form and content guidance to tax return preparers for obtaining consents to disclose and consents to use taxpayer data in both the paper and electronic environments. Generally, tax preparers must obtain the signed consent of the taxpayer on paper or electronically before they can disclose taxpayer return information to anyone or use it for any purpose other than in the context of preparing and filing the return. Separate consents are required for disclosure(s) and use(s). Consents must:

• Identify the intended purpose of the disclosure or use;

• Identify the recipient(s) and describe the particular authorized information to be disclosed or used;

• Include the name of the tax return preparer and the name of the taxpayer;

• Include the applicable mandatory language set forth in section 4.04(a)-(c) of Revenue Procedure 2008-35 that informs the taxpayer that he is not required to sign the consent and if he signs the consent, he can set a time period for the duration of that consent;

• Include the mandatory language set forth in section 4.04(d) of Revenue Procedure 2008-35 that refers the taxpayer to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration if he believes that his tax return information has been disclosed or used improperly.

• Where applicable, include the appropriate mandatory statement set forth in section 4.04(e) of Revenue Procedure 2008-35 that informs the taxpayer that his tax return information may be disclosed to a tax return preparer located outside the U.S;

• Be in 12-point type on 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper. Electronic consents must be in the same type as the web site’s standard text; and

• Contain the taxpayer’s affirmative consent (as opposed to an “opt-out” clause); and

• Be signed and dated by the taxpayer.

The updated regulations apply to paid preparers, software developers, Electronic Return Originators, and other persons or entities engaged in tax return preparation services or services that are auxiliary to return preparation. They also apply to most volunteer tax preparers, for example Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) volunteers and employees and contractors employed by tax preparation companies in a support role.

Violations could result in imprisonment for up to one year, a fine of not more than $1,000, or both, for each violation.
For more information visit: www.irs.gov

Building a better relationship with your Mother

Book Title: The Mom Factor
By: Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

 
Our relationship with our mother affects our ability to trust and to love and receive love. The way that we experience security, freedom, healthy self esteem, and connection with God is strongly influenced by the kind of mothering we received.

We need honest friends who will confront us when we are not seeing reality

Our Response to Mothering:

If you had difficulties mothering, you may have built up defenses such as withdrawal, angry control, and compliance to resist the mothering process n general. Then, when mothering is available, you fail to respond. If you are serious about responding to mothering available to you, following are the tasks you will need to accomplish.

1) The first task is to come out of the world of your own head and experience. You must make contact with the outside world. Here is how you do this:

a) A support group

b) A professional therapy group

c) Individual counseling

d) A regular meeting with a wise and understanding friend or two

e) A Bible study where you can process your feelings and experiences

f) An open, relational church that encourages personal growth

2) It is not enough to be there. You need to talk, to open up, to share, and to allow others into the immediate experience of your overwhelming emotional states.

3) As you open up, you also need to respond to the care you receive. Take in the soothing, empathy, validation, thinking, and the other available jewels. Stop resisting love and grace when they show up.

4) You might find it helpful to keep track of your involuntary negative thoughts during the week and then challenge them.

5) Specific plans and accomplishable goals help structure a personality.

6) Loving others and helping them with their overwhelming experiences helps us as well.

Forgiveness: Means to “cancel a debt.” This is what it means to forgive mother. We have to come to a place of making peace with her- a place where she no longer “owes” us. Hating someone for what he/she did or did not do in the past keeps the injury very much alive in the present. Let mother of the hook, even if she does “deserve it.” Let your mother off the hook so that you and she will be free for something better.

The essence of an adult relationship with a fragile mom is this: if she cannot contain feelings, then relate to her in a way that she can handle. Take your need to be soothed and validated somewhere else. Do not continue wanting what she can’t give. Relate to her in the ways that she can relate. Here are some suggestions:

a) Talk about the issue, for example, “I just want to let you know how I am doing from time to time.”

b) Set limits on your wishes to be understood by her. If she becomes critical, then just say, Would you like to talk about something else”

c) Appreciate her for who she is not for who you want her to be

d) Love her in your best way; she still has needs of her own. She yearns to be liked and valued. Find ways to love her. Do the kinds of things that show her you value her. In doing this, you will gain as much relationship as possible, you will ease her pain, and you will decrease the power that she holds over you.

The Home Valuation Code of Conduct

Background

The Home Valuation Code of Conduct (the Code) is the result of a joint agreement made in March 2008 between Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), and the New York State Attorney General to enhance the independence and accuracy of the appraisal process.

As part of this agreement, we held an open comment period from March 14 through April 30, 2008, to solicit comments on the Code from Sellers and other industry participants regarding operational challenges, clarification of terms, and unintended consequences of the Code. All feedback was provided to FHFA and the New York State Attorney General and was used to develop the revised Code.

The revised Code has been added to the Guide as Exhibit 31, Home Valuation Code of Conduct. The revised Code provides enhanced protections for homebuyers, mortgage investors, and the housing market.

Effective Dates

Effective May 1, 2009, Freddie Mac will no longer purchase mortgages from Sellers that do not adopt the Code with respect to single-family mortgages delivered to Freddie Mac.

Also, effective for single-family mortgages with loan application dates on or after May 1, 2009, Freddie Mac Seller/Servicers must represent and warrant that the appraisal reports are obtained in a manner consistent with the Code.
The sale of the following mortgages is exempt from the Code: FHA/VA, Section 184 Native American, and Section 502 Guaranteed Rural Housing.

Lender Requirements

The revised Code:

Prohibits lenders and third parties from influencing or attempting to influence the development, result, or review of an appraisal report.

Requires lenders to ensure that borrowers are provided a copy of the appraisal report no less than three business days prior to closing, unless the borrower waives the requirement. The lender may require the borrower to reimburse it for the cost of the appraisal, but the lender must provide a copy of the appraisal report to the borrower at no additional cost.

Requires any third party specifically authorized to perform certain actions on behalf of the Seller to be in compliance with the Code.

Requires lenders or third parties authorized by lenders to be responsible for selecting, retaining, and providing for payment of all compensation to appraisers. The Code does not allow any other third parties to perform these activities.

A lender, in connection with the loan being originated, may accept an appraisal report prepared by an appraiser for a different lender provided that the lender obtains written assurances from the other lender that it has adopted the Code and determines that such appraisal conforms to appraisal requirements and is otherwise acceptable.
Requires absolute independence within a lender’s organization between the appraisal function and loan production and limits communication with the appraiser.

A lender’s loan production staff is prohibited from being involved in the selection of the appraiser, or having any substantive communications with an appraiser or appraisal management company about valuation.

The loan production staff consists of those responsible for generating loan volume or approving loans, as well as their subordinates. This includes an employee whose compensation is based on loan volume or the closing of a loan transaction. Employees responsible for the credit administration function or credit risk management are not considered loan production staff.

• The lender’s use of an appraisal report prepared by an in-house appraiser or an affiliate in underwriting a loan must meet certain conditions including:

The appraiser, or the company for which the appraiser works, reports to a function of the lender independent of sales or loan production, and sales and loan production staff have no involvement in the operation of appraisal functions or selection of the appraiser.

Sales and loan production staff are not allowed to have substantive communications with in-house appraisers relating to or having an impact on valuation and do not provide the appraiser any estimated or target value of the property or loan amount (except a copy of the purchase contract may be provided.)

The appraiser’s compensation does not depend on the final estimate of value or the closing of the loan.

• The lender has written policies and procedures implementing the Code and has mechanisms to report and discipline any violators.

• The lender’s appraisal functions are either annually audited by an external auditor or are subject to federal or state regulatory examination, and the lender provides to Freddie Mac any adverse audit findings indicating Code non-compliance.
Allows lenders to also use in-house staff appraisers to: 1) order appraisals; 2) conduct appraisal reviews and other quality control functions; 3) develop, deploy, or use internal automated valuation models; and 4) prepare appraisals in connection with transactions other than mortgage origination transactions, such as workouts, if the lender complies with the terms of the Code.

Lenders may use appraisal reports prepared by other entities engaged by the lender to provide other settlement services for the same transaction, as long as certain conditions are met.

Requires lenders to quality control test a randomly selected 10 percent (or other bona fide statistically significant percentage) sample of appraisal reports or valuations used by the lender, and report any adverse findings, including non-compliance of the Code, to Freddie Mac with respect to loans sold to us.

Allows Sellers with an asset size of less than $250 million to be considered a small bank as defined in 12 U.S.C. Section 2908 and exempting them from the requirements in Section IV of the Code. Sellers that qualify for this exemption must represent and warrant that they have in place appropriate policies and procedures, as well as adequate controls to prevent undue appraiser influence.
Independent Valuation Protection Institute

We will work with the New York State Attorney General, FHFA, Fannie Mae and other mortgage market participants regarding the Independent Valuation Protection Institute (Institute). The Institute has not yet been established, and therefore, the provisions regarding the Institute are not effective.

Learn more about the Home Valuation Code of Conduct:

Call (800) FREDDIE

Visit www. FreddieMac.com/singlefamily/home_valuation.html



Thursday, September 10, 2009

Real Estate Investment 101

Written by: Broderick Perkins

It could be a good time to invest in real estate, given the abundance of foreclosures and other distressed properties with reduced prices.

It could also be a bad time to invest in real estate, if you don't know what you are doing.

There's the rub.

It's a good time to invest, but it is difficult. Now when you go out to invest you are competing with a dozen offers. The investors are back.

Just like buying a home to live in, taking the real estate investment plunge requires taking stock of your financial goals, planning and lifestyle before taking the plunge.

Pretty much like buying any property.

If you've got the time, the money and the lifestyle that lends itself to managing a real estate investment, you are just about half way there.

However, both halves are pretty big halves.

The National Real Estate Investors Association says you've still got a lot of work to do. Here's how much.


Buy your own home first.
The general rule of thumb is that buying your own home will not only put a roof over your head, but also background you in the full experience of buying and owning property -- financials, market conditions, maintenance and real estate professionals you'll need along the way.

What's more, your first home could later become your first investment property, a property in a market with which you are familiar.

"You could maintain your current residence as a rental and move up into a larger home or better location yourself. This keeps the basis on your original property intact, but gives you an opportunity to move should your life dictate," says Kim DiBenedetto, president of the Monterey County Association of Realtors in Monterey, CA.

There is one exception to the buy-your-own-home-first rule says Cryder.

"If you live with Mom or the cost of your rental housing is low, stay there and purchase investment properties first. If you can rent way below market value, I wouldn't disturb that," said Cryder, who has been an investor since 1968, when he purchased his first property.

However, in today's market, an existing stake in a home can have a down side.

"You will be required to put more money down, most likely a minimum of 25 percent and also have several months in reserves. If you are upgrading from your current residence, your lender will require a minimum of 20 percent equity in your current residence before they will loan to you for another property," said DiBenedetto, also an agent with Coldwell Banker Del Monte Realty in Carmel.


Go back to school.
Turn to the Internet, reputable books, successful investment groups, college and university level courses, even your state's real estate license program. You don't have to actually get a license, but you can become just as educated as a licensed agent. Individual real estate investors, salespeople and others who you've met on the way to investing are also valuable educational resources.


Get professional help.
The same way you find any competent, trustworthy and honest professional is the same way to look for a mentor, investment partner with prior knowledge or investment group. Seek referrals from friends, family, professionals with whom you already conduct business, co-workers and others you trust who've had a satisfactory, successful real estate investing experience.

"Now, more than ever, you need the experience of a competent REALTOR® and lender to guide you through the process," said DiBenedetto.


Learn your investment market.
One market's bubble could be one investor's boom and another investor's bust. A home in one market could give you vacation rental income in a half year sufficient to cover the cost of principal, interest, taxes, insurance, home owner association dues, upkeep and other costs, but still not appreciate. Another home in another market may not bring you sufficient rent in a year's time to cover the cost of owning the property, but might appreciate more than enough to make up for your carrying costs over the long term.

The variables are endless and you'll need to measure your capacity for risk against market conditions.


Exit strategy
Finally, while some experts say you'll also need to develop an exit strategy in terms of unloading properties when they are no longer viable investments, Cryder says if you buy right and stick it out over the loan haul you won't need an exist strategy.

"When you've got the goose that lays the golden egg, be satisfied with the golden egg," he says.

Credits to: Real Estate Update Newsletter

Major Campaign To Extend $8,000 Home Buyer Tax Credit Underway

By: Kenneth R. Harney

The House and Senate may have left Capitol Hill for their Summer break, but housing lobbyists are busy at work gearing up a major campaign to extend the $8,000 home buyer tax credit.

The credit for first-time purchasers is scheduled to expire November 30.

The National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors want to persuade Congress to nail down an extension of the credit, and maybe even broaden its coverage, as soon as possible.

The home builders are mounting an aggressive campaign during the congressional recess. The association is sending out local teams of members to meet with congressmen and senators in their home districts, urging not only a one year extension of the credit, but an expansion of the concept to cover all home buyers next year, not just first-timers.

Though the endorsement may, or may not, have been connected with the home builders' campaign, one of the most politically powerful Democrats has already signaled that he favors a one year extension.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, said he thinks “it's something we can get done.” According to a report in the Las Vegas Sun, Reid made the comment during a conference call with Nevada reporters.

Meanwhile, the influential chairman of the Senate banking committee, Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd, has teamed up with Georgia Republican Senator Johnny Isakson to sponsor a bill that would extend the credit for another year and expand it to a $15,000 maximum.

In the House, two bills have been introduced to extend and expand the credit for either six months or 12 months. The National Association of Realtors is strongly supporting the extension efforts, and is sending its own delegations to lobby key members of the House Ways and Means committee and the Senate Finance committee.

So with all this going on, is it a sure thing that the tax credit will be available in some form for home buyers next year? Should consumers who can't quite make the November 30 deadline breathe easier?

Absolutely not. There is no sure thing on Capitol Hill whenever legislation looks like it's got a clear path to passage. That's when opponents hijack the bill or filibuster it in the Senate.

Nonetheless, extension of the credit looks like it has growing bipartisan support. Mary Trupo, legislative spokesperson for the National Association of Realtors, told Realty Times that “we feel Congress is receptive” to the message that the housing tax credit helps create jobs, and stimulates the economy.

But nobody should assume it's a done deal, until it is.

Credits to: Michael Magaw / Peter Wollner from New Homes and Land Brokers in California.

Diversify Your Retirement by Adding Real Estate to Your IRA

By: Matthew R. Rasche

A lot of people are struggling with how to invest for their retirement. I have had clients come to me and say that their retirement fund has been set back 10 years. They don’t want to work an extra 5 years to re-fund their retirement and are looking for a better way of doing things. I often explain to them how they can use a portion of their retirement funds to invest directly into real estate and bypass Wall Street by using a self directed IRA.

The first concern my clients have is, "I checked with the company that services my IRA and they won’t let me buy real estate. I can only hold stocks, bonds and mutual funds." Most of your typical brokerages will not let you hold Real Estate. Real Estate is considered an "alternative asset" when it comes to retirement accounts. There is a special "Self Directed IRA" which is designed to hold alternative assets; primarily real estate. Not many brokerages offer these types of accounts because they can’t make commission off of anything which isn’t a typical Wall Street product. There are several very good brokerages which offer Self-Directed IRAs for real estate.

Keep in mind that opening a Self-Directed IRA does not mean you have to close your current IRA. You can transfer as much or as little as you want to your new account. For Example, if you have $500,000 in a traditional IRA at XYZ brokerage and you want to invest $150,000 in real estate, you can just leave the other $350,000 at XYZ brokerage and maintain your current assets. However, if you rolled your entire IRA over to a Self-Directed IRA you can still own all the traditional assets you’d like. A self directed IRA has all of the features of a traditional IRA with the added ability to hold alternative assets.

Everyone knows that the closer you get to retirement the less risk should be in your portfolio. Depending on your current needs, you may be looking for long term appreciation or immediate cash flow from a rental property. Working with a good Real Estate Broker and attorney you can clearly define your objective and find a property that meets your needs. Owning cash-flow property in an IRA offers a great stream of revenue which often times can create better cash flow than an annuity or stock dividends.

Just like a traditional IRA, all appreciation and cash flow are tax deferred. Always work closely with the company servicing your Self Directed IRA to ensure compliance during the transaction. If the transaction does not comply with the self Directed IRA requirements it is possible you will lose the tax deferral as well as incur an early tax liability. Due Diligence is the name of the game.

My clients also will say, "I’d love to invest in real estate through a Self Directed IRA but I don’t have enough money to buy an entire property." This is another common concern of many of my clients. A great way to take advantage of Real Estate in a self directed IRA is through Fractional Ownership.

Fractional ownership is a type of situation where multiple investors pool together their funds to make one larger purchase. For Example:

Joe and 4 of his friends each invest $50,000 from their self directed IRAs to buy a $250,000 4-flat rental property. Now Joe and his friends each own a 20% interest in a cash flow property. By pooling together funds and buying properties for cash there is no dilution of returns.

Real Estate is a logical addition to many retirement portfolios for 4 key reasons.

It is totally transparent - Real Estate is a tangible asset and is not subject to the same volatility or vagary many traditional Wall Street products are

It offers strong cash flow - Many income properties are generating between an 8% and 10% annual cash return

It can be acquired at bargain prices - With many landlords needing to liquidate properties, today’s market offers great opportunity to acquire real estate at below-market prices In today’s uncertain economic times, having a portion of your retirement invested in Real Estate will give you greater diversification and greater returns.

It acts as a hedge against inflation - With the fear of inflation looming over the economy, real estate has always acted as a hedge and performed well in times of high inflation

Author Resource:- Matthew R. Rasche is Broker/Principal of Portfolio Real Estate Brokerage, Inc. for more information or to ask any questions please comment below or visit http://www.MyPortfolioRealEstate.com

Credits to: Broker/Agent Social Website

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge's Ruling Could Change Foreclosure Laws Nationwide

Published on Friday, August 14, 2009, 3:08 PM Last Update: 3 day(s) ago by Kimbrough Gray

Category: All Articles » REO's and Foreclosures
Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS) has been used by lenders nationwide to track mortgages via the system's database. Lenders who are members of the program are represented in the enforcement of a promissory note secured by a mortgage. A U.S. Bankruptcy Judge in Nevada ruled earlier this year that MERS could no longer represent lenders foreclosing on homeowners in bankruptcy unless the actual loan document could be produced.

Typically, a mortgage note goes through several iterations of sale to different mortgage lenders, which makes it difficult to produce original loan documentation. When lenders begin foreclosing on homeowners in bankruptcy, the original note is often not available.

MERS is a program that was initiated by several lenders over 20 years ago to simplify the complicated mortgage process. The system is designed to track mortgages and any associated sale of the note via a central database. Over 60 million mortgages are currently monitored by the program. Lenders who are members are represented by MERS throughout the foreclosure process.

Although the bankruptcy judge's ruling presents a roadblock for lenders in the foreclosure process, it is not the first time MERS was challenged in court. The same ruling was handed down in a Florida court; however, the company eventually won on appeal.

For homeowners who owe more than their home is worth, or are unable to pay their mortgage payments, the ruling may only delay proceedings for about a month or more. In attempts to further assist homeowners in default on their mortgage, a Nevada state representative introduced legislation to allow homeowners in financial hardship to ask for arbitration in their mortgage default process. This would overstep service providers like MERS, and require mortgage lenders to be involved, instead.

Even though it was handed down in Nevada, bankruptcy attorneys in other states have voiced appreciation in regards to the ruling. One noted Houston attorney stated that the new law could have a nationwide impact on the ability of lenders to enforce mortgage loans. In addition, it throws some negotiating leverage onto the playing field that was not available before for homeowners in foreclosure going through bankruptcy.

A deluge of complaints have been filed against service providers in regards to aggravating the excessive number of foreclosures initiated in the past two-and-a-half years. On the other hand, MERS argues that its services enable a broader range of home lending options for homebuyers.

The program maintains current mortgage information and ownership, and avoids the astronomical millions associated with recording fees, along with the associated paperwork. MERS officials noted verbiage from one Florida court decision that stated the program was "innovative."

Will the decision hold up? Regardless, as in the Florida case, MERS immediately appealed the judge's decision.

The bigger question, however, is whether the ruling will catch fire in other states. Also, it will be interesting to see if the Nevada statesman's proposed bill will be cause for pause for legislation in other states across the Union.

With all the twists and turns we're seeing in the courts of late, anything could happen.

Ki's company is located in Central Austin. He maintains a website allowing buyers to search for homes in the Austin MLS. He has worked with Austin real estate for almost 10 years. His site has information and graphs on historical interest rates.

For information purposes: Taken from: Broker/Agent Social Website.

Friday, September 4, 2009

How do you react to change?

Managing Your Mind
By: Gillian Butler, Ph. D and Tony Hope, M.D.

Recognizing that you can change

Different people respond to differently to pressures for change. I like this book because it gives so many examples on how to do things better, and become a better person for yourself, your family, and friends. The authors gave an example of five caricatures, which reflect specific patterns that people use when dealing with change, and/or conflict. They said, there are five caricatures which help us recognized certain elements about how we cope with change by developing a particular style of response. Each of these five styles has both advantages and disadvantages according to them. I am writing them down so you can analyze and see if you follow any of these patterns when reacting to change.

The five caricatures are:
1) The Sage - Is the person who seeks after knowledge and reads all about it.
2) The Traveler – They assumed that because we are constantly on the move, we must be going somewhere.
3) The Drifter – Retire from center stage, give up the struggle, and allow themselves to be carried wherever the current takes them “they go with the flow”.
4) The Ostrich – Has two characteristics: it hides its head in the sand and it has a powerful kick. Refusing to accept the inevitability of change can lead to both of these reactions
5) The Conductor of the Orchestra – They take control and set out to make things happen.

Think about these caricatures to think about whether to enlarge your repertoire of styles for making changes.

On this journey, we can use all that we know to give ourselves more options and better chances of helping ourselves to change.

CONDITIONS for CHANGE:

1. Understand the Present. If there are aspects of the present you do not like, you can start to plan how to change, but if you pretend these aspects do not exist, you will NEVER change.
2. Do NOT be burdened by the Past. The past cannot longer be changed. The past is an information bank from which you can learn. But it is not a web in which you are caught.
3. Accept the Uncertainty of the Future. An attitude of openness and confidence is needed for the future as well as for the past. The future is outside our control, and the unexpected is a continual possibility.