Help Keep Economic Recovery On Track
By Rick McMahon President, Chautauqua County Board of Realtors
How during the worst economic recession since the Great Depression did so many Americans have the ability to purchase their first home? The answer is simple: The first-time homebuyer federal income tax credit of up to $8,000.
As a long-time Realtor here in Chautauqua County, I can tell you that interest from potential first-time buyers began to pick up soon after the tax credit was announced. Since then, sales activity in this sector of our market continued to grow. When coupled with favorable interest rates and pricing, many families and individuals discovered that it was the right time to buy. It also created the opportunity for current homeowners to step up to their next home.
Experts agree that growth in the housing market equates to growth in our local, state and national economies. The economic benefits derived from the sale of a home extend well beyond the closing table to include the many purchases made by new homeowners including durable goods such as appliances, home furnishings and services such as movers and home contractors. These purchases also generate much needed tax revenue.
The months of statewide and Chautauqua County housing growth since the enactment of the tax credit have resulted in a market that has improved, but not yet fully corrected itself. I am deeply concerned that the momentum in the housing market generated by the credit will take a turn for the worse when it expires on Nov. 30.
And while the legal end of the credit is now Nov. 30, the effective end is much sooner. Prospective buyers who plan on using the credit need to understand that they have to find a house, complete a contract, satisfy any contingencies, secure financing and go to closing by Nov. 30. Accomplishing those tasks by Nov. 30 will become more difficult with every passing day since in today's market; it generally takes between 45 and 60 days to go from contract to closing.
This means our progress could grind to a halt unless the tax credit is extended for an additional period of time and expanded in order to build upon the progress that has already been made. Uncertainty about the future of the credit will dampen consumer demand and have an overall negative effect on the broader economy.
The 56,000 members of the New York State Association of Realtors, including 350 members of Chautauqua County Board of Realtors, are calling on the New York State Congressional Delegation to support an extension and expansion of the tax credit to assure the housing market's ability to help lead our state's economic recovery.
We cannot afford to "wait and see" what happens if the credit ends. An extension and expansion of the homebuyer tax credit program now is vital to our continued economic recovery and must be at the top of our lawmakers' fiscal agenda.