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Nearly 1.5 Million people have taken advantage of the $8,000 tax rebate since it’s conception in January 2009. The tax credit has been available to all first time home buyers. The first time home buyer is defined as anyone who has now owned their own home for three consecutive years. Oh, one more criteria for eligibility… It must be for your primary residence which is unfortunate for investors. The credit is in the form of a tax rebate for 10% of the purchase price of the home, up to a total of $8,000. One of the great benefits of the tax rebate is that is FULLY refundable to the buyer. For instance if the first time home buyer owed no taxes on their taxes, then the first time home buyer can ammend their tax return and capture the full $8,000.

The tax rebate has helped improve the national home sales. The current tax rebate is set to expire on November 30, 2009.  This means that the purchase must be fully closed and completed in order to qualify. It typically takes approximately 30 days to close on a home transaction with conventional bank financing. The point is that in order to be confident your purchase will qualify you should plan to be under contract to purchase your home by November 1, 2009. If you are trying to capture the $8,000 tax rebate and have not yet put your home under contract or you dont qualify for conventional financing then you need to consider finding an alternate approach. One alternate approach is to find seller financing. If the seller is providing the financing and you do not need to wait the typical 30 days for bank financing, then you can still close by December 1, 2009 without many challenges.

What about the possibility of extending the rebate past December 1, 2009?   There are currently several bills  in Congress that would allow the extension. Each of the bills in Congress provide alternate solutions toward the extension. Of course there is a lot of politics involved in completing the extension, from all poitical parties. Here is a brief summary of the extensions:

S1230:  Senator Johnny Isakson  introduced Senate Bill 1230 in June.  The Bill proposes a tax credit up to $15,000 that can be split over 2 year for everyone who purchases a home for their personal residence.

HR 2619:    This one  proposes to extend the existing $8,000 tax credit to July 1, 2010 and adds provisions for a tax credit of up to $3,000 for homeowners who refinance.  This would certainly create a ton of refinanes.  Is this part of the recent mortgage issue?  Many Americans seem to use their home equity as an ATM machine, pulling it out and spending it.  I guess that would potentially help spur the ecomony in the short term.

HR 2801 – Similar to S1230 but it extends benefits to January 1, 2011.

Several key politicians are publicly making comments about getting the extension approved by early November.  Those making positive comments include Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus.  They are hoping to extend the rebate along with unemployment benefits at the same time. 

One thing for sure is our current Government is committed to spending an unlimited amount to try and stimulate our ecomony.  Our Leaders appear to be committed to short term gains at the expense of future generations.  That said, extending the first time home buyer credit will certainly help encourage American’s to own their own home. 

What do you think?  Should the first time home buyers credit be extended?  Why or Why Not?  What are the short term benefits and long liabilities associated with this extension?  I would like to hear your viewpoints so please leave some comments.

Jim Ingersoll

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