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Define 'first-time buyer'
Define 'first-time buyer'
Todd Sorg, 38, is a manager of accounting systems for the auto industry. He is seen here with his wife, Sylvia.
Question: "Is the new homebuyer tax credit really only for first-time buyers, and if so, who qualifies as a first-time buyer? How does it work if one spouse qualifies as a new buyer and the other does not?" - Todd Sorg, Auburn, Ind.

Experts: Robert Dietz, economist, National Association of Homebuilders

Answer: First-time homebuyers must not have owned a principal residence for at least three years prior to their purchase. For married couples, it's a test of both spouses: If either fails the three-year test, neither can claim the credit.

You are permitted to own an investment property or a vacation home and still qualify if you live in an apartment most of the year. Homebuyers must remain in the home for three full years to keep the rebate.

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Last updated February 24 2009: 6:58 AM ET
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