The clock is ticking on the $8,000 tax credit
Determined to get the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers? Keep in mind that the Nov. 30 deadline isn't about signing a contract -- you need to get to closing no later than that day.
So says the IRS, which specifically uses the word "close." This matters because you'll want to allow at least 30 days -- and probably more like 60 -- for a normal transaction to go from contract to closing. Even if there's nothing unusual about the home you're buying, you could find yourself delayed by issues relating to the loan, the appraisal, the home inspection -- you name it.
That goes double if you want something more complicated, such as a foreclosure.
What if you're having a home built for you? The IRS says you have to be physically occupying the place by Nov. 30. More Q&As here. (Personal finance columnist extraordinaire Eileen Ambrose has also done a number of Q&As on the credit at the Sun's Consuming Interests blog.)
Some real estate sites, wanting to remind you that "now is the time to buy," have countdown clocks. (This one at the Maryland Association of Realtors webpage, for instance.) Where we stand as of this second: 103 days, 18 hours and 0 minutes, accounting for the extra hour we'll get Nov. 1.
Do you feel the pressure? Or do you have a "whatever will be will be" philosophy on the credit? (Or perhaps you're purposely waiting until the credit's gone?)
The Wall Street Journal, sounding a cautionary note, profiles a first-time buyer who recounts all the things he did wrong in the rush to get the $8,000. For instance, getting into a bidding war on a foreclosed home he saw only briefly, and not "taking into consideration taxes, homeowners' association fees, and the cost to fix up and maintain a distressed property."