First-Time Homebuyer Credit Expiring Soon

Last Updated Oct 1, 2009 3:16 PM EDT

If you've been thinking that you wanted to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer tax credit, note that -- as of this writing -- it runs out this year. And note that "this year" means "November." That's right, to be eligible for the credit you have to close, not by December 31, but by November 30. Add in the time it takes to get a mortgage, and this is really your last month to shop.

Now, we have a maxim in the real estate industry that property is one of the few things that people don't like to buy when it's on sale. I think some buyers feel the same way about a sense of urgency. The same people who would drive to the grocery store to get a Sunday special on a ham don't want to hear that they really ought to be buying a house in November. However, if you can snag the $8,000 tax credit (it phases out as income rises, so singles who make more than $75,000 and couples who make more than $150,000 in adjusted gross income aren't eligible), you should.

If, on the other hand, you're in the starter home niche but you're not a first-time buyer, it might make sense to wait until November to make offers, because you'll be facing less competition that way.

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  • Alison Rogers

    Since graduating from Harvard summa cum laude, Alison Rogers has been a reporter, an editor, a real-estate agent, a Wall Street desk jockey, a columnist, a failed flipper, and a landlady. A member of the National Association of Realtors, she currently sells and rents luxury co-ops in Manhattan for the Chelsea-based firm DG Neary. (If you've got $27,500 a month, the firm has an apartment for you!) Her book, Diary of a Real Estate Rookie, was called "a valuable guide for rookie buyers" by AOL/Walletpop, "beach-read fun" by the New York Observer, and "witty" by Newsweek.