Oro Valley Listed as #8 Safest Suburb

iion_logoA recent article on movoto.com listed Oro Valley among the “Top 10 Safest Suburbs.” Coming in at #8 on the list, Oro Valley can add this distinction to its growing list of awards and recognitions. The criteria used by movoto.com was first to compile a list of 120 places which are suburbs of the 50 most populous cities in the country. From there they obtained statistics from the FBI’s most recent national crime report from 2012 in the following categories:

  • Property crimes per capita (burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft)
  • violent crimes per capita (murders, robberies, aggravated assaults)
  • The chances of being a victim of a crime
  • The statistics were then weighted so that violent crime accounted for 50% of each suburb’s final score. Oro Valley proved to be the sixth-safest suburb in violent crimes per capita. In terms of property crime it ranked 19th-safest and 15th-safest in the chances of being a victim of crime. Overall this goes to show the efforts Oro Valley Police have done to deter criminal activity. No city or town can complete eradicate crime, but with only 700 crimes reported in 2012, Oro Valley is among the safer suburbs of a major city according to these results.

    Fannie & Freddie Close to Paying Back

    It’s expected that later this month when their earnings are shared Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac will have paid back more than the $187 billion they received starting in 2008 as part of a government bailout. The last few years these mortgage giants have been making enormous profits and the government has been the primary beneficiary of that good fortune. Since receiving the bailout money the companies had been paying a 10% dividend on the preferred stock held by the Treasury. However, last year Fannie & Freddie began turning over all the profits to the government each quarter and that resulted in $130 billion alone last year.

    While 2013 was a banner year for the companies, unless there is a substantial downturn in the economy these profits are expected to continue for quite some time each quarter. That bodes well for the government although there is litigation pending from other shareholders in the company which are challenging the repayment schedule. Regardless of the end result of these lawsuits the government has been helpful in keeping these companies viable and should reap some rewards themselves now.

    State of the Market Housing Report

    Updated Housing Report Web ImageAnother special Housing Report has just been released that encompasses a broad look at the “State of the Market”. This valuable resource provides a macro view of the housing markets in Arizona as it looks back on 2013 statistics and forecasts what we’re likely to see in the months ahead in 2014. The report delves into more than just housing specific figures but also takes a look at job growth in Arizona which does directly impact the viability of our marketplace. Enjoy your look at this valuable resource and contact Team Woodall with any question you may have about the report or for more detailed information about a specific area.

    CLICK HERE FOR THE “STATE OF THE MARKET” HOUSING REPORT

    What You Should Know About Your Home and Your 2013 Taxes

    This article below shares a few helpful tips about preparing your taxes for 2013 that may apply to some homeowners.

    What You Should Know About Your Home and Your 2013 Taxes
    By: Dona DeZube

    It’s the last year for three sweet home tax benefits, but the first for a way simpler home office deduction. These days few things start a fight on Capitol Hill faster than taxes. Despite the fact that three important tax benefits used by millions of American homeowners are days from expiring, Congress is unlikely to do anything to re-up them any time soon. So if you’re eligible, tax year 2013 is possibly the last time to claim the private mortgage insurance (PMI) deduction, the energy tax credit, and debt forgiveness benefit, all of which all expire on Dec. 31, 2013. At least there’s one piece of good news for homeowners: If you have a home office, there’s a new, simpler option for calculating the home office deduction for which you may qualify on your 2013 taxes.

    Meanwhile, here’s what you need to know about those expiring benefits as you ready your taxes:

    PMI Deduction

    This tax rule lets you deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance, which is what you pay your lender each month if you put down less than 20% on a home. PMI protects the lender if you default on the home loan. Your deduction could amount to a couple hundred dollars depending on your tax bracket and other factors. Find out if you qualify for and how to take the PMI deduction.

    Energy-Efficiency Upgrades

    This sweet little tax credit lets you offset what you owe the IRS dollar-for-dollar for up to 10% of the amount you spent on certain home energy-efficiency upgrades, from insulation to water heaters. On the downside, the credit is capped at $500 (less in some cases). But on the bright side, the right improvement could lower your utility bills indefinitely.

    Debt Forgiveness

    When you go through a short sale, foreclosure, or deed-in-lieu, your lender typically lets you off the hook for some or all of what you owe on your mortgage. That forgiven mortgage debt is income, on which you’d typically have to pay income tax. Suppose you’re in financial distress and your lender agrees to let you short-sell your home, say for $50,000 less than you owe on the mortgage, and forgive you for the balance. Without the protection of the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, you’ll owe income tax on that $50,000. It’s likely if you had the money to pay income tax on $50,000, you’d have used it to pay your mortgage in the first place.

    New Simplified Option for the Home Office Deduction

    This may be the last year for the benefits above, but a new one kicks in for the 2013 tax year. If you work from home, you may qualify to use a new, simplified option for claiming the home office deduction when you file your 2013 taxes. How much simpler is it? It lets you claim $5 per sq. ft. for up to 300 sq. ft. instead of having to compute the actual expenses of your home office using a 43-line form. To calculate the square footage of your office, just multiply the length of two walls. For example, an 8-by-10-foot room is 80 sq. ft. And at $5 per, that’s $400.

    Although using the simplified option is obviously easier, the basic requirements for claiming the home office deduction haven’t changed. Your home office still must be used for business purposes:
    Exclusively, and
    On a regular basis.

    Why Might the Tax Benefits Not Be Renewed?

    Although the expiring tax benefits were renewed retroactively in past years, that may not happen in 2014 because many in Congress would like to see comprehensive tax reform rather than scattershot renewals of individual provisions. This could delay a decision on the homeownership tax benefits until the big picture budget and tax issues are resolved.

    So if you can, enjoy them now!

    Oro Valley General Plan Amendments

    Last month there were a few general plan amendments in front of the Oro Valley Town Council that would have changed the allowable end use product for several undeveloped parcels. The Miller Ranch parcel near Tangerine & La Canada was continued but the other two parcels located within Rancho Vistoso geographic area came to a vote.

    Approved by a 7-0 vote was the 39 acre “Olson Property” located just north of Moore Rd. and east of La Canada. This general plan amendments allows the formally Low Density Residential parcel to become a Medium Density Residential piece. This density is very similar to the surrounding neighborhoods and will provide the town with revenue from building permits and impact fees. Currently this parcel is not within the Rancho Vistoso master-planned community but the intention is that it would be annexed into the Association.

    The second more contentious application was changing an 18 acre Neighborhood Commercial parcel located on the NW corner of Rancho Vistoso Boulevard and Vistoso Highlands Drive to Medium Density Residential. When finally put to a vote the majority favored it by 4-3 but in order for the general plan amendment to pass a vote of 5-2 was needed. Therefore, this parcel will remain as a Neighborhood Commercial property, although it’s unlikely any development will occur at this location in the near future.

    The recovery of the housing market and some shortage of inventory has led to a surge of new construction again in the Oro Valley area. Owners of undeveloped land are looking to capitalize on this builder interest. The most desired zoning for production builders is typically Medium Density Residential so anyone with zoning less dense than that or with some commercial application has been looking to modify the zoning to make their parcels more attractive given current building conditions. The Town Council has approved some of these and denied others as was seen in this last case.

    Further Improved Housing Stats Released

    December '13 Updated Housing Report Web ImageThe extremely popular Long Realty Housing Reports received a major facelift and feature improvement a couple months back. Well Long Realty didn’t stop with those changes and has continued to modify the new format to make sure it’s as useful as possible. Based upon substantial feedback from agents and clients this month’s reports have increased usage of graphs and a more printer friendly layout. This dedication to make the best reports in the Tucson marketplace even better is yet another example of why Long continues to lead the Tucson real estate market. Click here to view the December Housing Reports.

    Arizona Theatre Company

    logo_atcThose seeking a fun evening of entertainment in Tucson should absolutely look into the productions at the Arizona Theatre Company. Located in downtown Tucson on Scott just south of Broadway, the Arizona Theatre occupies a historic Spanish Colonial style building that was originally constructed in 1927 and has been exquisitely rehabilitated. The intimate nature of the theatre is ideal, never feeling too small or too large for the production. All of the 627 seats in the theatre are no more than 66 feet from the stage, ensuring excellent views of all the action. With the revitalization of downtown Tucson you can enjoy dinner and drinks before the show or on-site is The Temple Lounge which offers some light dining options.

    _wcard-XANACurrently showing at the Arizona Theatre is “Xanadu”, a hilarious musical spoof of the classic film. Centered around the character Kira, a Greek muse, the play takes shape as she sets out to inspire a young artist who’s downtrodden about his lot in life. The hilarity ensues from there with the entire cast putting on an energetic performance that captures the audience and had them laughing from the start. The cast, costumes, music, and set will transport you back to the early 1980’s to enjoy the magic that is roller disco. The pacing of the production is ideal too and doesn’t stall throughout any portion. Afterwards you’re sure to hear many comments from fellow patrons about what an amazing production it was and how much fun it was to attend. This is certainly a “can’t miss” musical comedy. Additional productions are scheduled for the season through April.

    For tickets contact the Arizona Theatre Company at (520) 622-2823 or visit their website at www.ArizonaTheatre.org.

    FHA Limit Decreased for Pima County

    A number of changes have taken place recently with FHA loans and another one is coming in 2014 for buyers in Pima County. Beginning with new case numbers issued after January 1, 2014 the maximum loan limit for an FHA loan within Pima County will be $271,050. This is a reduction of $45,200 from the previous maximum of $316,250. That relatively large reduction means fewer buyers will have FHA loans as options for their purchases. As fees have increased recently for FHA loans and with the mortgage insurance being for the life of the loan FHA loans have grown increasingly less attractive over the past couple years. This lower loan limit change will continue that trend and buyers will have to look at conventional loans or other options to fill the gap. As the housing market continues to improve the government assistance and intervention programs will very likely begin lessening.

    Early December Interest Rate Update

    Up ArrowInterest rates are starting to edge up again but are still at very attractive levels. In fact, according to Freddie Mac’s press release last week the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.29% with an average of 0.7 point. This was up from the previous week when it averaged 4.22%. For some long-term perspective though the same mortgage averaged 3.32% a year ago. On a $250,000 loan that’s a difference of $138.07 per month. Rates are likely to be at least that much higher a year from now too.

    One loan type that’s seen some resurgence is the jumbo loan. Jumbo loans are loans over $417,000 and can have additional classifications the higher the loan amount goes. Rates on jumbo loans have actually dropped below those of conventional loans in many instances which is quite a change from the usual. In other interest rate news from Freddie Mac the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.30% this week with an average 0.7 point, which is up from last week when it averaged 3.27%. Finally the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.94% this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.95%. Adjustable rates are not as popular today but can still be an option under the right circumstances.

    As always contact Team Woodall for more information and we’ll put you in touch with one of our lenders that we rely upon to provide our clients with exceptional service and competitive rates.

    Tucson Among Best Places for Millenials

    Tucson finds itself among many “Best Of” lists and can now claim another as it was recently ranked #14 on Vocativ’s “The 35 Best US Cities for People 35 and Under” (Millenials). Now this particular distinction must be somewhat tempered when the authors call their study a “semi-exhaustive, mostly scientific” endeavor. However, truthfully most of these “Best Of” are pretty subjective anyway so we’ll take the distinction and head on down the road. This particular study focused on the Top 50 most populous cities as determined by the 2010 census.

    Among the individual categories that Tucson ranked highly in were:

    Average Rent for Apartment (#6)
    Cost of Internet (#6)
    Green Commuter Index (#8)
    Young Single Population (#9)
    Cost of Gallon of Gas (#11)
    Cost of an Ounce of High-Quality Marijuana (#14) – Yes, this is a real category.
    Median Age (#15)

    Here’s a link to the full article: http://www.vocativ.com/11-2013/livability/#Tucson