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Tax credit nears end
Incentive has spurred home sales
House Tax Credit 4 es
Dee Ballew looks through the newly listed house. - photo by Emily Saunders
Less than two weeks remain to receive a tax credit for buying a home.

And, as local real estate agent Sue Stancil noted, there are “still good deals out there” in Forsyth County.

The federal credit began as up to an $8,000 incentive for first-time homebuyers. It was extended Nov. 6 to include up to a $6,500 credit for those who have owned a home for at least five years.

The extension on both credits expires April 30. To qualify, homebuyers must be under contract on a home before May 1 and must close on the property by June 30.

Stancil said the credit has helped boost home sales during an otherwise down economy.

There is no good time for the credit to end, she said, but with the market’s peak season approaching, she doesn’t expect a sharp downward spike in sales.

“I believe it will stay good for a few more months, just because the spring market is here,” she said. “I think we’ll see a slide, but I don’t think it will be a big one.”

Fellow agent John Heath said he’s “a little nervous” about the credit ending. The $8,000, he said, was the extra push several of his clients needed to buy a home.

“If you were kind of sitting on the fence about continuing to rent or buy, that $8,000 got you off that fence,” he said. “And with interest rates the way they are, their payments aren’t much different than their rent payment was.”

To qualify for the first-time homebuyer credit, a buyer can not have been the owner of a primary residence for the three years up to the date of purchase.

The $6,500, or longtime resident credit, requires a buyer to have lived in the same primary residence for at least five years.

Homes cannot exceed $800,000 for either credit, and income limits are $125,000 for an individual or $225,000 per couple.

There is a reduced credit for those earning up to $20,000 above that limit.

Heath said it’s difficult to pinpoint where the market would have gone without the credit.

“Whether or not these people would have bought something if the tax credit wasn’t there, I don’t know,” he said.

But Dee Ballew said she’s confident the credit “has stimulated the market quite a bit.”

“It’s not too late to take advantage of the tax credit,” the real estate agent said. “We’re already busy trying to get people in.”