NAHB Urges Government to ‘Fix Housing First,’ Expand Homebuyer Tax Credit Program

By Keat Foong, Executive EditorWashington, D.C.–The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) urgently called on the government to “fix housing first.” In a teleconference with the media, NAHB president and CEO Jerry Howard urged the incoming Administration and the next Congress to take steps to address the housing slump which, he said, was at the root of the nation’s economic downturn.  Howard said housing and all its supporting industry make up about 15 percent of the nation’s GDP. He said it therefore makes sense that if the government stimulates the economy it should first “stimulate that sector which is the single-largest component” of GDP. He also pointed out it is the housing sector that has dragged down the financial sector, and noted that all the problem mortgages addressed by the Troubled Assets Relief Program are tied to housing.   NAHB proposes that the government expands the $7,500 homebuyer tax credit that was passed into law under the landmark Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 earlier this year. Howard said that the tax credit program under the 2008 housing act to aid first-time homebuyers has so far had “almost no impact” on improving the housing market. Among the proposals, Howard called on Congress to increase the tax credit from $7,500 to $12,000 to $22,000 depending on the cost of the area. He recommended that the recapture of the tax credit under the original housing law should be eliminated, such that homebuyers do not have to pay the tax credit back. And he proposed the tax credit should be expanded beyond first-time homebuyers to to all homebuyers purchasing a principal residence in 2009.