Jeff’s Carlsbad Blog for First Time Home Buyers

Summary of FEDERAL and CALIFORNIA Tax Credits

Posted in Financial,Taxes by Jeff Dowler on April 12, 2010
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Time is running out to get in on the Federal tax credits.

But if you are able to put a California home under contract BY APRIL 30, 2010 and CLOSE after MAY 1, you could get both the Federal and California state tax credit (up to a total of $18,000!!).

Here’s a handy dandy summary of what you need to know to take advantage of these tax credits.

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Visit my Real Estate Consumer Blog at Carlsbad Real Estate News for lots of information about the general area

All content copyright © 2010 Jeff Dowler “The California Relocation Dude”


NEW Tax Credits for California Homebuyers

Posted in Financial,Taxes,What do I Buy? by Jeff Dowler on March 26, 2010
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Here is some great news if you are planning on buying a home, or thinking about it.

New legislation signed yesterday by the Governor approved new state tax credits for:

  • First Time Home Buyers

  • Buyers of NEW homes (i.e., new construction or never occupied before)

The NEW TAX CREDIT is up to $10,000. And if you time it right you COULD receive up to $18,000 (provided you meet all the qualifications) if combined with the current federal program that is ending soon. You would need to CLOSE on your new home ON or AFTER May 1, 2010 and ON or BEFORE June 30, 2010.

Let me know if you have questions or need help making your home buying dream a reality! It’s important to also consult a tax professional to see if you qualify and what the tax implications might be. The credit for Californians is paid out over 3 years.

READ MORE: California Home Buyers – New Tax Credits Coming Your Way

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All content copyright © 2010 Jeff Dowler “The California Relocation Dude”

Misconceptions About the First Time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit

Posted in FAQs,Financial,Taxes by Jeff Dowler on February 13, 2010
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First of all, don’t forget that this credit is not going to last forever.

The DEADLINE to get the credit is APRIL 30, 2010 (You must have your new home under contract by that date, i.e., a binding sales contract, and CLOSE by the end of June).  So if you are going after a short sale, you may lose out given what we know about how these transactions get delayed.

A misconception is the amount of the credit for first time home buyers.

Folks often think it is an automatic $8000. Buy a $60,000 condo and you get a credit of $8000.

WRONG. Unfortunately.

BUT, the credit is UP TO $8000 based on the purchase price of the home, with the credit being 10% of the purchase price.

THIS IS A CORRECTION TO MY ORIGINAL POST (thanks to a recent reader) So an $80,000 purchase yields a credit of $8,000, depending, of course on income (there are limits in the plan) and your personal tax situation.

Another important point is the ARM’S-LENGTH TRANSACTION – you can read more about this in an article by a friend of mine, MISSY CAULK, in Ann Arbor, Michigan (It must be an Arms-Length Transaction to Claim the Tax Credit). BTW if you are looking to by OR sell a home in Ann Arbor, Missy is THE REAL ESTATE AGENT to call. Tell her I sent you!

READ MORE about the first time home buyer’s tax credit and commonly asked questions.

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All content copyright © 2010 Jeff Dowler “The California Relocation Dude”

First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended

Posted in Financial,Mortgage info,Taxes by Jeff Dowler on November 16, 2009
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As many folks know, the government signed an extension to the First Time Homebuyer Credit which includes a tax credit for move-up buyers.

Here is a GREAT SUMMARY of some of the key things to know about this new legislation from a colleague of mine in Arizona, Mike Jones.

This is something worth keeping in mind if you are thinking about buying, in addition to the good rates on mortgages.

Check out this website on the First Time Buyer Tax Credit to get answers to all your questions.

Yet Another Tax Credit

Posted in Financial,Taxes by Jeff Dowler on March 6, 2009
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Tax credits are popping up left and right.


First there is the $8,000 tax credit for first time home buyers that arose out of Obama’s stimulus plan. Good news for some buyers in today’s market.

Now California is providing a tax credit for buyers (first timers or anyone else) of up to $10,000. The requirements are:

  • you must buy a home on or after March 1, 2009 and before March 1, 2010
  • the home MUST be your primary residence
  • the home must never have been occupied (new construction)

This credit program is being run by the State of California Franchise Tax Board, and credits will be allocated on a first come first serve basis until the total monies ($100,000,000) are used up.

Read more on the Franchise Tax Board website.


If I can provide more information about Carlsbad and surrounding areas, or the housing market in general, or otherwise assist you in your home search, please contact me by phone or text at (760) 840-1360 or email me at

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First Time Home Buyers Relocation Services and more How to get in touch with me

All content copyright © 2009 Jeff Dowler

What to Know About Property Taxes When You Buy

Posted in Financial,Taxes by Jeff Dowler on December 10, 2008
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One of the big expenses you will have as a first time home buyer will be property taxes.

As part of your due diligence during your search, and once you have an accepted offer, you should be sure you understand how much tax you will be paying so you are not caught unawares.

An estimate of expected taxes should be included when you are getting pre-approved (I would use a fairly aggressive amount) so you truly know the amount you can borrow and can afford based on your budget. Property taxes will amount to thousands of dollars per year.

When you are going to close on your new home, a large portion of the closing costs might be your property taxes. You will be required to pay a pro-rata portion of these property taxes upfront (called an IMPOUND) so that when the semi-annual taxes are due (in California they are paid twice per year) your mortgage company has enough money to pay them.

For example, if you close in December the next tax payment will be due in only a few months, and the mortgage company will not be able to collect enough through your monthly payments in order to pay the full tax payment. So they collect money upfront to ensure they have enough.

The other reason that this is done is that your FIRST mortgage payment is generally not due the month after you close but the second month afterwards. But don’t think you are getting a free month. The lender will collect the pro-rated interest from the time of your closing until your first monthly payment upfront too.

Here is the schedule of impounds that you likely will see and can be expected to pay – keep in mind that this may vary with the lender, who might require more upfront money. Make SURE you know what this amount is before closing so you can plan for your closing costs. Your lender can tell you what upfront money you will need. (this table of information was obtained from a colleague of mine, Michelle Elkins at Nations Title in Carlsbad)

Month of Funding

First Monthly Payment

Tax Impound



5 months


































Fees, Fees, Fees – Where Does it Stop?

Posted in Financial,Homeownership,Taxes by Jeff Dowler on February 14, 2008
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question-mark.gifBuying your first home can be a daunting experience. Just the thought of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and having a monthly payment of $2500 or more is scary. Some folks decide to keep renting rather than have a higher payment – understandable, although the trade off is NOT having the tax advantage, building your credit or adding to your wealth by building equity.

New buyers are often NOT aware of some of the fees to expect on top of paying a monthly mortgage payment. better to know in advance so you are prepared, and can effectively manage your personal budget.

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Here are some additional fees you MAY have to pay:

  1. Home owner association fees (HOA) – these can range from perhaps $60 per month to $300+ per month. Not tax deductible but check with an accountant
  2. Home owner’s insurance – may be escrowed (collected monthly as part of your mortgage payment or paid separately – varies with the lender. This could be $500 – $1000 annually, maybe more.
  3. Utilities – you probably pay most or all of this already if you are renting but don’t forget them. And in a condo or house they could be more (gas, electric, water, sewer, trash)
  4. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – if you are financing more than 80% of your purchase (i.e., your down-payment is LESS than 20%), you likely will be required by your lender to have PMI, which protects the lender in the case of a default. I am not advocating a particular bank but here is a good informational piece on PMI.
  5. Property taxes – you can’t avoid them and they can really add up. Find out how much they are (but a ROUGH estimate here in California is 1% of the purchase price – they vary widely by community). These are normally part of your monthly payment (escrow) so the bank can pay the taxes when they are due. YOU are responsible for getting the tax bill to your bank in time to make the payments.
  6. Mello Roos – some areas (especially new subdivisions) will levy additional fees called Mello Roos. Again, not avoidable and they can last for years. Check with an accountant regarding tax deductibility.

Carlsbad Buyers and the Homeowner’s Property Tax Exemption

Posted in Financial,Homeownership,Taxes by Jeff Dowler on September 3, 2007

If you are buying a new home in Carlsbad, or other areas in San Diego County, you should know about the property taxes and the Homeowner’s Tax Exemption.

Read more about this tax reduction here.

Carlsbad Buyers Ask – What is Proposition 13?

Posted in Financial,House Hunting,Taxes by Jeff Dowler on August 27, 2007

Folks buying property in Carlsbad and other California communities need to know about Proposition 13 as it impacts property taxes. Each state seems to have different regulations about property taxes, how they are calculated, what they are used for, when they are paid, and so on.

Here in Carlsbad and other California communities, Propositon 13 regulates the property tax amount and caps it at 1% of the assessed value of your home, and real property (such as a home) can only be reassessed

(1) with a change in ownership (there are some exceptions)

(2) with new construction (e.g., room addition).

This means that the property assessment cannot go up by more than 2% in any given year, based on the California Consumer Price Index.

The property taxes, therefore, are 1% of the assessed value PLUS any special fees, bonds, etc. (such as Mello Roos). A very rough calculation of the tax, thus, when you buy is 1% of the purchase price (but at the low end). Check with the town in which you are buying to find out the actual tax rate – for Carlsbad homes for the current tax year it ranges from 1.01714% to 1.04842% plus any special fees.

More information can be found on the Assessor’s website.

READ MORE on homeowner property taxes in Carlsbad here.


Start your CARLSBAD HOME SEARCH here (and other San Diego communities as well).

Request Free BUYER and SELLER REPORTS here.

Are Mello Roos Tax Deductible?

Posted in Due Diligence,Financial,Homeownership,Taxes by Jeff Dowler on January 22, 2007

I have recently had a couple of buyers ask are Mello Roos are tax deductible, like property taxes?

The answer is not simple. And since I am NOT a tax professional nor can I give you tax advice, let me provide some information that may help.

If you are not clear on what Mello Roos are, see my previous post on “What are Mello Roos?” Generally if there are Mello Roos fees on a property it will be noted in the MLS. But it’s ALWAYS a good thing to double check when you are going through the due diligence process to make sure if there are or not (just as you want to know what the HOA fees are and what they cover).

Regarding tax deductibility, the answer seems to be yes or no – it depends.

Here is a link to a good summary (Spanish and English) of the issue and an explanation of when they may be deducted and when not.

But as always, check with a tax advisor to get the lowdown. You don’t want to get yourself in trouble with the state department of revenue or the IRS.

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