Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In the News: President Signs Economic Stimulus Measure

Today, we received news that President Obama signed the new $787 Million dollar stimulus package to "breathe new life into our economy," as stated by Ed Andrieski, a reporter for the Associated Press.

Here is something Realtors received today from the desk of Gary Wright, the 2009 President of the National Association of Realtors regarding the new Stimulus Package signed today by President Obama:

The $790 billion stimulus package signed by President Obama today increases the home buyer tax credit to $8,000, drops the repayment feature, reinstates last year's 2008 loan limits for FHA, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae loans, and provides $2 billion in additional funding for states and localities to be used to purchase, manage, repair and resell foreclosed and abandoned properties. Many elements (listed below) included in HR 1 "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009," were supported by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) as well as the many REALTORS® who sent call to action messages to Congress urging their support! Homebuyer Tax Credit.

The bill provides for a $8,000 tax credit that would be available to first-time home buyers (those who haven't owned in at least three years) for the purchase of a principal residence on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009. The credit does not require repayment for buyers who hold onto their property for at least three years. Most of the mechanics of the credit will be the same as under the 2008 rules: the credit will be claimed on a tax return to reduce the purchaser's income tax liability. If any credit amount remains unused, then the unused amount will be refunded as a check to the purchaser.

NAR has sought removal of the repayment requirement because it discourages buyers from taking advantage of the tax credit. The three-year minimum holding period is a safeguard against speculators' use of the credit. The legislation also extends the effective date of the credit to December 1 from June 30, and extends eligibility to borrowers who buy their home with the help of state or local financial assistance that comes from the proceeds of tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds.

The start date for the first time homebuyer credit is January 1, 2009 through and before December 1, 2009.

FHA and conforming loan limits. Specifics have not been released but reports indicate that the 2008 limits have been reinstated for 2009 except in those communities where the 2009 limits are higher. Additional increases in individual communities may also be available at the discretion of the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Foreclosure mitigation and neighborhood stabilization. Funding for states and localities to be used for neighborhood stabilization activities for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes are authorized. Some news reports put the funding level at $2 billion.
Rental assistance. Up to $1.5 billion to provide short-term rental assistance and other aid for families during the economic crisis.

Transportation infrastructure. Up to $29 billion for highway construction projects, $8 billion for rail projects.

Rural housing development. Increased funding for the Rural Housing Service direct and guaranteed loan programs.

Low-income housing grants. Allow states to trade in a portion of their 2009 low-income housing tax credits for Treasury grants to finance the construction or acquisition and rehabilitation of low-income housing, including those with or without tax credit allocations.
Tax-exempt housing bonds. Tax-exempt interest earned on specified state and local bonds issued during 2009 and 2010 will not be subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). In addition, financial institutions will have greater capacity to purchase tax-exempt state and local bonds.

Energy efficient housing. Grants for energy retrofits for federally assisted housing (Section 8), funding for energy efficiency and conservation block grants to states, increases in the residential tax credit through 2010 for certain energy efficient upgrades and $5 billion to weatherize low-income homes.

Greg Wright2009 PresidentWashington REALTORS®

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