Meet the $8K Home Buyer Deadline with Help from LGBT Pros
Most people shopping for a home this year are keenly aware that a special $8,000 new home buyer credit is being offered as part of the government’s emergency economic stimulus legislation. But the clock is ticking toward the expiration date and unless the provision is amended or renewed to extend the deadline, buyers only have until the end of November to finalize their purchases. First timers are urged to do whatever they can to streamline the real estate shopping experience, and working with a gay-friendly Realtor and lender can often save valuable time for LGBT new home buyers.
A gay or lesbian couple may need to seek legal and financial advice in order to help them better understand their rights as owners, for example, since many of the benefits related to real estate ownership are only available to those couples who are legally married according to state and federal statutes. An experienced Realtor accustomed to working with LGBT clients will either know the answers immediately or be able to quickly refer the buyers to a reputable real estate attorney who is well-versed in complex LGBT legal issues.
Similarly, those who want to buy together gay may encounter complications along the way when trying to secure mortgage financing. They may need guidance regarding whose credit report or income to submit on the loan application, or they may need reassurance that, for example, the mortgage documents and deed are crafted in such a way that they reflect equitable sharing of assets and liabilities. For a loan processor unfamiliar with mortgage financing for LGBT partnerships this may create confusion, and when mortgage applications encounter people who are confused that usually translates into frustrating delays.
Plus, the harsh reality is that many people do not support equal rights for gays and are reluctant to roll up their sleeves to help expand the LGBT community in their own neighborhood or city. While they might not openly discriminate against their own clients or customers because they are gay, they may decide to do only the bare minimum to assist them – which is a common tactic of covert discrimination. When working with someone who engages in foot dragging or is not as attentive as possible, precious time gets spent without successful results – and with $8,000 on the line there is really no time to waste. A better strategy is to work from the very beginning with professionals who are known within the community for doing excellent, enthusiastic, tireless work on behalf of satisfied LGBT buyers.
Keep in mind that the government and the IRS define first time home owners in a broader sense, so you may still be entitled to the tax credit even if you have already owned a home sometime in your life – or have even bought and sold dozens of them in your lifetime. That’s because according to the official definition of a first time buyer you must not have owned or co-owned your principle residence during the past three consecutive years. So if you have been a renter over the past few years, for example, and have not owned your own principal residence for at least three years, then you are considered a first time buyer.
But just having a purchase contract or an approved mortgage application is not sufficient to qualify you for the tax benefit, and deals often get postponed en route to the closing table. That is especially true during months with major holidays. Real estate attorneys and title companies may, for example, work fewer days or limited hours as Thanksgiving approaches. Buyers counting on getting their real estate transactions closed at the end of November may find out that the preparation of final documents cannot be scheduled on time, and that could be a potential nightmare.
Buyers should, for instance, expect that there will be a flurry of late November activity as other new home buyers also rush to close on time. The anticipated surge in last-minute transactions may create delays at banks, mortgage companies, and law offices that handle real estate closings. So a better strategy is to get sales settled way ahead of time – ideally before the end of October.
Finding and successfully closing on a new home can be a time-consuming effort with many unexpected hurdles and frustrating delays, even under ordinary circumstances. But according to the Commerce Department low interest rates, the big federal tax credit, and deeply discounted prices have caused residential real estate sales to jump to the highest level in months. In June, for example, new home sales experienced their sharpest increase in nearly a decade. That may cause underwriting delays, and with $8,000 at stake it pays to be proactive to facilitate the home buying process, find the best deal on an appropriate mortgage, and get to closing to claim the tax perk before time expires.
Jeffery Hammerberg is Founder and President of Gay Real Estate, Inc. – the nation’s largest group of companies connecting gay & lesbian home buyers and sellers to gay, lesbian and gay friendly real estate agents.
Photo credit: www.GayRealEstate.com.