Homebuyer tax credits claimed so far: $23.5 billion
About 3.3 million Americans have claimed federal homebuyer tax credits so far -- $23.5 billion in all, including the 2008 incentive that must be paid back.
In Maryland, about 57,000 buyers have claimed $410 million in credits. That accounts for practically half the 120,000 homes sold through the multiple-listing service in Maryland from April 2008 -- when the program kicked off -- through July. (This assumes, of course, that each claim accounts for one home. There are legal and illegal reasons why it might not be one-to-one.)
The credit statistics, released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, are a tally of claims made through the beginning of July. So it's not the grand total yet, but it offers an intriguing snapshot of the credit's popularity and cost.
For instance: There might be a whole lot more homeowners than prospective first-time buyers, but many more first-timers got the $8,000 incentive than repeat buyers opting for the $6,500 credit. About 200,000 Americans claimed the smaller credit since it was made available in November, compared with about 400,000 who got the first-time buyer credit during the same period.
It was even more stark a difference in Maryland, the GAO says.
More than 8,300 Marylanders have claimed the first-time buyer credit under the new rules instituted in November. Repeat buyers? About 2,700. (Not all repeat buyers qualify. You had to be moving from a home you owned for at least five years of the past eight.)
That's about $80 million in claimed credits between the two groups.
By comparison, about 18,600 Marylanders claimed $127 million in credits for purchases made between April and December 2008, when the program was a no-interest loan of up to $7,500. Unless a lot of claims are waiting to be processed by the IRS or a bunch of homeowners plan to make their claims with their tax returns next year, that means the "loan" credit -- widely considered a non-starter -- was used by more buyers than the credit in its final iteration.
The January through November 2009 version -- up to $8,000 that didn't have to be paid back, available to first-timers but not repeat buyers -- was claimed by 27,000 Marylanders for a total of $203 million.
Was it worth the cost in foregone revenue? Do you think there ought to be a fourth sequel?
The way that HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan answered a CNN journalist's question a week and a half ago made some buyers think another credit could be in the offing, primarily because he didn't say "absolutely not." I checked in with HUD yesterday, looking for more clarity. A spokesman said there was no news to report about the credit.
The Treasury Department, meanwhile, pointed me to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' answer last week to a similar question. "While I have not seen, obviously, a final list, ... I think bringing that back is not on -- is not as high on the list as many other things are," he said.
Not that this exactly clears this up, I know.
UPDATE -- HUD had this to add today about the chatter over a homebuyer tax credit part four:
"As White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, that's not at the top of anyone's list right now," said HUD spokesman Lemar C. Wooley. "We will continue to be watching the housing market very closely. Our focus will be to ensure that we are implementing our existing programs successfully, but we'll continue to share new ideas on additional steps we can take to help the housing market improve."