Tax Credit Uncertainty Not Benefiting Housing Market, by CJ Moore,

Could the home buyer tax credit be returning?

That’s the hot topic right now in housing, as secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan wouldn’t squash the idea when he was asked about it Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I think it’s too early to say after one month of numbers whether the tax credit will be revived or not,” Donovan said. “All I can tell you is that we are watching very carefully. … We are going to be focused like a laser on where the housing market is moving going forward, and we are going to go everywhere we can to make sure this market stabilizes and recovers.”
If Donovan were to follow his own advice – making sure the market stabilizes – he would be smart to provide some certainty to housing. By leaving the possibility open, Donovan could be postponing any chance of a recovery.

The housing market certainly needs a boost after the news last week that new home sales and existing home sales in July dropped to record low levels.

The tax credit certainly influenced these numbers. Many prospective homebuyers rushed to meet the April 31 deadline so they could receive the tax credit, and that undoubtedly interrupted the month-to-month flow of housing. By leaving the possibility open for another tax credit, it could have the opposite effect. Prospective buyers might hold out and wait to see if the credit returns.

With Donovan’s wishy-washy response on Sunday, the Obama administration had a chance to give a clearer answer on Monday, and White Press Secretary Robert Gibbs failed to do so, saying that bringing back the tax credit “is not as high on the list as many other things are,” but still leaving the possibility open.
Another tax credit could provide a boost, but it’s debatable whether that boost would really be beneficial in the long term. It could be best to sit back for a while and see what happens and focus on other areas that could benefit housing, such as unemployment.

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