4 Questions (and answers!) About the Homebuyer's Tax Credit

Somethings in Real Estate can wait but getting a move on with the HOMEBUYERS TAX CREDIT cannot wait. So, this is a timely message for all of you home buyers that have been doing my favorite exercise. . . Procrastination. I have addressed this before but thought since time is running out for this great savings, I should bring it to the forefront again. As I always do I am going to answer some ACTUAL real life questions that people have brought to my attention and have consulted other legal resources for my answers. (Federaltaxpayerscredit.com)

Q. What if you have already owned a home or you are married and your spouse has already owned a home, can you qualify?

A. This is a big misconception that people have when you talk about the First time homebuyer credit because YOU CAN qualify even if you have already owned a home per the “Economic Recovery act” definition is as follows:

“The law defines “first-time home buyer” as a buyer who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. For married taxpayers, the law tests the homeownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse.”

For example, if you have not owned a home in the past three years but your spouse has owned a principal residence, neither you nor your spouse qualifies for the first-time home buyer tax credit. However, unmarried joint purchasers may allocate the credit amount to any buyer who qualifies as a first-time buyer, such as may occur if a parent jointly purchases a home with a son or daughter.

Q. What if you already have a partnership in a vacation home can you still qualify?

A. Ownership of a vacation home or rental property not used as a principal residence does not disqualify a buyer as a first-time home buyer. This is a big question I have gotten from many people and the answer was quite surprising to me as well. What a great surprise!!!!

Q. How is this home buyer tax credit different from the tax credit that Congress enacted in July of 2008?

A. The most significant difference is that this tax credit does not have to be repaid. Because it had to be repaid, the previous “credit” was essentially an interest-free loan. This tax incentive is a true tax credit. However, home buyers must use the residence as a principal residence for at least three years or face recapture of the tax credit amount. Certain exceptions apply.

Q. How about short sales at this stage of the game? Should I buy a short sale or a foreclosure?

A. Now that could be a whole other article. Let me preface this by saying. . . “don’t shoot the messenger!” All short sales are not inherently bad, but I would at this point ask your Realtor if it is possible to close in time. It may be a risky venture for a home buyer and they should know the time frame going in. Most foreclosures are not complicated and can close in a timely fashion so they should be just fine. Again seek the consult of your trusted Realtor and lender, and they can help you with this on a case by case basis.

A big thing to remember that makes this so wonderful is that this is NOT a deduction, it is a CREDIT meaning that you actually get the check up to $8,000 if you qualify. You may use the money as you see fit. You may want to pay yourself back for the down payment or closing cost or you may purchase a home that needs a little face lift. You DO NOT have to justify your expenses it is your money to spend. Another huge bonus is that in addition to this money you also will be able to take a tax deduction for interest payments.

So now that you know and you have just enough information to get excited, give us a call and we will send you a Reference guide to the “Economic Recovery Act of 2009” You can also call your lender and he will help walk you through this process but you only have until November 30 to close so. . . on your marks – get set – GOOOOOO.

2 thoughts on “4 Questions (and answers!) About the Homebuyer's Tax Credit

  1. The comments regarding the $8,000 credit for first-time home buyers need to be corrected. The buyers that qualify DO NOT get a check to spend as they see fit. They do not get a check of any kind. They get a tax credit to be applied at the end of the year or with the right type of mortgage, they may get a reduction in the sale price/closing costs. This program replaces the old SHIPP program and you may want to contact Michael Johnson at 872-7230. He is located on 10th St.


  2. Jess,
    Sorry if my words were not clear and I see why they would be taken as such. I did not mean to imply that the buyers got a real Check at closing rather it is a credit from the IRS and I got my information from a lender that was doing them. I am certainly not an expert,not even close but wanted the information out there to remind people to get out there and use it if it applies to them. It is funny because I am getting a rash of calls from people that have procrastinated and if they take advantage it will be a good day for all of us. Thanks so much for sharing a valuable resource with us. I always encourage people to get the full scoop from their banker and accountant whatever be the case. I am actually doing my second part of the article right now. Again thanks for tuning in and I am glad you chimed in!


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