Stimulus Bill A Good Start, NAR

The National Association of Realtors® hailed the Senate for passing its stimulus bill that expands the homebuyer tax credit, an important housing component that will help shrink housing inventory, bring stability to home values and move the country closer to an economic recovery.

The bill now heads to conference committee to reconcile differences between the Senate and House versions. Congressional leaders hope to have the bill ready for President Obama’s signature by the weekend. NAR will continue to press the need for housing stabilization measures with Congress and the Obama administration to make housing a primary component of the government’s economic recovery plans.

Additionally, NAR commended the Obama Administration for the financial stability plan announced today by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Geithner stressed the importance of improving the housing market by reducing foreclosures, making credit more available and by bringing mortgage interest rates down.

“We are pleased with his proposal and are eager to see the Treasury’s final plan. NAR stands ready to work with the administration to reduce foreclosures and make homeownership more attainable for thousands of Americans,” said Charles McMillan, NAR president. NAR believes that many of the actions called for in the Treasury plan should result in lower mortgage rates and fewer foreclosures.

About the tax credit, McMillan said, “The credit of up to $15,000 for homebuyers is a critical provision in the Senate bill that will result in approximately 1 million additional home purchases this year,” McMillan said. The provision also eliminates the repayment feature of the earlier tax credit, makes the credit available for all purchases of primary residences and extends the credit for one full year. These are all provisions NAR has continually called for in any federal stimulus plans.

“This is a great effort by the Senate and a major step in the right direction, but our work is far from finished. Much more needs to be done in the coming days and weeks to bring stability to the housing market and to begin an economic recovery,” said McMillan.

“Today the country took a step forward in helping our economy begin its recovery. It is important for Congress and the administration to strengthen their focus on improving liquidity to both the residential and commercial mortgage market and make mortgage loans and other forms of credit more affordable and available to America’s working families,” said McMillan.

The Treasury’s plan anticipates lower interest rates through the ongoing Federal Reserve program to purchase mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The Treasury has also agreed to buy commercial MBS, a bold step in helping preserve the commercial real estate sector.

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