$8,000 tax credit available for some home buyers

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - If you want to buy a home, now's the time to do it.

"There's a lot more homes for sale than there are buyers out there," explained John Jones, the founder of John Jones Realty.  "Then the buyers are able to get a deal on a house."

But very few people are taking advantage of the low prices.  When asked if people were buying houses, Duncan Noble's answer was simple.

"No they're not. I've got friends, sub-contractor friends that have seen their business go down by about 80 percent," said the owner of Noble Realty in Gautier.

Congress is sending down a little help to try to fix this paradox.  They are giving an $8,000 tax credit for certain people who buy homes between January 1 and November 30 of this year.  It's part of the national stimulus package, and is aimed at recharging the housing market all over the country.

Not everyone qualifies.  In order to receive the tax credit, you must be a "first time" home buyer. In this case, that means anyone who has not owned a home in the past three years.

Single people who make less than $75,000 a year, or couples who make less than $150,000 a year qualify for the full $8,000 tax credit. Anyone who makes more than that still qualifies for a tax credit, but it will be smaller, depending on the home buyer's income.

Realtors hope the new tax credit will help get some of those homes sold. Cindy Pritchard, an associate broker at Coldwell Banker United in Gautier, said the income-targeted tax credit will have a positive effect on the market here in South Mississippi.

"That is really a pretty good income, especially for our area. That will encompass a lot of people," she said.

But some realtors are disappointed the provisions don't support construction of new homes, which they say could really jump-start the economy.

"A lot of new houses, the cost of building those is outside of the range of where the first time home buyer, with the limitation of their income, can afford to buy," said Jones.

"Building new homes puts a lot of people to work," Noble explained.  "Everything from the people who clean off the land, lay the foundations, build the houses, put the roofs on, there's a lot of people who are involved in construction. And there's a lot of people who are laid off- unemployed right now because there's nothing going on."

None of the realtors interviewed seemed to think this plan was perfect, but they are all happy to see a step in the right direction.

"You have to start somewhere," Pritchard explained.  "If we do nothing, then nothing will happen. So I'm hoping that as this evolves with Congress, then more things will become available. But I think this is a good place to start."