Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Get your $8,000 HUD tax credit now

Get your $8,000 HUD tax credit now

HUD tweaked stimulus tax incentive so first-time home buyers get instant assistance with down payment and closing costs.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- First-time homebuyers will now have access to quick cash to help them with their down payments.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that first-time homebuyers using FHA-approved lenders can now get an advance on the $8,000 tax credit created by the stimulus package and apply it toward their down payments or closing costs.

"We believe this is a real win for everyone," said HUD secretary Shaun Donovan in a speech before the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB). "Families will now be able to apply their anticipated tax credit toward their home purchase right away. What we're doing today will not only help these families to purchase their first home but will present an enormous benefit for communities struggling to deal with an oversupply of housing."

As part of the stimulus package, Congress created a refundable first-time homebuyers tax credit in hopes of helping on-the-fence buyers to take the home-purchase plunge. But buyers couldn't collect the $8,000 credit until tax time, rather than at closing time -- when it's needed.

The delay created an obstacle to reigniting the housing market because most first-time buyers -- the ones who would buy much of the available inventory -- have only saved enough to cover 4% of the purchase price, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The mechanics of the new program, according to NAHB economist Robert Dietz, allow lenders to purchase tax credits from the buyers and then collect the rebate from the IRS. Homebuyers must still come up with FHA's mandatory down payment of 3.5% on their own, but they can use the tax credit to lower their principal balance and save on monthly payments.

By Les Christie, CNNMoney.com staff writer

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