Tax Credit Extended

Lola and meYeah

a REMAX logo Senators agreed Wednesday to extend a popular tax credit for first-time homebuyers and to offer a reduced credit to some repeat buyers. The tax credit provides up to $8,000 to first-time homebuyers but is set to expire at the end of November. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new home sales fell 3.6 percent in September, and some industry representatives blamed uncertainty about the tax credit. Senators agreed to extend the existing tax credit for first-time homebuyers while offering a reduced credit of up to $6,500 to repeat buyers who have owned their current homes for at least five years, said Regan Lachapelle, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. The tax credits would be available to homebuyers who sign sales agreements by the end of April. They would have until the end of June to close on their new homes, according to a summary of the legislation being circulated among lawmakers. House leaders have said they support extending the tax credit for homebuyers. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., has been negotiating for several weeks with Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., to craft an extended tax credit for homebuyers that would pass the Senate. Lawmakers didn’t release a cost estimate for extending the tax credit, though similar proposals were projected to cost about $10 billion. Industry representatives said uncertainty about the tax credit is hurting new home sales. September’s decline was the first since March. It takes 45 days to 60 days to close on a house, making it unlikely a sale made today would be consummated by the end of November, said Lucien Salvant, spokesman for the National Association of Realtors. “Buyers right now have an incentive to hold off, not knowing whether the credit will be extended,” Salvant said. About 1.4 million first-time homebuyers have qualified for the credit through August. The National Association of Realtors estimates that 350,000 of them would not have purchased their homes without the credit.

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