Tax incentives aim at stimulating real estate market

You may have heard of the first-time homebuyer tax credit, but even if it’s not your first time as a home owner you can reap some big benefits.

The federal government is offering up to $8,000 to people buy a home before December 1st.

You’ll have to qualify for the tax credit, but for many, the money could be the difference between buying a home and walking away.

The “first-time” title for the homebuyer tax credit isn’t entirely accurate. In fact, you’re eligible if you’ve never owned a home, or if you haven’t owned your primary home for at least three years.

“If you have a vacation home and you’ve owned that vacation home and claimed another location as your primary residence, like a rental apartment, then you could be eligible for this tax credit,” explained Todd Toconis of Intracoastal Realty.

To qualify for the full $8,000 credit, your income must be less than $150,000 per year for a couple, or $75,000 for an individual.

After that, the credit is scaled back based on income with a cap of $175,000 for a couple and $95,000 for an individual.

“I would look at this as a bonus. It’s a one time check, it should not influence the dollar amount of the home that you purchase,” said Ross Marino.

Realtors and financial experts both say it will help sell houses.

You won’t actually receive the money until you file your taxes in 2009, and if you owe the government money it could be deducted from the credit.

But if you want the money sooner, mortgage consultant Jimmy Constantinesco says you can file an amended tax return for 2008.

Still, if you do buy a home, make sure it’s one that’s within your price range.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, but still aren’t sure, it’s worth noting that the housing affordability index, which has been tracked since 1971, says that housing has never been more affordable in our country.

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