Market News

No Recess for Housing

by Kenneth R. Harney – Mon, Aug 17, 2009

The House and Senate may have left Capitol Hill for their August break, but housing lobbyists are busy at work gearing up a major campaign to extend the $8,000 home buyer tax credit.

The credit for first-time purchasers is scheduled to expire November 30.

The National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors want to persuade Congress to nail down an extension of the credit, and maybe even broaden its coverage, as soon as possible.

The home builders are mounting an aggressive campaign during the congressional recess. The association is sending out local teams of members to meet with congressmen and senators in their home districts, urging not only a one year extension of the credit, but an expansion of the concept to cover all home buyers next year, not just first-timers.

Though the endorsement may, or may not, have been connected with the home builders’ campaign, one of the most politically powerful Democrats has already signaled that he favors a one year extension.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, said he thinks “it’s something we can get done.” According to a report in the Las Vegas Sun, Reid made the comment last week during a conference call with Nevada reporters.

Meanwhile, the influential chairman of the Senate banking committee, Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd, has teamed up with Georgia Republican Senator Johnny Isakson to sponsor a bill that would extend the credit for another year and expand it to a $15,000 maximum.

In the House, two bills have been introduced to extend and expand the credit for either six months or 12 months. The National Association of Realtors is strongly supporting the extension efforts, and is sending its own delegations to lobby key members of the House Ways and Means committee and the Senate Finance committee.

So with all this going on, is it a sure thing that the tax credit will be available in some form for home buyers next year? Should consumers who can’t quite make the November 30 deadline breathe easier?

Absolutely not. There is no sure thing on Capitol Hill whenever legislation looks like it’s got a clear path to passage. That’s when opponents hijack the bill or filibuster it in the Senate.

Nonetheless, extension of the credit looks like it has growing bipartisan support. Mary Trupo, legislative spokesperson for the National Association of Realtors, told Realty Times last week that “we feel Congress is receptive” to the message that the housing tax credit helps create jobs, and stimulates the economy.

But nobody should assume it’s a done deal, until it is. Today’s Local Market Conditions Report

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