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No 'frenzy' to beat homebuyer tax credit deadline

By Les Christie, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The $8,000 homebuyer tax credit has had an impact: Reports from around the nation are that contract signings have been way up the past few weeks as people prepare for the credit to expire on Friday.

All contracts must be signed by April 30 and deals closed by June 30 if buyers want to get the credit, which is worth up to $8,000 for first-time buyers and $6,500 for people looking to trade up -- or down.

"People are rushing around trying to get deals done," said Lennox Scott, head of John L. Scott Real Estate, a leading broker in the Pacific Northwest.

Most deals that would qualify for the credit, however, have already gotten done; there's been little last-minute shopping. "We've seen a lot of people working to get in well before the expiration of the tax credit," said Jim Mallozzi, CEO of Prudential Real Estate.

"We haven't experienced any last-minute frenzy," added David Krieger, a Coldwell Banker broker in the Philadelphia, "but there has been a significant up-tick in business over the past 60 days."

Most buyers were well-aware of the deadlines and were working hard to get deals done in time. "We had buyers this week saying, 'I hope my offer gets accepted by Friday," said Diann Patton of Coldwell Banker Grass Roots Realty in the Sacramento, Calif., area

March was her office's biggest contract-signing month in five years and another 75 contracts will ink in April. That was approximately twice the number signed in April of 2009; only 10 came during the final week.

While there was no buying frenzy, there was a late flurry of interest in some markets.

"I did a lot of showings in the past week, but most buyers are already under contract," said Mary Hartley, a Coldwell Banker agent in Cranbury Township in western Pennsylvania.

She reports that some first-time buyers even put off their purchases, mostly because they couldn't find anything they wanted to buy, losing their final opportunity to claim the tax break.

"They decided to pass because they couldn't find a suitable house," she said.

Coldwell Banker is trying to prolong the good times by convincing some of its sellers to offer their own kind of credit. Starting May 1, participating sellers will offer rebates of 3% of a home's purchase price up to $8,000 for closing costs.

Lennox Scott does not expect buyers in the Northwest to see better deals after the credit ends. Inventory there in the mid to low price points is too tight.

"In lower price range, prices will stay fairly stable because we're so under supplied," he said. To top of page

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