Industry Lobbies to Extend Buyer Tax Credit

Key organizations in the housing industry are urging Congress to increase the $8,000 home buyer credit to $15,000 and make it available to all home buyers instead of just those buying a first home.

“What is being billed as a recovery is not showing up in the cash register yet,” says Richard A. Smith, CEO of Realogy Corp. and a member of the Business Roundtable, which is orchestrating the lobbying effort.

The Roundtable’s campaign is also pushing Congress to make permanent expanded limits for loans eligible for government purchase or backing. The limit is now $729,750 in high-cost housing markets.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Nick Timiraos

Tax Credit Can Be Used for Down Payment

Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, on Tuesday said that the Federal Housing Administration is going to permit its lenders to allow home buyers to use the $8,000 tax credit as a down payment.

Previously, most buyers wouldn’t receive the funds until after they filed their tax return, and that deterred some people from using the credit. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® has been calling for the change.

“We all want to enable FHA consumers to access the home buyer tax credit funds when they close on their home loans so that the cash can be used as a down payment,” Donovan says. His remarks came in an address to several thousand REALTORS® gathered Tuesday morning at “The Real Estate Summit: Advancing the U.S. Economy,” at the 2009 REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C..

He says FHA’s approved lenders will be permitted to “monetize” the tax credit through short-term bridge loans. This will allow eligible home buyers to access the funds immediately at the closing table.

Source: NAR

Survey: Households Say Now Good Time to Buy

More than three-quarters (78 percent) of potential first-time home buyers say that now is a good time to buy a home, despite widespread concern about the economy.

Out of the 1,000 prospective U.S. first-time home buyers surveyed in early March for the CENTURY 21 First-Time Home Buyer Survey, 68 percent think now is a better time to buy than six months ago.

Prices are the driving motivation for potential first-time home buyers with more than eight of ten first-time home buyers (85 percent) saying they consider current home prices affordable and 73 percent citing that taking advantage of current prices is a major factor in their decision to buy.

Interestingly, potential first-time buyers are still split between “being willing to consider an offer now” (42 percent) and “waiting for prices to go down before they seriously consider making a purchase” (48 percent).

“Current pricing, rates and incentives, such as the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, provide tremendous opportunities for first-time home buyers to get into the market,” said Tom Kunz, Century 21 Real Estate president and CEO. “Our research shows that while consumers still have concerns about the future of the economy, many are actively considering their options as we move into the spring selling season.”

Among the survey’s other key findings:

  • Bargains in the marketplace are providing additional options for buyers to consider. 56 percent of potential first-time home buyers are considering purchasing a foreclosed or short sale home, and 63 percent are open to purchasing either a “fixer-upper” or “as-is” home.

  • When asked to rate the features that they look for when choosing a home, price is the primary consideration with 87 percent saying this feature is “very important,” followed closely by neighborhood safety (80 percent) and the condition of the home (71 percent)
  • Having enough money for a down payment is a top concern of potential first-time home buyers as nearly half (46 percent) said they are “very worried” about the issue.
  • Most respondents (86 percent) are in the market for single family homes.

Source: Century 21

Details of the $ 8,000 Purchase Incentive

This is current information comparing the previous Tax Credit and the Current First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit in place now due to the Stimulus Package signed today by the President. 
 
Stimulus Plan First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit:
The Stimulus Plan was signed into law by President Obama. It contains a new tax credit for first-time homebuyers. Essentially, first-time homebuyers within certain income limits who purchase a home in 2009 before December 1, 2009 will receive a tax credit of up to $8,000. The program is similar to the $7,500 tax credit which applied to home purchases made in 2008 after April 9. A comparison of the two credit programs is outlined below.

While the Stimulus Plan was still being debated, the Senate version originally included a $15,000 tax credit for all homebuyers. To lower the cost of the Stimulus Plan, the final version of the Plan contained this smaller tax credit, and this tax credit is applicable only to first-time homebuyers

To qualify as a first-time home buyer as defined in the programs, the purchaser (and the purchaser’s spouse) may not have owned a home in the three years prior to the purchase date of the home. Single family homes qualify for the program. The home must be the primary residence.
 
Both tax credits are subject to the same adjusted gross income limitations (full credit for AGI less than $75,000 single/$150,000 joint, phased out for AGI up to $95,000 single/ $170,000 joint).
 
The amount for either credit is the lesser of 10% of the home purchase price or $7,500 or $8,000, as applicable.
While a purchaser still owns the home, the $7,500 credit must be repaid in equal payments over a period of 15 years, starting with the 2010 tax filing. The $8,000 credit will not need to be repaid. Again, the $7,500 credit needs to be repaid, while the $8,000 credit does not!
 
Upon sale of the home, any portion of the $7,500 credit not yet repaid is due in full.  No portion of the $8,000 credit is due upon sale of the home, if the home is owned for more than three years.  If the home is sold within the first three years, the full amount of the credit is due upon sale.
 
The $7,500 credit was not available to any purchaser utilizing state/local revenue bond money to help finance the home purchase.
There is no such restriction on the $8,000 credit.
 
Under both the $7,500 and the $8,000 programs, the credit will be claimed on the purchaser’s income taxes. Any amount in excess of taxes owed will be refunded to the purchaser.
 
Additional information about the tax credit can be found on the websites of the National Association of Realtors (www.realtor.org) and the National Association of Home Builders
http://www.nahb.org .  You also may want to check out the website recovery.gov

*The above information was received from:

Jay Mitchell, Mortgage Planner FIMC . Phone: 678-413-3222/ Fax:770-929-3461. Be sure to view his website:

Jay@LoansByJay.com
www.LoansByJay.com

Home Buyer Tax Credit: How It Works

First-time homebuyers in 2008 can take an income-tax credit on their purchase, thanks to passage in Congress earlier this year of the first-time home buyer tax credit.

The definition of first-time homebuyer is generous. To get the credit, the homebuyer cannot have owned a home in the previous three years. The home must be a principal residence and purchased between April 9, 2008 and July 1, 2009.

The credit is equal to 10 percent of the purchase price, up to $7,500. Single taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income up to $75,000 and couples with MAGI up to $150,000 will qualify for full credit. Singles with MAGI up to $95,000 and couples with MAGI up to $170,000 will get a reduced amount. Those with higher incomes don’t qualify.

If the amount of tax a homebuyer owes is less than the amount of the credit, they get to keep the difference in the form of an IRS refund.

The homebuyer must begin to repay the credit in two years in increments of about $500 a year over a 15-year period for those who received the full credit

Homebuyers who sell their home before the credit is repaid must pay off the loan with any profits. If they sell the home at a loss, the loan is forgiven.

[Editor’s Note: The credit is set to expire in mid-2009, although industry groups, including the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, are encouraging Congress to extend it. NAR is also encouraging Congress to make the credit available to all buyers and to eliminate the repayment requirement. More detail on how the credit works is available from NAR on REALTOR.org.]

Source: Chicago Tribune, Mary Umberger