More time to boost?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Pike County housing market didn’t necessarily see big boosts in sales with the passage of the first-time homebuyers tax credit earlier in the year.

But, realtors are hopeful the bill’s expansion could bring good news along with it.

“It’s impacted some here. A lot of our homebuyers have been first time buyers,” said Scott Hendricks, president of the Pike County Board of Realtors. “Still, it’s a small percentage of our market.”

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But since the tax credit, set to end Nov. 30, has now been both extended and expanded, Hendricks said the benefits may start to show.

The original credit offered an $8,000 break on tax returns for those who purchased a home for the first time.

The contract will not be extended for eligible taxpayers who purchase a first primary residence before April 30, 2010. The home must close by June 30, 2010 to be eligible for a credit at 10 percent of the purchase price or up to $8,000.

Those eligible as first-time homebuyers include people who have not owned a home at any time in the last three years.

These requirements, combined with the expansion, which gives those who have owned a residence at least five consecutive years out of eight a chance to earn tax credit, covers a much bigger portion of the local housing market, Hendricks said.

“It’s now opened up to people who have owned for five out of eight years and purchase another house,” Hendricks said. “This would cover everybody just about.”

“It hasn’t strongly impacted out economy yet,” Hendricks said.

On average, Hendricks said houses have been taking around 60 days to close. So, if the new extension has made a dent, the impact is still unknown.

“We really haven’t had time to see the impact of this program yet,” he said.

However, Hendricks said he’s hopeful this may be beneficial to a local housing market that, while it hasn’t suffered as hard as others across the country, has still been impacted by real estate slow downs.

“It should (help) because in my opinion, where it wasn’t opened up to many of our people here, all of a sudden it does open up to our market here,” Hendricks said.