Thursday, September 24, 2009

$8,000 Tax Credit. Will it Expire? Does SC Real Estate Care?

From The NYT's Online Sept. 15th.

"When Congress passed an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers last winter, it was intended as a dose of shock therapy during a crisis. Now the question is becoming whether the housing market can function without it.

As many as 40 percent of all home buyers this year will qualify for the credit. It is on track to cost the government $15 billion, more than twice the amount that was projected when Congress passed the stimulus bill in February.

In the view of the real estate industry and some economists, all that money is well spent. They contend the credit is doing what it was meant to do, encouraging a recovery in the housing market that is gathering steam. Analysts say the credit is directly responsible for several hundred thousand home sales.

Skeptics argue that most of the money is going to people who would have bought a home anyway. And they contend that unless it is allowed to expire on schedule in late November, the tax credit is likely to become one more expensive government program that refuses to die.

The real estate industry, including the powerful 1.1 million-member National Association of REALTORS®, wants Congress to extend the credit at least through next summer. The group hopes to expand the program to $15,000 and to allow all buyers, not just those who have been out of the market for at least three years, to qualify. The price tag on that plan: $50 billion to $100 billion."

Two out of my ten residential sales this year were eligible for the tax credit. So for me, I am at about half of what the national average is, but we are a second home market. Will the expiration do anything to our market? It's hard to tell. If it expires, and there is a dip in national numbers, it will affect people who are getting ready to test the waters again. However I have not seen a last second rush of people trying to buy something before the end of November.

I guess we will see. I think overall it was good for the housing market. Both of my "first time" buyers would have bought anyway, but the credit enabled them to look in a higher range.

NAR is feverishly trying to get the plan extended, so in their eyes it has helped the agents and brokers nationwide. Well lets see...if they are estimating five million home sales this year. Forty percent is two million. Times that by $8,000, you get 16 billion--the amount the tax credit cost the tax payer. Now take 5% of that) the national average of a real estate commission). That comes to 80 million (very roughly) in real estate commissions. I guess we can see why NAR wants this so badly. That is a healthy chunk of change.

Again locally, I don't think it is going to make much of a difference, but we'll see.

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