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If you're thinking of buying a house
The stimulus package includes a tax credit of up to $8,000 for qualified buyers, if you buy a house this year. The property must be the first house you've owned in the past three years, and you must meet certain income requirements.

Those earning under $75,000 will get the full credit--10% of the house's sticker price--up to $8,000. If you earn between $75,000 and $95,000, you will get a smaller percentage back. For couples, the income threshold is set at $150,000 for a full credit, and up to $170,000 to get a smaller credit back.

For more information about the tax credits, read the FAQs put out by the National Association of Realtors and talk to a tax preparer or real estate lawyer about your eligibility.

In addition to the tax break, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) can now guarantee loans up to $729,750 in high-cost areas such as New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. But this is a temporary increase--access to the FHA program at these higher limits will end this year.

The FHA program is worth considering for anyone who doesn't have 20% to put down. The guarantee helps buyers secure a mortgage with as little as 3.5% of their own cash to invest.

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