Saturday, February 21, 2009

Q & A about the California Tax Budget

The Mercury News posted an article online breaking down the California budget - what it all means - tax increases - spending, etc..

Q When will the "temporary" sales tax increase take effect, and when will it end?

A The 1-cent-on-the-dollar increase begins April 1, but when it ends depends on the outcome of a ballot measure calling for a cap on state spending. If the spending cap fails, the tax hike ends June 30, 2011. If the cap passes, the tax ends June 30, 2012

Q What's a spending cap?

A It's a way to force state government to limit how much money the state can spend. In this case, by using a formula that links spending to inflation and population growth, the increase in annual expenditures would be capped at about 5 percent each year.

Q What are all these ballot measures related to the budget, and when are the elections?

A There are six measures that require voter approval at a special election May 19. They seek to: implement the spending cap; require the state to increase annual education funding by $9.3 billion in future years; shift Proposition 63 mental health services money; redirect how Proposition 10 cigarette tax money is allocated; clarify education appropriations from the state lottery; and deny pay increases to lawmakers during budget deficits. A seventh measure, on the June 2010 ballot, would do away with partisan primaries, which would allow candidates for statewide and congressional seats to run for office without listing their party affiliation.

Q How much more will it cost to register my vehicle?

A Beginning May 19, the vehicle license fee rises from the current level of 0.65 percent of the value of the car to 1.15 percent of the value. The tax increase goes away by June 30, 2013.

Q And there's a tax on income tax, too?

A Yep. A 0.25 percent surcharge on personal income tax, though the increase would be cut in half if the state receives more federal stimulus funding than expected. The surcharge, for the 2009 tax year, lasts through tax year 2012 at the latest.

Q What does the budget mean for education funding?

A The Legislature slashed $8.4 billion in funding for schools and community colleges. As a result, the California Teachers Association predicts class sizes will increase, thousands of teachers could be laid off and programs will be eliminated. Funding was maintained to continue smaller class sizes in grades K-3, and school districts will have more flexibility in how they spend money geared for specific programs.

Q What about other colleges and universities?

A The University of California and California State
University systems will each suffer a 10 percent cut. Annual fees for CSU students will rise to $3,354 from the current $3,048.

Q What happens to those on welfare programs?

A CalWORKS, the welfare-to-work program, will not provide cost-of-living increases. Those who receive state and federal supplemental income, such as certain seniors or disabled recipients, also will not get an increase.

Q Will the Department of Motor Vehicles and other state offices remain closed due to state worker furloughs every two weeks?

A Yes, for now, until labor unions and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's negotiators find a way to trim $1.4 billion in payroll expenses. The next state office closing is today.

Q Is there any good news in the budget?

A Well, yes. The budget includes tax credits for businesses that invest in California, and it ensures that previously approved public works projects can continue.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The "Green-Pod" Revolution is about to begin....

Check out these eco-friendly, eco-smart dwellings! The company, GreenPod Development, is based out of Washington and is designing and constructing affordable modular homes. The pods vary in size from 300-800 sq.ft. and if you need additional square footage you can stack them together. Kinda of like legos...Brilliant!

For additional information:

$8,000 credit for first-time home buyers!!

First-time buyers can claim a credit worth $8,000 - or 10% of the home's value, whichever is less - on their 2008 or 2009 taxes.

A big plus is that the credit is refundable, meaning tax filers see a refund of the full $8,000 even if their total tax bill - the amount of witholding they paid during the year plus anything extra they had to pony up when they filed their returns - was less than that amount.

To qualify for the credit, the purchase must be made between Jan. 1, 2009 and Nov. 30, 2009. Buyers may not have owned a home for the past three years to qualify as "first time" buyer. They must also live in the house for at least three years, or they will be obligated to pay back the credit.

Additionally, there are income restrictions: To qualify, buyers must make less than $75,000 for singles or $150,000 for couples. (Higher-income buyers may receive a partial credit.)

Applying for the credit will be easy - or at least as easy as doing your income taxes. Just claim it on your return. No other forms or papers have to be filed. Taxpayers who have already completed their returns can file amended returns for 2008 to claim the credit.

Friday, February 06, 2009

2007 & 2008 Sold properties - Oakland/Emeryville

Sold comparison of 2008(column on left) and 2007 (column on right) for Oakland & Emeryville. All stats taken from MLS.

Zip Code 94603: E. Oakland
2008: 249 SOLD - 2007: 96 SOLD
Avg LP: $168,932 - Avg LP: $394,689
Avg SP: $163,010 - Avg SP: $393,760
Avg DOM: 48 - Avg DOM: 51

*DOM = days on Market *Avg LP = Average List Price
*Avg SP= Average Sold Price

Zip Code 94619: Oak. Hills, Redwood Heights,
Ridgemont, Cresmont, Skyline.
2008: 207 Sold - 2007: 204 Sold
Avg LP: $524,673 - Avg LP: 651, 094
Avg SP: $509,688 - Avg SP: 648, 056
Avg DOM: 44 - Avg DOM: 34

Zip Code 94611: Piedmont Ave, Montclair, Westlake
2008: 281 Sold - 2007: 342 Sold
Avg LP: $777,498 - Avg LP: $802,609
Avg Sp: $761,410 - Avg SP: $808,602
Avg DOM: 48 - Avg DOM: 34

Zip Code 94606: China Hill, Ridgemont, San Antonio Park
2008: 96 Sold - 2007: 76 Sold
Avg LP: $337,833 - Avg LP: $445, 916
Avg SP: $326, 428 - Avg SP: $433, 276
Avg DOM: 54 - Avg DOM: 45

Zip Code 94605: E. Oakland, Chabot Estates, King Estates,
Sequoyah Highlands
2008: 384 Sold - 2007: 283 Sold
Avg LP: $302,951 - Avg LP: $528,302
Avg SP: $295,734 - Avg SP: $521,853
Avg DOM: 56 - Avg DOM: 45

Zip Code 94608: Emeryville
2008: 82 Sold - 2007: 117 Sold
Avg LP: $397,461 - Avg LP: $459,428
Avg Sp: $386,931 - Avg SP: $448,507
Avg DOM: 57 - Avg Dom: 48

Zip Code 94608: N.Oakland (Temescal), W. Oakland
2008: 140 Sold - 2007: 139 Sold
Avg LP: $294,738 - Avg LP: $459,428
Avg SP: $286,045 - Avg SP: $448,507
Avg DOM: 50 - Avg DOM: 48

Zip Code 94705: Claremont Hills, Hiller Highlands
2008: 17 Sold - 2007: 20 Sold
Avg LP: $1,419,288 - Avg LP: $1,372,315
Avg SP; $1,379,012 - Avg SP: $1,350,865
Avg DOM: 79 - Avg DOM: 47

Zip Code 94607: Downtown, W. Oakland
2008: 103 Sold - 2007: 127 Sold
Avg LP: $322,917 - Avg LP: $434,340
Avg SP: $310,209 - Avg SP: $424,746
Avg DOM: 42 - Avg DOM: 40

Zip Code 94609: W. Oakland, N. Oakland, Temescal
2008: 27 Sold - 2007: 36 Sold
Avg LP: $436,911 - Avg LP: $534,388
Avg SP: $437,107 - Avg SP: $542,535
Avg DOM: 49 - Avg DOM: 41

Zip Code 94612: Lake Merritt, Downtown, W. Oakland
2008: 116 Sold - 2007: 36 Sold
Avg LP: $424,620 - Avg LP: $448,965
Avg SP: $406,217 - Avg SP: $440,550
Avg DOM: 51 - Avg DOM: 43

Zip Code 94618: Rockridge, Hiller Highlands, Hillcrest
2008: 176 Sold - 2007: 248 Sold
Avg LP: $921,427 - Avg LP: $914,114
Avg SP: $917,663 - Avg SP: $937,640
Avg DOM: 39 - Avg DOM: 25

Zip Code 94621: E. Oakland, Eastmont, Frutivale
2008: 200 Sold - 2007: 100 Sold
Avg LP: $135,953 - Avg LP: $362,721
Avg SP: $130,292 - Avg SP: $353,707
Avg DOM: 51 - Avg DOM: 51

Zip Code 94601: Fruitvale, E. Oakland, Allendale
2008: 191 Sold - 2007: 112 Sold
Avg LP: $238,000 - Avg LP: $447,298
Avg SP: $234,810 - Avg SP: $439,880
Avg DOM: 44 - Avg DOM: 42

Zip Code 94602: Redwood Heights, Dimond, Glenview,
Joaquin Miller, Oakmore, Laurel
2008: 258 Sold - 2007: 268 Sold
Avg LP: $543,433 - Avg LP: $602,935
Avg SP: $540,834 - Avg SP: $611,637
Avg DOM: 40 - Avg DOM: 32