From the Record:
Maryeth and Andres Valle of Cliffside Park figured they’d buy a condo at the end of this year — until they realized that if they signed a contract by April 30, they could take advantage of an $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time buyers.
“My husband said, ‘Why not jump on it now?’ ” said Maryeth Valle, a 26-year-old nurse. The couple recently signed a contract on a two-bedroom condo in Hackensack, and expect to qualify for the tax break.
“It was definitely a big factor,” she said.
With the deadline only days away, a number of North Jersey real estate agents say first-time buyers are rushing to qualify for the tax credit. (A $6,500 tax credit for repeat buyers appears to be drawing less interest, agents say.)
National statistics point to a rise in activity related to the tax credit deadline.
Existing home sales jumped 16 percent in March from a year earlier, the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday. And pending sales — those in which contracts have been signed — were up 19 percent in February, compared with a year earlier.
“There’s definitely a spike, especially in places like Clifton, where the prices are geared to first-time buyers,” said Tony Sanchez, a Weichert agent in Clifton.
More than half of the 20 North Jersey real estate agents interviewed by The Record say the tax credit has motivated buyers.
But at least half a dozen said the activity was less than they expected. High unemployment rates have held back many would-be home buyers.
“The tax credit has been a bust this spring unless you’re in the $350,000-and-under market,” said Barbara Weismann of Friedberg Properties in River Vale. “There are still folks who are waiting to take any action on buying a home. They have no concerns regarding interest rates, and fully expect that the longer they wait, the better values will become. And there are also many people who are in fear of losing their jobs.”
Other agents said the tax credit by itself is not enough to motivate buyers, unless they’re sure they’ve found the right property at the right price.