Senators Say Homebuyer Tax Credit is “In the Bag”
Post Date: October 28, 2009
The U.S. Senate’s chief Democrat, Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada), said Wednesday that his party has reached a consensus to extend the first-time homebuyer tax credit, which is set to expire November 30.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) has voiced the same sentiment to the media today, as well.
But the party support isn’t one-sided. Reuters reported that the chamber’s foremost Republican, Sen. Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), acknowledged that most senators support the measure, quoted by the news agency as saying he shares Reid’s view.
Reid summed it up on the Senate floor when he said, “There has been general agreement by a significant number of senators, Democrats and Republicans, to get this done.”
As DSNews.com reported Tuesday, the proposal gaining the most favor among Senators was an amendment offered up by Reid and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max
Baucus (D-Montana), which would extend the tax incentive until the end of 2010, but reduce the credit amount with each quarter.
Take two: The tax break measure has gotten yet another makeover. The latest version reduces the credit to 10 percent of the sale price, with a cap of $7,290 – as opposed to the $8,000 maximum currently in place. The benefit could be applied to home sales signed – not closed – by April 30, 2010, allowing 60 days beyond that date for closing.
It would also be opened up to buyers who have lived in their current residence for at least five years, so-called step-up buyers. The income limits for first-time homebuyers would stay the same – $75,000 for individuals, $150,000 for couples – but increase for step-up buyers to $125,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples.
Andrew Parmentier, a managing partner at Height Analytics, a research firm in Washington, told Bloomberg News that the demand for new homes and condominiums may more than double with step-up buyers as part of the equation. “You just opened up a whole new pool of people who can buy into those empty homes and empty condos that were built out,” Parmentier said – a move that would aid the existing-home market as well, as overall inventory levels are reduced.
A Senate vote on the credit extension was expected to come last night, but reportedly got entangled in legislative procedural issues. The tax credit amendment did not get attached to an insurance benefit bill, which did pass Tuesday night, as intended. Despite the red-tape roadblock, senators say a decision will be made sometime this week.