Home stretch for 1st-time homebuyer credit

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - The government's deadline for the first-time homebuyer tax credit is December 1st, which at this point in early September sounds pretty far away. But real estate agents warn that anyone interested in claiming the benefit better start looking for a house right now.

Whether it's in the suburbs, or the city finding the right house takes time. Especially, when you're looking for the very first time.

"In any real estate transaction, things take longer than you expect," said Gary Duda, REMAX Action Real Estate.

In an effort to stimulate the economy, the government is offering an eight-thousand dollar tax credit to first-time homebuyers who meet certain qualifications. But you have to close on the house by December first, which usually means negotiating the sale at least a month before that.

"If you are not under contract by the end of October it's unlikely that there's gonna be enough time for your lender and your attorney to get this thing closed in time," Gary said.

That's because you need inspections, an appraisal, and insurance - not to mention extra time in case things go wrong.

"Expect a logjam for appraisals, for closings, for everything," he said.

And that doesn't even factor in all the weekends you'll spend just looking at houses. So if your dream of buying that very first home depends on getting that eight-thousand dollar government tax credit - the advice is to wait no longer.

"Get moving right now, get the process going, and listen to the people who are giving you advice. Don't  wait. If you wait, you lose $8,000 which is the maximum amount of the tax credit," said Gary.

According to the government, a first-time homebuyer is any individual or married couple who haven't owned a home in the past three years. The credit was designed to help stimulate the economy. But you only get it if you close on your first house by December first and with all the work that goes into finding and buying a home, real estate agents say buyers need to be looking right now:

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