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Tuesday, February 18, 2020
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Commercial Real Estate

AUG 24: ‘Take My Home... Please!’

By Sandy McCloud

Pardon my use of the old, worn-out joke from Henny Youngman, the king of one-liners, who practically made a career out of saying “Take my wife…PLEASE.”  But with all the aggressive programs being offered to encourage people to buy homes, I just couldn’t resist!  Although most of the rebates, tax credits, etc., that are available would not fit the typical Tybee Island buyer, they are certainly great to know about if you have any children, friends or family members who want to buy a home in the Savannah community with a conservative loan program that would give them  incredible bang for their buck.
There’s no doubt in my mind that these programs are doing their job, and, with the tax rebates and incentives expiring on Nov. 30,  buyers are coming out of the woodwork! Granted, most of the ones I’ve been handling are not looking to purchase anything over $250K, but they are feeling confident enough about their jobs and the economy to get off the fence and make an offer. Offers that I have been seeing are not usually close to full price, but they’re a starting point, and, most of the time, if the seller really wants or needs to sell, we’ve been able to come to terms that were agreeable to both sides.
Several things are appealing to buyers at the moment, including the well-known $8,000 tax rebate that’s being offered by Uncle Sam. Although most people are under the impression that the credit is only offered to first-time buyers, that is not the case. According to the IRS form used to claim the credit, you may also qualify if your home was purchased in 2009 and you (and your spouse if married) did not own any other main home during the three-year period ending on the date of purchase. There are some other criteria, and your tax expert could help you determine if you can take advantage, as there are income and other limits (for example, you can not claim the credit if you inherited the house).  Those who do get the credit will not have to pay it back as long as the home remains their primary residence for 36 months.
The state of Georgia also offered an aggressive program to help get foreclosed properties off the market, since the state was among the top 10 states dealing with foreclosures. Just like the tax credit, there were income limits and more hoops to jump through, but those who jumped on the wagon before the funding ran out qualified for $14,000 that could be used for down payment and/or for repairs to the foreclosed property. Believe it or not, there are some foreclosed homes that are in very pristine condition. I’ve recently sold foreclosed homes on Tybee, Wilmington Island and other communities that were in absolute move-in condition.  But if you decide to pursue a foreclosure, be sure to work with an educated lender and an accredited buyer representative who understands the convoluted process to help you avoid some of the serious pitfalls that can arise along the way.
Besides these programs, there are other very helpful loans that offer great rates and conservative, 30-year fixed-rate terms to buyers, including the USDA Rural Development loans that help people who want to purchase in certain parts of our area based on the location of the house in proximity to Interstate 95. For more specifics, visit their Web site at   Plus, the Department of Community Affairs offers   down payment opportunities for those who work in education, health or emergency jobs (whether you are an ambulance driver, police dispatcher, teacher aid or lunch lady at the school). It’s called the PEN Program, an acronym for “Police, Educators, Nurses,” even though most jobs in the health, education or emergency response fields may qualify. For more info on this program, check out the DCA Web site at
The bottom line is, with rates at near historic lows, reasonable, conservative loan programs, a great pool of inventory to choose from and many sellers who are more willing than ever to work with buyers to help them with closing costs and other perks, it’s a great time to be a buyer!  So get out there and “Take that home…PLEASE!”  In a few years when the market insanity has stabilized, you may be very glad you did!

Sandy McCloud is a Certified Residential Real Estate Specialist and Accredited Buyer’s Representative with Century 21 Fox Properties who loves living on Tybee!

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