In a 409-5 vote, House lawmakers have passed a standalone bill that would extend for three months Wednesday’s deadline for closing on a home purchase in order to claim the federal homebuyer tax credit.

The Senate could vote on the bill, HR 5623, as soon as tomorrow, although the death of Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., has slowed the pace of work in that chamber.

In a 409-5 vote, House lawmakers have passed a standalone bill that would extend for three months Wednesday’s deadline for closing on a home purchase in order to claim the federal homebuyer tax credit.

The Senate could vote on the bill, HR 5623, as soon as tomorrow, although the death of Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., has slowed the pace of work in that chamber.

Without an extension, the National Association of Realtors estimates as many as 180,000 homebuyers who were under contract by April 30 may miss the June 30 closing deadline, including 17,700 in California, 15,340 in Texas, 14,830 in Florida and 9,130 in New York.

"Keep your fingers crossed," said Lucien Salvant, an NAR spokesman, who said prospects for quick passage of the bill are mixed.

While some observers think HR 5623, "The Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act," could sail through without further delay, there’s no guarantee it will come to a vote, Salvant said.

The Senate is already on record supporting an extension, having amended a bill on June 16 to push the deadline back to Sept. 30. But other provisions of that bill, the "American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010," have proved controversial, prompting House lawmakers to introduce a standalone bill.

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