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Strong September Home Sales Expected

Posted on 22 October 2009 by Carl Martens

With homebuyers rushing to complete their home purchase before the first time home buyer tax credit expires, a report Friday is expected to show strong September sales.

Home resales are expected to show an almost 5 percent increase to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million, up from 5.1 million in August, according to economists polled by Thomson Reuters. If the report meets forecasts it would be the best month for home sales in more than two years.

The National Association of Realtors’ report is scheduled for 10 a.m. EDT.

First time homebuyers and investors both are taking advantage of the low mortgage rates, short sales, foreclosures, and overall discounted homes.  The buyers are also eligible to take advantage of the tax credit of 10 percent of the sales price, up to $8,000 so long as the sale closes by November 30, 2009.

With concerns about the housing market still prominent, Congress is considering several proposals to extend the tax credit for first-time buyers. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., want to extend it through June 30, and expand it to include all home buyers, at an estimated cost of $16.7 billion.

One potential roadblock, however, emerged this week. There are concerns that some of the 1.5 million applications for the tax credit are fraudulent.

At a hearing before a House subcommittee Thursday, J. Russell George, the Treasury Department’s inspector general for taxes, questioned the legitimacy of some 100,000 claims for the credit, potentially including some illegal immigrants and 580 people under 18. The youngest taxpayers to apply for the credit were 4 years old, his office said.

While the program has widespread support in Congress, there are growing concerns about the costs. The cause, said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., “is a worthy one.” But “I hope we can find ways to pay for it.”

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