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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Senate Likely to Extend $8,000 Home-Buyer Tax Credit

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has proposed a new version of a popular home-buyer tax-credit extension. Folks close to the matter claim a vote on the proposal is coming shortly.

Another recent Senate alternative would continue the $8,000 credit for four months and then gradually phase it out after that. Current law has the credit expiring at the end of November.

The value of the credit would drop by $2,000 every quarter until it halted completely by the end of 2010.

The National Association of Realtors supports the extension of the credit though at least the first two quarters of 2010 to assure that recent new home sales is firmly on a recovery track. They claim that home-buying activity in that six-month period could be crucial for new stability in the housing market again.

On the contrary, the Reid proposal wouldn't be nearly as effective at stimulating home sales, Mr. Salvant said, because it would start winding down during the second quarter.

The debate comes as a Treasury auditor revealed this week that the Internal Revenue Service improperly issued millions of refunds related to the credit.

At a House panel hearing this week, an IRS official said it is reviewing 100,000 returns to determine if credits were paid appropriately. Given the popularity of the credit, however, experts say the allegations are unlikely to derail the push to extend it in some form.

Spurred on by the credit home sales have been recovering nicely in the past six months. On Friday home sales were report to jump significantly in September. Existing home sales rose 9.4 percent. The West was the strongest region, up 13.0 percent. In an extremely encouraging sign, supply on the market fell back sharply -- down 7.5 percent in the month. Supply is now at its lowest level in 2-1/2 years.

Q3 earnings continue to impress, major firms are surprising to the upside, and markets are continuing their break-neck bounce. With second half growth coming on strong, an extension of the tax credit can mean nothing but good news for the 2010 housing market.

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