The Senate on Thursday afternoon approved a two-month extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), an action that was made possible by an agreement Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made to take up a longer-term five-year reauthorization when the Senate returns from the Memorial Day break. The Senate approved the extension by unanimous consent, after Reid declared, “If it were to expire … real estate transactions would come to a screaming halt. Taxpayers would be on the hook for future disasters. This is something we have no choice, we have to get it done.” The bill still needs to pass the House. C
Crazy, who has time to go back in session and call for another vote when the reality is…. there are entire metropolitan cities in the U.S. that need flood insurance to go to an Act of Sale. Almost all of the southern states, and now some parts of Iowa, Ill, the Dakota’s, Missouri and Georgia.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released new, stricter guidelines for assessing lead poisoning in children.The guidelines lower the amount of lead in the blood that’s considered “acceptable,” from 10 micrograms of per deciliter to less than 5 micrograms. The number of at-risk children jumps from about 77,000 to more than 440,000 nationwide. There’s no cure for lead poisoning, you’ve got to prevent it from happening in the first place. The CDC emphasizes parental vigilance as the best preventative. 90% of lead contamination comes from flaking and peeling paint on houses built before 1978. Anyone with a home built before 1978 should be alerted to the possibility of lead paint. Renovations on older homes also contribute to contamination, as does contaminated well water. Even garden hoses have been found with lead.
Other simple prevention steps you can take: 1.) Keep surfaces clean. Lead paint dust from deteriorating houses can travel long distances, so being in a new neighborhood doesn’t guarantee safety. Wet-mop floors and wipe windowsills. Leave shoes at your entry door to keep from tracking dust through the house. 2.) Keep kids’ play areas and veggie gardens away from eave lines around houses and garages where roof runoff that contains lead dust may spill. 3.) Wash kids’ hands frequently, especially before eating. Teach youngsters not to put anything in their mouths. The CDC recommends that every child under the age of 2 be tested for lead. Exposure is particularly dangerous for children under 6 because their brains are developing. Elevated lead levels can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, seizures, and even death. (Houselogic 5/23/12)
Some real estate investors have new loan options for the first time in years. The details: In recent years, small landlords like me have had a tough time finding a bank to finance more rental property purchases. Once you had more than four rental property loans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were no longer willing to guarantee your loans, even when your credit scores were top-notch and the property was able to turn a profit from day one of ownership.
Now, some banks participating in the HARP program are taking applications from landlords with multiple properties and lots of mortgages. HSBC recently agreed to look at a mortgage on a property I own in Baltimore. My current interest rate there is over 7% and if I get the HARP refinance it will fall to 4.6%.
Every month the White House conducts an African American Outreach Update Call. During this month’s call you can find out about the Presidents call to Congress on a To Do List for Jobs and The Summer Jobs Plus Initiative for Youth.
Date: Tuesday, 5/22/12 at 6:00 p.m. EDT
Call-in number: (800) 230-1092
Title: White House Update Call
If you plan on participating in the call, please RSVP at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/webform/african-american-outreach-monthly-update-call.
You can also follow Director of the Office of Public Engagement Jon Carson on Twitter @JonCarson44.
…at the Civil Right Awards dinner honoring him I’m Washington DC 5/15/12. We need more like him, people willing to carry the mantle.
The nation’s racial and ethnic minority groups—especially Hispanics—are growing more rapidly than the non-Hispanic white population. Minorities accounted for 93.3% of the nation’s population growth from April 1, 2010 (Census day) to July 1, 2011, according to Census Bureau data released today. The Census Bureau’s announcement today that non-Hispanic whites now account for a minority of births in the U.S. for the first time. Rising rates of intermarriage explain some of the trend. I love it! How will you be able to hate your brother when he will look just like you?
For the 2012 tax year, you can take a tax deduction on medically necessary home improvements — like installing a wheelchair ramp and other projects that make life easier for an ill or injured family member — if you: Itemize deductions and spend more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income on the upgrades. Starting in 2013, if you’re under age 65, you can’t take the tax deduction on medical expenses until you spend 10% of your AGI. But if you’re 65 or older in 2013, you can stick with the 7.5% AGI tax deduction threshold through the end of 2016.
The rules for tax deductions on medical home improvements are tricky:
1. Start with what it costs to modify your home.
2. Subtract the value the upgrades add to your home.
3. What’s leftover is your tax deduction — if you meet your AGI threshold.
How it works: Say you’re 45 years old and spend $20,000 to put a bathroom on the first floor of your home because your husband can’t climb stairs anymore. Your AGI is $100,000. A REALTOR® says the bathroom adds $10,000 to the value of your house.
The National Flood Insurance Program is set to expire on May 31st. Since 2008, there have been 17 short-term extensions, and twice authority has been allowed to expire, delaying or cancelling 1,300 real estate transactions each day, according to NAR research. During the June 2010 lapse, NAR survey data estimate that more than 40,000 home sales were stalled. We are urging our Congress to pass a long term extension for the NFIP before May 31st. Call to Action may be sent out encouraging you to do the same. Please keep an eye out and act when called to do so.
According to research, the most productive workday is Tuesday and the least productive is Friday
Today, Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would have prevented interest rates on student loans from doubling at the end of June.
In a statement to reporters, Press Secretary Jay Carney expressed his dissatisfaction with the vote:
It is extremely disappointing that Republicans in the Senate today voted to ask millions of students to pay an average of $1,000 each in order to protect a loophole that allows millionaires to dodge payroll taxes. On July 1, more than 7.4 million students across the country will see their interest rates double unless Congress acts. We’re pleased that despite failing to address it in their budget, Republicans in Congress now profess to be concerned about this coming rate hike. But now it’s time for them to stop refighting old political battles and prove they’re serious by proposing a real solution to keep rates low for students without burdening middle class families or undercutting preventive health care for women. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to prevent rates from doubling and ensure that students continue to get a fair shot at an affordable education.