The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008
Published On September 9th, 2008

Last month, President Bush signed the “Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008″ into law. This $300 Billion rescue plan is aimed at helping struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure, as well as boost confidence in the housing market. Although the bill is several hundred pages long and contains a number of far-reaching provisions, here are a few of the major provisions in the legislation that impact homeowners and homebuyers:

1. Tax credits. First-time homebuyers who purchase their primary residence on or after April 9, 2008 and before July 1, 2009 are eligible for up to $7,500 in tax credit, provided they haven’t owned a home in the last three years and fit certain income parameters. The credit is generous, but it is actually an interest free loan, paid back over 15 years at $500 per year when taxes are filed.

Special note: Some types of seller-paid down payment assistance programs are being eliminated as of October 1st as well – so purchasing a home before then may gain you a double benefit of tax credits AND seller-paid down payment assistance while it is still available.

2. Larger loans at lower rates. There have recently been provisions in place that have allowed loans larger than $417,000 to qualify for better financing rates than normally would be available for “jumbo” loan amounts of that size, thanks to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Although these provisions were set to expire, they are being extended…however, the top end of the loan size that will be allowed under these programs will be dropping down from $729,750 to $625,500 as of January 1, 2009.

3. FHA Hope for Homeowners. This provision is designed to help homeowners who are “upside down” on their mortgages–that is, they owe more on their house than they can sell it for in today’s market. Essentially, this plan allows homeowners who meet the requirements and are upside down to refinance their mortgage to a new 30-year Fixed FHA mortgage. There are a number of qualifying details that must be met and requirements to be agreed to — including agreeing to split the equity in your home with the government in the future. Still, if you’re upside down on your mortgage and struggling in today’s economy, this is an option worth exploring in more detail.

These are just a few of the provisions that may benefit you, and there are a number of other items that impact the housing and mortgage industry as whole. But the bottom line is, home prices are extremely reasonable right now, home loan rates are low, and new incentives are in place that may help make the decision to buy even more appealing than before. If you’re in the market for a new home or need to make some changes with your current mortgage…there’s never been a better time to act. Just get in touch so we can start the planning process together.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the new legislation and how it may impact you, please call or email to schedule a time to talk.

Robert Weinberg is one of the nation’s leading experts on debt elimination and credit management.   Robert can be reached at 888-456-5635 or by email at Be sure to check out Robert’s blog at Don’t forget to sign up for our weekly Debt & Credit Strategies newsletter. Looking for help with your current debt situation? You are encouraged to take part in our Free Debt Analysis.

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