Monday, June 1, 2009

Policy change makes $8,000 home buyer's tax credit available upfront
By Kenneth R. Harney, Special to the St. Petersburg Times

WASHINGTON - The $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time home purchasers is about to morph into a ready-cash down payment source, thanks to a new federal policy change.

Buyers eligible for the credit who apply for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) may soon also be eligible for bridge loans or cash advances - up to $8,000 - that they can use for the down payment, closing costs or other loan expenses pending receipt of their tax credit check from the IRS.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the FHA change May 12 in a speech to the midyear convention of the National Association of Realtors. The idea, he said, is to "monetize" - turn into immediately spendable cash - a tax credit that often is not received until months after the settlement date.

As many as half of all would-be first-time buyers do not have enough cash on hand for a down payment and closing costs, according to building and real estate industry estimates. By advancing these consumers as much as $8,000 at closing, many more would be able to afford the purchase.

Officials at the National Association of Home Builders say the bridge loan feature could double the total number of home purchases stimulated by the 2009 tax credit program to more than 300,000, depending on how many private lenders and state housing agencies participate.

Under guidance drafted by the FHA, all lenders approved to do business with the agency will be authorized to provide bridge loans at closing - secured solely by the tax credit the borrower anticipates receiving from the IRS. State and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations approved by FHA will be allowed to offer either bridge loans or second mortgages secured by the house.

Though the $8,000 tax credit carries the name "first-time homebuyer," eligibility extends to anyone who hasn't owned a principal residence in the past three years. The credit amount from the IRS is the lesser of 10 percent of the purchase price of the dwelling or $8,000.

Donovan's announcement came as a small but growing number of states have begun bridge loan programs on their own to help stimulate home purchases. California has even created its own state-funded tax credit program - a 10 percent credit payable to the buyer over three years - but has limited it to newly built houses.

The federal $8,000 credit only covers purchases closed by Nov. 30. Unless Congress extends the credit, it will disappear Dec. 1.

The new bridge loans and cash advance features of the federal credit may not be available immediately through private lenders, mortgage industry leaders say. Among the key questions yet to be answered: Where will non-depository mortgage companies get the $8,000 to provide upfront to buyers? Although most major banks offer second mortgage programs, the FHA guidelines stipulate that the tax credit advances cannot be secured by a lien on the property, but only by the tax credit to be received by the purchaser.

Many mortgage companies, which do not have banking deposits to tap, will need a few weeks to prepare documentation for what will essentially be secured personal loans. Plus they'll need to locate a source of funds for their advances. In the meantime, however, would-be buyers who think they are eligible for the federal credit shouldn't sit around.

Odds are good that by the time they're ready to get a mortgage and go to closing, at least some local FHA-approved lenders will be in the market with bridge loans.

Ken Harney can be reached at

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tropic Topic Author of the week:Tropic Topic Author of the week:Linda Meloy

Turnbridge Properties, Inc.
Sales Tales...

Two great reasons to buy
Real Estate ...
This is one of my favorite times of the year in Tampa. That's because it is the perfect time to go to the beach and in this market, it is the perfect time to purchase real estate at the beach.

Did you know that in 2008 our own Caladesi Island was number one on the top US best beaches? It is in our back yard.

Caladesi Island State Park is located west of the city of Dunedin, north of Clearwater. It is best enjoyed by fishing, shelling, or studying nature. Sand dunes line the open beach with turtles and shore birds finding it the perfect location for nesting.

Ferry service is available from the mainland, departing hourly weather permitting. Picnic pavilions, bath houses and a park concessions provide additional amenities to make your visit to Caladesi more enjoyable. Boaters can enjoy the bayside marina where overnight docking is permitted.

Hours of operation are from 8am to sundown, 365 days a year. Saltwater fishing licenses are required in Florida. Admission fees are $4.00 for up to 8 people per private boat and kayakers are $1.00 per person. Fees vary for parking at Honeymoon Island and ferry to Caladesi. Pavilion fees are $32.00 per person with reservations two weeks in advance. Call 727-469-5918 for further information.

Also, we have another beach voted as the number one beach in the US in 2005. Fort Desoto Park is located in the southwest corner of Mullet Key, at the entrance to Tampa Bay. This park was named America's Top Beach in 2008 by TripAdvisor, the world's largest online travel community.
Citing a "spectacular combination of soft white sand, calm, clear water and a laid back atmosphere," the popular online travel network put the park's North Beach at the top of its annual best-of list.

AND, that is not to mention Clearwater Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Belleair Beach, St. Pete Beach and many more we have access to.

We really live in an incredible city that affords us many opportunities. If you love the beach like I do, this is the perfect real estate market to purchase your waterfront get away!!

SO, lather on the sunscreen, get a good book, and take a day off from the 'ole grind and head to one of these marvelous beaches!! ENJOY
Local Business Spotlight

I love Fresh Market on Henderson Blvd!! This is truly a one stop shopping experience.
There is absolutely no reason to cook after a long day at work. You can choose from all these prepared foods: 4 different kinds of wings: teriyaki, chipotle bacon, buffalo or natural. There is rotisserie bourbon salmon, baby back ribs, pork loin roast and awesome twice baked potatoes.

The following items require cooking, but they are ready to go. There are bacon wrapped scallops, filet mignon kabobs, bleu cheese burgers, bacon cheddar cheese burgers, along with many different kinds of stuffed chicken breasts.
The store boasts an incredible fresh organic produce department, as well as beautiful fresh flowers. The roses are such a bargain at $8.99 for a dozen!!

Shopping would not be complete without being able to purchase a nice bottle of wine to go along with the wonderful dinner you did not have to prepare.

So after a long day of work without a chance to eat, take a load off and head to Fresh Market. You will be glad you did.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Today's Tropic Real Estate Topic

Tropic Topic Author of the Day: Ed Porcelli
Turnbridge properties, Inc.

I thought during these times of difficult economic conditions, riding unemployment, and uncertainty for many, that we could all use a great story of inspiration and most of all . . . hope. This article was written by Edward D. Murphy of the Press Herald in Maine dated July 1, 2003. Anyone who thinks hard work, or a simple effort at work, is a waste of time should consider the story of Brian Corcoran. His story relates to Real Estate and every other line of work.The Old Orchard Beach native's cold call - actually a cold e-mail - led to a new sponsorship agreement, worth a reported $750 million over 10 years, between Nextel and NASCAR. It's considered the biggest sponsorship deal in the history of American sports."The stars just aligned," is how Corcoran modestly puts it.Cold-calling is the practice of calling potential customers, not knowing if they're in the market for your product or not. Most salespeople eschew the practice, saying the results rarely justify the effort.Corcoran's cold call is probably the most successful in the history of sales.Corcoran grew up in Old Orchard Beach, graduating from high school in 1987. His father, a retired police officer, and mother, who owns a beauty salon, still live in the beach town, as does his brother, who is lifeguarding for the summer.Corcoran went to Eastern Kentucky University, where he earned a master's degree in sports management. He helped to market the school's teams and then went on to work on partnership marketing between companies and the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.Other jobs - with a communications company in Dallas, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and CBS - followed. He raced on over to NASCAR in April, just in time for the organization to start searching for a new sponsor.Winston had sponsored the racing tour and its annual championship, the Winston Cup, for more than three decades. But the company and the racing circuit decided to part ways.Winston's parent, R.J. Reynolds, was reportedly concerned about the rising cost. NASCAR, Corcoran said, was looking to broaden its audience and felt somewhat restricted in promoting the sport with its prime sponsorship coming from a cigarette company.Reynolds made the decision official in December 2002, and Corcoran, NASCAR's director of corporate marketing, was one of those focused on finding a replacement.Nextel, he said, was on the list of 60 or so likely candidates. He sent an e-mail to a casual acquaintance from the company in early March, suggesting a get-together to discuss the possibility of a sponsorship.From there, NASCAR and Nextel courted for the next few weeks, culminating in Nextel signing the huge deal on June 17.Corcoran said NASCAR and Nextel are a perfect match - he prefers to refer to the arrangement as a marriage."We've been dating a few other people along the way," he said of the process that led to Nextel's offer last month. "Just based on multiple criteria, they're really our kind of people."NASCAR gets a pile of money and stepped-up advertising to promote racing. Nextel gets a direct connection to the fastest-growing spectator sport in the country and its rabid fans."NASCAR has 75 million loyal fans," Corcoran said, and to Nextel, "our fan is their customer."He said the tie-ins are numerous, with NASCAR increasingly relying on technology, such as the way pit crews and drivers communicate during a race.He said Nextel could feed off that and offer NASCAR fans extras, such as daily racing updates delivered via text message on cell phones, or perhaps a recorded message from a fan's favorite driver left in the voice mailbox.Those ideas might have been some of the calculations that went into the sponsorship, but Corcoran believes something else was at play."Being an Irishman, I feel there's some luck tied into the equation," he said.Corcoran, who admits he was - at best - a "passive fan" of racing while growing up, still manages to get back home from time to time. In fact, he said, he's nursing a bit of a sunburn from his visit this past weekend.He'll be back at the end of July, Corcoran said, in time to lead a family group to Loudon, N.H., for the New England 300."I'm a hard-core fan now," he said, not surprisingly. "It's very addictive." I believe the moral of the story here is that your life can change with one phone call, email or in person contact. Those who work diligently and believe that they are making a difference through their efforts are the ones who will be rewarded in the end.
Recipes of the Month

White Bean & Prosciutto Bruschetta

Strips of prosciutto top each toast and are topped in turn with a mound of creamy white beans and a sprinkling of crisp red onion. If you like, serve these with the Bruschetta Duet to make a tantalizing trio.
RECIPE INGREDIENTS2 cups drained and rinsed canned cannellini beans (one 19-ounce can)1 1/4 teaspoons wine vinegar1 tablespoon olive oil3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme1/4 teaspoon salt1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley2 ounces thin-sliced prosciutto, fat removed, cut into thin stripsBruschetta2 tablespoons minced red onion

Place the beans in a medium glass or stainless-steel bowl. Using a fork, mash the beans to a coarse puree. Stir in the vinegar, oil, thyme, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the parsley.Put some of the prosciutto on each of the bruschetta and top with the bean mixture. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tablespoon parsley and the red onion over the beans.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Today's Tropic Topic:
Historic Hyde Park's
7th Annual Home Tour
Tropic Topic Author of the Day: Tami Kirschner
Turnbridge Properties, Inc.

The Historic Hyde Park Neighborhood Association holds its 7th annual Home Tour on Saturday March 7th. The tour begins at 10:00 AM at Kate Jackson Park and takes you through nine houses that range in style from historic bungalows, traditional Mediterranean, to examples of new home construction in a historic vernacular. As you walk from home to home you will be given a progressive lunch from some of Tampa's finest local restaurants...while also being able to view restored antique cars from The New Florida Region Model A Restorers Club of Tampa. You can get your tickets now from selected local merchants including Blue Moon, Casa Nova, The Garden Party, Magnolia, and A Source for the Home for $20.00. Or on the day of the event tickets will also be available at Kate Jackson Park for $25.00/ticket. This is a wonderful event that has raised money for many community projects and causes such as the recent restoration of VFW Post 4321 on Morrison Ave. Drive by and see how it's coming along!

Also new this year, an Inaugural Patron's Party kicks off the Tour on Friday, March 6th, at the roof garden of Seybold Lofts in Hyde Park. Mrs. Martha Ferman and Mr. R. James Robbins are chairpersons for this catered event. Patron's Party tickets are $50.00 per person, which includes admission to the Home Tour. For more information on attending this special event please call Rosemary Henderson at 253-5777 or email

Do you live in the Historic Hyde Park district? Would you like to have your house on next years Home Tour? Houses are selected based on architectual style, historic interest, and location. Visit the website for more information at
Business Spotlight
BDG Architects is the business we are putting in the spotlight! Not only have they volunteered their services to help with the VFW renovation on Morrison Ave., they also recently moved into their new offices at 1211 Franklin Street, Tampa, 33602 in the restored Arlington Building. If you don't already know BDG Architects, some of their local projects are Bella Roma, various projects at the St. Pete Times Forum, The Valencia in Hyde Park, and Belfair Park Townhomes. BDG is also in the process of designing one of Tampa's first U.S. Green Building Council LEED homes for Carlos Cisneros on Georgia Ave. in South Tampa. BDG has several LEED accredited professionals on staff and has developed a diverse portfolio of green projects. A summary of the LEED program can be viewed on their website at

" The secret of Genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm"

~ Aldous Huxley 1894 - 1963 English Writer

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Today's Tropic Topic:
Tropic Topic Author of the Day:Leigh Ann Quinlan
Turnbridge properties, Inc.

On a happier note, you can find good news in the year past - it just takes an optimistic eye.
If you look solely at real estate, paychecks and pocketbook issues, 2008 was a horrible year. So to start the year on a happier note, take a look at some trends and numbers from the year just ended. Let's hope to see more in the year ahead.
IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. The 2008 World Value Survey found that freedom of choice and tolerance - and not simply wealth- have lots to do with a rise in happiness. The world's most contented people - not the richest- are the Danes. But the Americans are in the top 20.
HAPPINESS IS CONTAGIOUS. Happiness spreads easily through family, friends and neighbors. Knowing someone who is happy makes you 15.3 percent more likely to be happy yourself.
ALMOST TWO-THIRDS of Americans meet exercise guidelines (150 minutes of moderate-intensity activities or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week).
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION rates rose in America.
DEATH RATES FROM cardiovascular disease dropped.
DEATH RATES FROM infectious disease dropped.
MORE THAN 2000 NEW medicines are being worked on for older Americans.
THE JOURNAL OF THE NATIONAL Cancer Institute noted that, for the first time since its annual report in 1998, both incidence and death reates for all cancers combined are decreasing for both men and women.
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY built its 300,000th house.
AMERICANS ADOPTED more than 17,000 children from abroad.
WHAT HAPPY PEOPLE DO. The happiest people were more socially active, attended more religious services, voted more and read more newspapers.
DEATHS ON AMERICAN HIGHWAYS were way down, both because of safety advances and fewer miles driven. Final numbers are not in, but through the end of October put the year on track to have the lowest number in the 42 years that records have been kept. YOUR EMOTIONAL STATE depends not just on actions and choices that you make, but also on actions and choices of other people, many of which you don't even know.
AND FINALLY THIS: From 1980 until 2006(the last year measured), Americans actually became happier.

Sources: 2008 World Value Survey, America's health Rankings/United Health Foundation, Florida Department of Health, Habitat for Humanity, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, US State Department, Times researcher Shirl Kennedy, Times editor Jim Verhulst.