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SILVAR will be offering the class CRS 200: Business and Marketing for the Residential Specialist on February 12 and 13, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at SILVAR. REALTORS® who take this two-day course can earn 16 education credits toward a Certified Residential Specialist® designation. This course also can count as an elective toward a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation.

SILVAR is offering an early bird registration price of $250, if you register before January 31. After January 31, cost is $300. SILVAR Class Pass and member discount applies. Members may call SILVAR at (408) 200-0100 for details.

The CRS 200 course will be taught by Mark Given, a certified instructor for The Council of Residential Specialists (CRS). Given is a Ninja Selling Master Instructor, and has been a GRI Instructor for many states. He is author of the CRS elective “Going Green” course. He has served as a keynote speaker for private companies and state conventions, taught at the National Association of REALTORS® Convention and Mid-year meetings and is a practicing REALTOR® in Roanoke Rapids, NC.

The Certified Residential Specialist® (CRS) is the professional designation offered by the Council of Residential Specialists. The highest designation awarded to sales associates in the residential sales field, the CRS designation recognizes professional accomplishments in both experience and education.

With the CRS designation, you will be able to:
• Differentiate yourself as part of an elite group (3 percent of all REALTORS® hold the CRS designation).
• Increase your earning potential.
• Take advantage of a strong referral network.
• Attend specialized conferences and meetings.
• Have access to current industry news and information.

Since 1977, the Council of Residential Specialists has been conferring the CRS designation on agents who meet its stringent requirements. In 2010, CRS Designees earned nearly three times more than those REALTORS® who serve as sales agents.

To find out more about earning a CRS designation, visit https://crs.com/

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On January 1 both the U.S. Senate and House passed H.R. 8 legislation to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The bill was signed by President Barack Obama.

Below is a National Association of REALTORS® summary of real estate related provisions in the bill:

Real Estate Tax Extenders
• Mortgage Cancellation Relief is extended for one year to Jan. 1, 2014.

• Deduction for Mortgage Insurance Premiums for filers making below $110,000 is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.

• 15-year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements on commercial properties is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.

• 10 percent tax credit (up to $500) for homeowners for energy improvements to existing homes is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.

Permanent Repeal of Pease Limitations for 99% of Taxpayers
Under the agreement, so called “Pease Limitations” that reduce the value of itemized deductions are permanently repealed for most taxpayers but will be reinstituted for high income filers. These limitations will only apply to individuals earning more than $250,000 and joint filers earning above $300,000. These thresholds have been increased and are indexed for inflation and will rise over time. Under the formula, the amount of adjusted gross income above the threshold is multiplied by three percent. That amount is then used to reduce the total value of the filer’s itemized deductions. The total amount of reduction cannot exceed 80 percent of the filer’s itemized deductions.

These limits were first enacted in 1990 (named for the Ohio Congressman Don Pease who came up with the idea) and continued throughout the Clinton years. They were gradually phased out as a result of the 2001 tax cuts and were completely eliminated in 2010-2012. Had we gone over the fiscal cliff, Pease limitations would have been reinstituted on all filers starting at $174,450 of adjusted gross income.

Capital Gains
Capital Gains rate stays at 15 percent for those in the top rate of $400,000 (individual) and $450,000 (joint) return. After that, any gains above those amounts will be taxed at 20 percent. The $250,000/$500,000 exclusion for sale of principle residence remains in place.

Estate Tax
The first $5 million dollars in individual estates and $10 million for family estates are now exempted from the estate tax. After that the rate will be 40 percent, up from 35 percent. The exemption amounts are indexed for inflation.

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