Breaking News: Tax Credit Can Be Cash for Downpayment

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HUD [Housing and Urban Development] announced today that the buyer’s credit of up to $8,000 can now be used as part of the down payment for an FHA loan.

This is great news because it will, undoubtedly help many more first-time home buyers get into their first home. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan estimates that thousands more buyers will now be able to use the FHA-insured program, stimulating the lagging housing market.
“We believe this is a real win for everyone,” said Donovan. “Today, the Obama Administration is taking another important step toward accelerating the recovery of the nation’s housing market. Families will now be able to apply their anticipated tax credit toward their home purchase right away. At the same time we are putting safeguards in place to ensure that consumers will be protected from unscrupulous lenders. What we’re doing today will not only help these families to purchase their first home but will present an enormous benefit for communities struggling to deal with an oversupply of housing.”

Previously, the buyer was required to wait until next year’s tax time to recoup the money. As we remember, this credit was included in Obama’s Recovery Act of earlier this year. The property must be purchased by December 1, 2009. How, exactly the tax credit of up to $8000 will be monetized is not yet clear. It appears that each state will issue separate guidelines for FHA lenders. Buyers financing through state Housing Finance Agencies and certain non-profits will be able to use the tax credit for their downpayments via secondary financing provided by the HFA or non-profit. In addition to the borrower’s own cash investment, FHA allows parents, employers and other governmental entities to contribute towards the downpayment. Today’s action permits the first-time homebuyer’s anticipated tax credit under the Recovery Act to be applied toward the family’s home purchase right away. Unlike seller-funded down-payment assistance, which was a vehicle for abuse, this program will allow homebuyers to shop for the best home price and services using their anticipated tax credit.

Homebuyers should beware of mortgage scams and carefully compare benefits and costs when seeking out tax credit monetization services. Programs will vary from organization to organization and borrowers should consider whether the services make sense for them, as well as what company offers the most suitable and affordable option.
For every FHA borrower who is assisted through the tax credit program, FHA will collect the name and employer identification number of the organization providing the service as well as associated fees and charges. FHA will use this information to track the business closely and will refer any questionable practices to the appropriate regulatory agencies, as necessary.

As always, because this is a brand-new program there may be some delay before the money is available.

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