For first-time buyers, purchasing a home can bring a level of paperwork far greater than any prior transaction. From offer to closing, there are plenty of new hurdles, new terms and sign-here tabs.
At least there’s a first-time buyer credit, right? Well ... real-estate agents like Cassandra Rowley, a Navy veteran based in the Seattle area, have been breaking the bad news to clients for a few years now.
“The one thing I hear over and over is that first-time home buyers will automatically receive a ‘first time home buyer credit,’” said Rowley, who teaches classes aimed at those new to the market. “There is no such thing.”
Not any more, at least: The federal First-Time Homebuyer Credit applied to homes purchased over a four-year span that ended in 2011, per the IRS website. A cursory web search shows details on the credit (and the fact that it’s long dead) appearing in investment and real-estate advice pieces dated as recently as last month.
The confusion could step from any number of factors: Buyers often seek advice from those who’ve recently purchased a home, which could include some who made their deals during that four-year window. There are also plenty of loan providers who tailor their advertising to first-time buyers, sometimes offering programs or benefits that may appear official.
Just because the credit’s gone doesn’t mean first-time buyers, particularly military ones, are left to fend for themselves. Three reasons why not:
- First-time buyers may not get a federal tax credit, but first-time users of their VA loan benefits will pay the lowest funding fees.
- Some state programs offer aid to first-time buyers, though it often comes with income and loan-size restrictions. Ohio’s program, for example, is available to some veterans who may not otherwise be eligible.
- Some Department of Housing and Urban Development grant money is earmarked for first-time buyers, though not directly: The federal cash goes through state and local programs, but those programs must meet certain benchmarks, such as offering classes geared toward first-timers.
Ready to take the leap? Stop by our VA Loan Center.
Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.