Archive for March, 2011

IRS Agent One Of Fourteen People Arrested For Tax Fraud

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Yet another lesson in not messing with the Tax Man…..

According to US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, fourteen people – including an employee of the Internal Revenue Service – have been charged with using the first-time homebuyers government credit to commit tax fraud.

Mostly from Massachusetts, the defendants were charged in multiple indictments all related to filing false tax returns linked to the federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers.

The IRS agent charged in the case, 44-year-old Michael Doyle, is from New Hampshire and is accused of falsely claiming that he purchased a home in 2008 so that he would qualify for the credit, when in reality he actually bought the property in 2007.

An official with the IRS could not say whether or not Michael Doyle still has his job, and Doyle could not be reached for comment.

The other defendants include Junior Lopez of Southbridge, and Christopher Proe of Michigan, who allegedly filed more than 50 fraudulent tax returns. According to prosecutors, they received about $500,000 in refunds.

Like Michael Doyle, neither Lopez nor Proe could be reached for comment.

In a prepared statement, Ortiz said, “It is critically important that taxpayers who play by the rules do not end up paying for refunds to people who commit fraud and blatantly lie on the forms submitted to the IRS.”

J. Russell George, the Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, added in his own statement that it is “especially troubling” when an IRS agent is implicated in a fraud case. “Congress created and modified the home buyer credit to stimulate and help taxpayers achieve the America Dream, not to line the pockets of wrongdoers,” he said.

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Bay Area Housing Market Still Weak – Short Sales Account For Half Of Transactions

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

MDA DataQuick reported Thursday that Silicon Valley’s housing market continued to be weak in February, with resale home transactions in Santa Clara County practically flat; the median home price is at $495,000, down 3% from February of last year.

The report is reflective of sales trends throughout the Bay Area, where sales dropped 0.4% from last year, and the median home price dropped 4.1% to $355,000.

Distress sales — foreclosures and “short sales” for less than the value of the mortgage on a home — were just over half of transactions in the Bay Area, DataQuick reported. Cash buyers accounted for 30.9 percent of Bay Area home sold, the highest level since DataQuick began keeping track of the market in 1988.

Please Note: DataQuick’s report is based on transactions reported to county governments.

DataQuick’s president, John Walsh, warns the public not to rely on the report as an indicator of what the market’s strength will be for the rest of the year. If the economy continues to improve, Walsh says, the market could bounce back in the spring and summer.

John Walsh notes, however, that “sales over the past two months certainly underscore the market’s reliance on investor and cash purchases at a time many potential buyers hesitated to act.”

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

bay area housing market february 2011

Title Insurance and You: Do You Need to Pay for It?

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Many people who don’t completely understand the what title insurance actually is might question this item when the closing costs are added up. It is, however, a very important thing to have. As the name implies, the function of this kind of insurance is to ensure the integrity of the title to your home at the time its title legally passes to you as the buyer. Title insurance is designed to protect you in case there are problems or unknown legal complications tied to the title on the property which were caused by the actions or failures of previous owners.

In other words, title insurance ensures that that your ownership rights to your home are protected from any kind of liability arising time before you bought. This is an insurance policy which insures the “before” period of home ownership, unlike ordinary homeowner policies, which cover the “after” period.

After you complete the purchase of your home, if it were to come to light that there had been a tax or mechanic’s lien on it, title insurance would keep you from a disastrous financial loss from the circumstance.

It is all too common that someone will purchase a property and then discover that it has an encumbrance against it because of something that happened with a previous owner. You surely do not want to find yourself coping with such a situation without having the security of a good title insurance policy. Uninsured, you would have been exposed to a financial liability, which could amount to anything from a petty annoyance up to a big debt leading to loss of the property.

Title insurance covers homeowners against any disputes that come up from situations related to the title of your home before you purchased it. For example, if you buy a home that was sold to you in as part of a scam or swindle with illegal documents, the title insurance policy would cover you against any loss you might incur as a result. If any disputes were to arise regarding the chain of ownership of the property you have just bought, your title insurance policy would give you the coverage you need in that situation.

What Title Insurance Is Not

It is not protection against things you might do to jeopardize your ownership. It is strictly limited to ensuring that you have a clear title to the home at the time that title transfers. If you fail to pay the property taxes and a lien is filed, you will still have to take settle the debt yourself. Title insurance will not give you any protection that.

As one last reminder, title insurance does not cover anything related to the belongings or the structure of the property. You also need to take positive steps to insure your home against perils such as fire, theft, and natural disasters with a good homeowners policy. When you purchase your home, both title insurance and homeowners insurance provide different kinds of coverage, and you most certainly must have both of them.

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who pays for title insurance