RISMEDIA, July 27, 2010—The Home Buyer Tax Credit proved to be a valuable stimulus to the troubled U.S. housing industry. The only catch: those who qualified had to be under contract by April 30, 2010, and close by June 30 (editor’s note: at press time, the federal government had extended this closing deadline to September).
In the months leading up to the contract deadline, existing home sales increased steadily and, according to NAR data released in May, they jumped 7.6% from March to April, showing a 22.8% increase from April 2009 figures.
Now, with both tax credit deadlines past, real estate professionals can help maintain the recent momentum by keeping buyers motivated. Truth is, the tax credit was one of many incentives to enter the market in the past two years—and several of those advantages still exist for qualified buyers. Remind your customers that it’s still a great time to buy. Here are some key points to highlight for them:
Low Home Prices
Although there is widespread agreement in the industry that the housing market has reached the bottom, home prices aren’t expected to spike upward. Instead, they’re likely to skip along the bottom into 2011. They will continue to decline in some markets and creep up in others. As long as buyers remain diligent in the home search over the coming months, possible pricing fluctuations won’t have a dramatic effect on their property options.
Low Interest Rates
Interest rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages hit a five-month low of 4.93% in May, and as of early June the rates were holding steady below 5%. Financial concerns over the growing debt crisis in Europe have stemmed discussions in the U.S. of raising rates. The historically low rates will save home buyers thousands and thousands of dollars over the life of a loan, which arguably is reason enough to enter the market.
Other Tax Benefits
The U.S. Home Buyer Tax Credit was temporary, but there are other tax benefits that buyers can continue to count on for the foreseeable future. Property taxes, mortgage interest payments and mortgage insurance premiums are qualified deductions that can help reduce many homeowners’ tax liability. For eco-conscious homeowners, purchasing energy-efficient appliances and making other green upgrades can mean a tax credit up to $1,500. For more information, be sure to visit www.irs.gov or consult a tax professional.
Encourage your buyer clients to focus on today’s favorable home buying conditions, instead of looking back with regret. It’s worth sitting down with them to recap the benefits of buying over renting. Tax credit or no tax credit, homeownership is part of the America dream—and it’s alive and well.
Margaret Kelly, CRB, is chief executive officer of RE/MAX LLC.
For more information, visit www.remax.com.