As a Realtor and a constituent, I can assure you that the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit has definitely been a success. Homebuyer interest and housing sales increased almost as soon as the ink was dry on the tax credit legislation. Today's lower prices and interest rates appeal to consumers, but it's been the tax credit that has attracted people to open houses and to homeownership.
That progress could grind to a halt sooner than you think. Congress must act NOW to extend the credit through 2010. Otherwise, uncertainty will return and the market might again be frozen -- possibly as soon as October.
A homebuyer is eligible for the tax credit only if the home is "purchased" before December 1, 2009. That means that buyers have to find a house, complete a contract, satisfy any contingencies, secure financing and go to closing by November 30. Accomplishing those tasks by November 30 will become more difficult with every passing day. In today's market, it generally takes between 45 and 60 days to go from contract to closing.
The market has improved, but it has not yet fully corrected itself. The credit needs to be extended for an additional period of time and expanded in order to build upon the progress that's been made. Uncertainty about the future of the credit will dampen consumer demand. The best way to assure continued housing activity is to extend and expand the credit and to do that NOW.
We can't wait until late in the year to see what happens. Consumers will drop out soon if they can't predict what's in their future. Please act NOW to extend and expand the credit through 2010.