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If You're Thinking of Buying a House

The stimulus package includes a tax credit of up to $8,000 for qualified buyers, if you buy a house this year. The property must be the first house you’ve owned in the past three years, and you must meet certain income requirements. Those earning under $75,000 will get the full credit—10 percent of the house's sticker price—up to $8,000. If you earn between $75,000 and $95,000, you will get a smaller percentage back. For couples, the income threshold is set at $150,000 for a full credit, and up to $170,000 to get a smaller credit back. For more information about the tax credits, read the FAQs put out by the National Association of Realtors and talk to a tax preparer or real estate lawyer about your eligibility.

In addition to the tax break, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) can now guarantee loans up to $729,750 in high-cost areas such as New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. But this is a temporary increase—access to the FHA program at these higher limits will end this year. The FHA program is worth considering for anyone who doesn’t have 20 percent to put down. The guarantee helps buyers secure a mortgage with as little as 3.5 percent of their own cash to invest.

Learn More:
FHA Loans
Buying a Foreclosure
Buying and Selling Green
Best Places for First-Time Buyers to Get an Old House
Ask TOH users about Green

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