Congress has approved a one-year extension of higher loan limits for mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and an amendment that would extend the first-time homebuyer tax credit has been incorporated into a Senate bill to prolong unemployment benefits.

A procedural vote on the unemployment benefit legislation, HR 3548, is expected today, Congressional Quarterly reported, with final passage by the end of the week.

An amendment to the bill, introduced Thursday by majority leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., would extend the tax credit to apply to homes under contract by May 1. Homebuyers would have to close by July 1 to claim a credit equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price, up to $8,000.

That’s the same limit in currently in place for first-time homebuyers claiming a tax credit that’s scheduled to expire Nov. 30.

But Reid’s amendment would also expand the tax credit to allow longtime residents of the same principal residence to claim a tax credit of up to $6,500. Homebuyers would have to have owned and used their principal residence for any five-consecutive-year period during the past eight years to claim the exception for longtime residents. …CONTINUED

The amendment would also expand income limits from $75,000 to $125,000 for individuals and from $125,000 to $250,000 for couples, but the credit could not be claimed on purchases of homes exceeding $800,000. The amendment would also set a minimum age requirement of 18 to claim the credit.

The extension is supported by the Obama administration, which also urged Congress last week to approve a one-year extension of the temporary $729,750 loan limit in high-cost housing markets for mortgages backed by FHA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

The House and Senate passed a resolution Thursday to extend the limits through 2010, which the Obama administration was expected to sign on Friday or Saturday, the National Association of Realtors said in welcoming the move by lawmakers.

FHA, Fannie and Freddie will continue to be authorized to guarantee loans of up to 125 percent of local median home sales prices, up to a maximum of $729,750 in high-cost areas. The floor for FHA in normal markets will remain $271,050, and $417,000 for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In a statement, NAR President Charles McMillan said the higher limits will help motivate qualified buyers to purchase homes in the middle-income and higher brackets, which have not shown the same improvement in recent months as homes at the lower end of the price spectrum.


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor.

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Last call for Inman Connect Las Vegas presale tickets! Register today before they're gone.REGISTER×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription