Yesterday, Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan urged Congress to pass three housing measures:
Extend the First Time Homebuyer Credit, with strong anti-fraud measures.
The First Time Homebuyer tax credit, which the Secretaries said has "brought families into the housing market and contributed to three consecutive months of rising home prices nationwide," provides a tax credit of up to $8,000 for qualified first-time buyers purchasing a principle residence. Single filer homebuyers with incomes over $125,000 (or $225,000 for married couples) and homes costing more than $800,000 are not eligible for the tax credit. Originally set to expire on December 1, 2009, the tax credit is proposed to be extended until April 30, 2010. The Administration also urged Congress to :include strict measures to combat tax fraud and protect responsible homeowners," such as setting a minimum age for home purchase and requiring documentation proving the purchase in order to receive the credit.
Extend Loan Limits for Mortgage Loans.
The Administration supports the one-year extension of loan limits that would be considered in the upcoming Continuing Resolution. This would extend the time for the temporary higher limits on the size of home mortgages Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration are able to buy or guarantee. The loan limits in certain costly housing markets were raised temporarily to approximately $730,000, but without Congressional action will be reduced back to $625,000 on January 1, 2010.
Secure Financing for the Housing Trust Fund.
The Housing Trust Fund was created in 2008 under HERA legislation, but has not had adequate funding to fulfill its mission to "help provide decent housing for families hardest hit by the current economic downturn." The Housing Trust Find would make grants available to state and local governments to support both rental and home ownership programs for low-income families and individuals. While the President's budget proposed $1 billion of funding for the Housing Trust Fund, the Administration is looking to work with Congress to identify a specific offset to assure that level of financing for the Fund