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RISMEDIA, January 8, 2010—The countdown is under way. As of January 1, you have four months to promote the expanded U.S. Homebuyer Tax Credit and get your qualified buyers under contract by the April 30 deadline.

Fueled by the original November 30, 2009 deadline, sales of existing homes had increased steadily since April, with the exception of a slight dip in August. NAR surveys show that about 30% of all closed transactions during that period involved first-time buyers.

In November, Congress extended the tax credit and amended it to include some repeat buyers in hopes of securing a more sustained real estate upswing. However, the narrow window suggests none of us should count on another extension.

Here are some ways to ensure that you and your clients make the most of this opportunity.

Update Your Message
You’ve probably already begun updating marketing materials that show you’re the expert on the new rules. Your target audience should now include repeat buyers who can qualify for a $6,500 tax credit if they’ve lived in their home for five consecutive years of the last eight. Make sure homeowners understand that as long as they’re buying a new primary residence, they’re not required to sell their current home right away—or at all. In the meantime, they’re able to take advantage of today’s lower home prices and historically low interest rates.

Clear Your Schedule
As the new deadline looms, buyers will be looking for more attention and more of your time for showings. First-timers who were excluded from the $8,000 credit by the old income limits will be looking to join the action, too. The new limits are $125,000 for individual filers and $225,000 for joint filers. With the possible influx of repeat and first-time buyers, you’ll want to make sure you have systems in place to ensure everyone’s needs are met.

Be Diligent at Every Step
You don’t want any delaying issues to emerge, so stay on top of your closing checklist. Insist that lenders, inspectors, listing agents and other involved parties also stay alert, because your most motivated buyers will want to act quickly. Also, be sure to know the inventory inside and out on properties priced up to $800,000, which is the new home-price limit for the tax credit.

Over the next few months, focus on the tax credit’s enhancements and unprecedented advantages so that your buyer clients meet the deadlines and have you to thank for it.

Margaret Kelly, CRB, is chief executive officer of RE/MAX International, Inc.

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