Another Boost to Florida Real Estate

by Rodney Forbes on June 30, 2009

uncle-samStarting July 1st, qualified first time home buyers will be able to use the federal tax credit of up to $8000 as part of their up front costs for buying a home.

Until now the tax credit could only be received after the buyers had closed on the home, and then filed their taxes. This upgrade will help many more potential home buyers with the ability to use the funds now.

The following is from the Orlando Sentinel

Starting Wednesday, Florida hopes to stoke its real-estate market by becoming one of the few states to offer $8,000 in down-payment assistance to qualified homebuyers so they can benefit upfront from a new federal tax credit.

Palm Beach County and surrounding counties have already seen an improvement in home sales due to the number of bank owned foreclosures and short sales available. This new stimulus will be an added boost to the local markets.

The state Legislature set aside $30 million to create the Florida Homebuyer Opportunity Program, aimed at first-time buyers and others who have not owned a home for at least the past three years. To qualify, an individual cannot earn more than $75,000 a year, while couples can’t earn more than $150,000.

“Here in Florida, rather than qualified buyers waiting to get the tax credit on the tail end of the process, in the form of a credit after they have filed the tax returns, it will allow them to get it upfront and let them use it for down-payment assistance and fees,” said David Hart, vice president of legislative and government affairs for the Florida Home Builders Association. He estimated that about five states are taking a similar approach.

The state’s program takes effect Wednesday, though the money isn’t expected to be available until later in July or August. The funds are being distributed through local government and nonprofit agencies that already provide down-payment help through the State Housing Initiatives Partnership, known as SHIP. Qualified homebuyers are entitled to $8,000 or 10percent of the property’s purchase price, whichever is less.

18 months to repay

Buyers who receive a down payment must file for the tax credit on their federal tax return next year and then repay the agency that lent them the assistance, according to the program, which was proposed by state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. The program gives buyers who qualify and get funds 18 months in which to repay the state, which allows them plenty of time to realize the benefits of the tax credit, part of the federal government’s massive stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The state program is intended to boost Florida’s slumping housing market. While the number of existing-home sales locally and statewide have been up for months now compared with a year ago, prices continue to be down 30 percent or more year-over-year depending on the market, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.

To receive the state’s down-payment assistance, the buyer must close on a property by the end of November. Housing agencies are still working out the details of how to distribute the funds, and state officials caution that four or five months is a relatively short time in which to qualify, find a home, obtain a mortgage, close on the property — and use the money. Qualified buyers who do not take advantage of the state program may still take the federal tax credit, which is currently set to expire in December.

Thanks to Mary Shanklin

If you are interested in buying or selling a home in the Palm Beach County area, specifically Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter and West Palm Beach, please visit my Forbes Realty website. For frequently updated information on foreclosures, short sales, real estate news and market conditions visit my South Florida Real Estate Report blog. There are many free reports as well as free access to MLS listed properties. You can also call 561-337-4810.


Rodney Forbes is a licensed Realtor®, certified short sale/REO specialist and broker for Forbes Realty of South Florida Inc. Rodney has co-authored the book “Should I Short Sale My Home?”. Get your FREE copy at



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