Good question. Congress has been passing laws faster than the industry knows what to do with them. The current law, as was passed last year, gives a $7500 credit on your tax return for qualified first-time buyers who purchase a home between April 9, 2008 and July 1, 2009. Except it isn't a credit. It's a zero interest loan that must be repaid on your future taxes over the next 15 years.
As you can imagine, this did little to stimulate the housing market. It doesn't increase your ability to purchase a home. It just makes expenses easier to handle once you're there…eventually…when you get a refund…that you pay back.
The new stimulus plan that passed the house on Wednesday turns that credit into a…CREDIT! If the bill becomes law, that $7500 would become a straight-forward credit on your 2009 returns. It would retroactively include purchases made since January 1, 2009 and extend through either June or August (depending on the bill).
Will this simply be a windfall for the qualified first-time buyers who were going to buy anyway? Or will this be enough incentive to convince someone on the fence to buy? It still won't give you $7500 to use towards your down payment. But knowing it's there in 2010 may just be the assurance you need, that you can afford to buy in this well priced market.