The passing of the $4500 “Cash for Clunkers” tax credit out of the House got me thinking. First, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that this is serious efficiency legislation- yes, it puts an incentive on deciding upon a fuel efficient vehicle, and that’s certainly more palatable than forcing higher efficiencies and limiting consumer choice. But this is about getting auto sales moving more than anything. And as an old car guy (I grew up around my father’s Chrysler dealership) I cringe when I hear that the “clunkers” traded in would be “recycled”- it’s a certainty that some very serviceable vehicles are going to be taken out of circulation. That means they won’t be available for resale to those who can’t afford a new car.

Let’s compare this incentive to the $8000 first time buyer tax credit, shall we?

Average new-car transaction price has dropped to $27,941, according to The Wall Street Journal. This means that the credit given is 16% of the average price- a pretty healthy incentive, and no restriction on who can buy, other than you have to move up in efficiency.

Compare this with the 2008 US Median Sale Price of $198,100 (per this NAR report) and the $8000 First Time Buyer Tax Credit, and we’re looking at an incentive of 4%. Still very nice, thank you, but think what a bump in the tax credit, to say $15,000 could do. Especially if it were paired with revisions making the credit applicable to all buyers of primary residences!

Danielle Hale, a research economist with the National Association of REALTORS(R) put together this analysis that shows each home sale at the median generating $63,101 in economic impact. That’s an enormous number, and one that drives activity in all sectors of the economy.

My opinion: The current home buyer tax credit is a good thing, but it would be a much more significant force in helping clear inventory and stabilize values with the changes noted above.

Governor Signs Important REALTOR® Legislation:
Public Act 96 Provides Significant Tax Relief for Sellers;

Governor Granholm signed 3 significant pieces of REALTOR® supported legislation. First, legislation enabling home sellers to retain 2 principal resident exemptions for property still on the market after the seller has moved elsewhere in the state. The signing of this legislation is a huge step in aiding struggling sellers who have had homes on the market for over a year and have lost their principal residence status on that property.

House Bill 4215, now Public Act 96 of 2008 sponsored by Representative Ed Gaffney (R-Grosse Pointe Farms) enacts that the seller can retain an additional exemption for up to three years on property previously exempt as the owner’s principal residence if the following circumstances are met:

  • the property is not occupied,
  • the property is for sale
  • the property is not leased or available for lease
  • the property is not used for any business or commercial purpose

The Michigan Association of REALTORS® (MAR) was active in pointing out to lawmakers that the struggling economy in Michigan has forced several home sellers to relocate to other areas of the state, in some instances continuing to market a home that they have not lived in for over a year. As a result, the home was no longer treated as a principle residence and the homeowner lost the principal residence exemption. Retention of an existing homestead credit for an unoccupied home that is currently for sale would offer relief to sellers who have had to relocate for whatever reason. The MAR is grateful to Representative Gaffney for being receptive and following through on this very important piece of property tax relief.

Source:  Michigan Association of REALTORS(R)