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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chautauqua County Home Sales Increasing

Tax Credit Gives Boosts

By Dennis Phillips State housing sales numbers climbed by more than 8 percent because of the first-time homebuyer tax credit, and experts expect housing sales to continue to climb with the extension of the federal program.
First-time homebuyers have been getting a tax credits of up to $8,000 since January as part of the economic stimulus package enacted earlier this year. And with the extension and expansion of the program in November, Jan R. Murray, Chautauqua County Board of Realtors executive officer, said housing sales will continue to climb, helping realtors during the tough seasonal, winter months.
''There will be a seasonal slow down, but buyers looking will buy because of this (tax credit),'' she said. ''Things will get slow between now and the new year, but we do expect it to pick up after. The tax rebate program will help to see us through the slow time.''
The new program will also include home owners looking to sell. Anyone who has owned their current homes at least five years would be eligible for a tax credit of up to $6,500. First-time homebuyers - or anyone who hasn't owned a home in the last three years - would still get up to $8,000. Couples earning as much as $225,000 and individuals earning up to $125,000 would qualify for the tax credit. That's up from the original $75,000 limit for individuals and $150,000 for couples.
To qualify, buyers in both groups have to sign a purchase agreement by April 30, 2010, and close by June 30.
State housing sales experts say October's sales jumped of 8 percent above September and a nearly 6 percent improvement compared to October 2008 is because of the tax-rebate credit.
''There is no question that the federal first-time homebuyer tax credit has been a significant driver of home sales in New York state since its inception,'' said Duncan R. MacKenzie, New York State Association of Realtors chief executive officer. ''New York's realtors are grateful that our Congressional delegation understood this and forwarded legislation to extend and expand the tax credit to President Barack Obama, who signed it into law.''
New York realtors sold 7,783 existing single-family homes in the state in October, a 7.7 percent increase compared to the September total of 7,224.
The October 2009 sales total was 5.7 percent above the October 2008 total of 7,363. The October median sales price in the state of $209,900 represents an increase of 2.4 percent compared to the September median of $205,000.
''Realtors know that the tax credit has helped to revitalize the housing market and position it to once again lead our economic recovery,'' MacKenzie said. ''The extension of the first-time buyer credit and the creation of a tax credit for existing homeowners who purchase their next home will allow both the housing market and our economy to hold on to the gains that have been made in recent months. We anticipate the expansion of the tax credit will bring trade-up buyers back into the market, driving sales in all segments of the market in addition to helping to ease the tightening of inventory in the first-time buyer segment.''
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