Monday, September 28, 2009

What if the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit isn't extended?

By now you're fully aware (I hope) of the current $8,000.00 first time homebuyer tax credit set to expire after Monday, November 30th, 2009. You're also probably aware of S.B. 1678 (introduced by Maryland's own Sen. Benjamin Cardin) which seeks to extend this credit to June 1, 2010. Many *think* it will get extended, and most in housing certainly *hope* it will.

Without analyzing or debating the merits of whether to extend, broaden or let lapse the current credit, here is a practical checklist that I hope each buyer's agent refers to when scheduling settlements for the latter half of November:

1. Read this blog post from Dan Green. Think about scheduling the week of November 16th.

2. Check your own schedule. What are your Thanksgiving plans? Do you have an agent who can back you up?

3. Sit down with your buyer(s) and open a calendar. Start with Monday, November 30th, and work backwards, explaining the significance of each day. Are they going away for Thanksgiving? What are their plans? What days are they absolutely not available?

4. Talk to the listing agent. Make sure they are going through this exercise with the seller.

5. Talk to the lender. Are they open on Friday, November 27th? Will a loan processor or underwriter be available to answer questions?

6. Talk to the title company. Are they open that Friday? If you are planning a Wednesday (before Thanksgiving) closing that gets pushed off, can they do it Friday, or will it get pushed to Monday?

Not everyone has answers to these questions right now, and if the credit gets extended we're not facing such a hard deadline. But as hope is seldom the best strategy, I would advise that all of us real estate professionals start asking the questions and giving thought to this now rather than later.