Wednesday, October 8, 2008

First Time Buyer Credit: Really a 0% Loan

I’ve been seeing quite a few agents and lenders using the $7,500 1st Time Buyer “Credit” in their promotional materials aimed at first time buyers. Be careful out there as many people “explaining” this “credit” to first time buyers are not including the part where it has to be repaid. The first payment of $500 begins two years after you receive the “Credit” and continues for 15 years. If you sell the property at a profit before the $7,500 is paid back, the balance is due when you sell. On the bright side, it does appear that if you do not have enough “profit” to repay the interest free loan of $7,500…it is forgiven.

Excerpted from FAQ’s On the $7,500 1st Time Buyer “Credit”:

Because the tax credit must be repaid, it operates like a zero-interest loan….The program is called a tax credit because it operates through the tax code and is administered by the IRS. Also like a tax credit, it provides a reduction in tax liability in the year it is claimed.”

“…the tax credit must be repaid. Home buyers will be required to repay the credit to the government, without interest, over 15 years or when they sell the house, if there is sufficient capital gain from the sale…if the tax credit is claimed on the 2008 tax return, a $500 payment is not due until the 2010 tax return is filed.”

“…this will maximize the stimulus for the housing market and the economy, will help stabilize home prices, and will increase home sales.”

It’s not that I’m against a stimulus package for increasing homes sales, but you have to wonder how many people see CREDIT and understand LOAN? They really should call it a $7,500 1st Time Buyer Interest Free LOAN. And for all you mortage and real estate professionals, maybe we understand why the government has to call it a TAX CREDIT, but to be sure your clients know the amount has to be repaid, you should call it an interest free loan when explaining it to your clients. As always consult a CPA or accountant for further clarification.