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First-time buyer credit not a cure-all

Qualifying for mortgage is the real test

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A few weeks ago, I was taking the van service from my hotel in Manhattan to Newark Airport. It was early in the morning and the driver was listening to a talk show. I was half asleep and wasn't paying much attention to the squawking except at commercial breaks when I kept hearing advertisements from a local mortgage company about first-time homebuyer tax credits. The reason my thought processes kept waking up at the commercials was that: 1. It was such anomaly. There was a time, in the middle of this decade, when we probably heard nothing but commercials from mortgage companies, but that was at least two years ago. With the collapse of the housing market and, to some extent, many of the country's largest mortgage firms, we enjoyed mostly silence on the airwaves about residential lending. 2. Why would a mortgage company run ads about the tax credit, since credits really had nothing to do with getting a mortgage? The $787 billion stimulus bill President Obama signed into l...