Biden hoping for a home run to aid first-time homebuyers

President Joe Biden wanted a tax credit for first-time homebuyers. He needed Congress to step up to the plate.

And while there’s still some work to do before hitting the ball out of the park, Congress at least gave him a line-drive base hit in its first at bat.

In April, U.S. Rep., Jimmy Panetta of California and Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon introduced new legislation that is known as the “First-Time Homebuyer Act.” The new bill, being discussed in Congress, would provide a tax credit for first-time homebuyers that would equal 10% of the purchase price of the home, or $15,000.

Eligible buyers are those who have not owned a home or purchased a home in the three previous years.

Another condition of eligibility is that participants must not make more than 160% of the median income for the area and the purchase price of the home must be no more than 110% of the median purchase price of the area.

Borrowers will be able to claim the credit for any home purchased in 2021 or beyond.

The idea was to target those individuals who are low or middle-income earners, and they would have to use the home as a primary residence for at least four years. If not, a portion of the credit would be recovered through taxes.

This bill is not to be confused with different legislation that would provide down payment assistance via a closing grant to first-time, first generation homeowners. This bill – which part of Biden’s infrastructure plan – should not be confused with different legislation that would provide down payment assistance via closing grant to first-time, first-generation homeowners, which is not affiliated with Biden’s plan.

That said, there’s a possibility that both see the light of day.

“This legislation is just one element of the big, bold housing agenda that we are promoting to combat the housing affordability crisis and address centuries of overtly racist and discriminatory housing policies that have left massive wealth, homeownership, and opportunity gaps between white communities and communities of color,” Blumenauer said in a statement provided to Housing Wire.

The legislation is designed to build wealth within communities that face systemic exclusions in the housing market.

This isn’t the first time that a first-time homebuyer tax credit is being considered in Congress. In fact, in 2008, Congress passed an overwhelmingly successful law that created a $7,500 tax credit for first-time homebuyers and 1.5 million homebuyers took advantage of the credit.

In 2009, the credit increased to $8,000.

Things went awry when it became obvious that the Internal Revenue Service wasn’t providing the proper oversight, and an IRS watchdog found more than 74,000 questionable claims for the tax credit that the IRS simply missed.

In those instances, there were individuals taking the credit who did not purchase a home. There were also borrowers under the age of 18 and there were those who received the credit who had, in fact, owned a home within the previous three years.

As much as first-time homebuyers would champion this legislation becoming law, with the way Congress moves, it might not be worth the wait.

In other words, if you are a first-time homebuyer, you might want to act now and not sit around and wait to see if Congress can pass this bill.

Properties are being gobbled up fast. Sometimes mere days after being listed. If you are waiting, home prices will continue to rise, the market will become more competitive, and you could be left standing there with the bat on your shoulder as strike three blows past you.

About the American Property Owners Alliance
The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization created to protect and support property owners and pave the way for future property owners. Our mission is to educate property owners about federal issues, laws and policies; to advocate for owners’ rights and interests; and to mobilize, when necessary, to secure those rights and interests.
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