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SNOW SELLS, IN SOME WAYS

Thanks to the recent winter storms, many homes are being shown under a blanket of snow. Sellers are always hearing about how winter is not the best time to show a house - but sometimes, it can prove to work in their favor:

*Homes with lots of windows offer sweeping views and light when surrounded by all the white stuff.

*Ponds and hilly property can be marketed as a great place for winter sports, such as sledding and cross-country skiing.

*When lit, houses with fireplaces can add a warm cozy feel. - CATHY MAHON


TAX CREDIT'S IMPACT SEEN

Month by month, home sales and contract numbers point to the impact of last year's federal home buyer tax credit, as new data from the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island show. To claim up to $8,000, buyers had to sign contracts by midnight April 30, and, when the June 30 closing deadline neared, it was stretched to Sept. 30.

The number of contracts each month last year exceeded those of a year earlier until the tax credit's first deadline passed in April. There were 3,083 contracts signed on Long Island in April, up 72 percent from 1,796 in April 2009.

From May 2010 on, contracts dropped by as much as 39 percent from 2009, figures show.

On closings, the first half of 2010 exceeded the previous year's activity, but then dropped for the rest of the year.


KEEPING LENDING BIAS-FREE

Federal officials proposed new rules last week aimed at keeping lending and housing programs open to people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Under the proposals from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, lenders would be barred from using such "irrelevant criteria" to determine a borrower's eligibility for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration.

Also, the term "family" would be clarified to cover those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual, and such families can't be excluded from HUD programs if they're eligible, the proposals said.

The public has 60 days to comment. - ELLEN YAN

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