By Robert Freedman, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
A handful of bills to extend and increase the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit are under consideration in Congress, but if you have clients who are holding out in anticipation of one of these bills passing, you might want to encourage them not to wait. The likelihood of any of these bills getting enacted this year is highly uncertain.
That’s the message I’m getting from NAR analysts. The issue isn’t the tax credit itself. From everything we’re seeing, the credit enjoys broad bipartisan support and, as our chief economist Lawrence Yun has said, the credit is a bargain when it comes to economic stimulus. You get a lot of bang for the buck, and I think it’s safe to say that a lot of lawmakers realize that. Certainly Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) does. He’s the lead sponsor of a bill to extend and increase the credit, and he’s been a champion on what the credit can do for the economy.
The problem, rather, is far more prosaic. It’s an issue of timing–even workload. Congressional leaders in both houses are determined to get something out this summer on health care reform. That’s a huge undertaking. There are five major bills in the works and all of those approaches must be merged somehow into a single bill. What’s more, different pieces of different bills are under different committee jurisdictions. It’s a tangled web that Congress weaves!
The good news on health care reform is that lawmakers generally recognize the need to help small business owners and the self-employed. That’s something else I’m hearing from NAR analysts. So, there’s reason to be optimistic that whatever comes out of Congress will recognize the tough conditions faced by REALTORS®.
But the downside is the precious little time this process leaves for other matters.
For that reason, it wouldn’t be bad idea to tell your customers that, when it comes to the tax credit, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. If they hold out in the hopes of getting a richer credit, they could see their chance of getting any credit disappear.
Bottom line: With Congress, you never know what’s going to happen. Sometimes legislation moves at a glacial pace; other times it gets turned around in an instant. It’s impossible to know beforehand what legislation might get put on a fast track. But, if you let your customers know about the uncertain prospects for any legislation, not just the tax credit legislation, they can make their own informed choice. Certainly they’ll appreciate that you let them know the potential consequences of waiting.