The popular first-time homebuyer tax credit that was scheduled to end this month is being extended. President Obama signed a bill that extends the up to $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers for seven months. An additional incentive for the housing industry is for homeowners. The $6,500 tax credit will benefit some existing homeowners who are also buyers and whose primary residence has been owned, used, sold, or being sold within at least five consecutive years of the previous eight years. The legislation is part of a bill that also extends unemployment benefits.
Bruce Walker, Director of Marketing, RealEstate.com Reportedly, the credit would be available for people earning up to $125,000 a year and couples making up to $225,000 per year. This is an increase from the current income limits of $75,000 and $150,000, respectively. The extension of the first-time homebuyer credit lasts through June of next year. Buyers must sign a contract by the end of April 2010.
The incentives come at a good time for the housing industry. "We're getting into a historically slow time of year. You have the holidays and folks just aren't in the market to buy a home. I think now, you're going see a little bit more interest and we may see some upticks through the end of the year that could carry some momentum into the first part of the year which is traditionally the heaviest homebuying season," says Walker.
He believes these incentives will not only cause more homes to sell but will also have an impact on related industries. "I think one of the areas that will get a secondary benefit is going to be the home improvement industry. When someone buys a home they will often put additional work into it to make it their own. They'll paint, put up wallpaper, and hang current rods. They may clean floors -- so that home improvement sector is going to see, I believe, a secondary lift as well," explains Walker. What this means to consumers? "When they see that home prices have dropped, there's going to be fear in the market and people are going to wait to see other people get involved -- get back into the market. So, as consumers are pushed off the fence with these incentives I think we will see a strengthening of the housing market as a direct result and people are going to get re-engaged," says Walker.
But some wonder are the incentives a risk that will cause homeowners to later default? "People have been skeptical of the economy for the last year or longer," says Walker.
Economists with the National Association of Realtors estimate that approximately 2 million people will take advantage of the tax credit this year.