Feds Seek to Boost Homeowners and Buyers A Shot in the Arm

Fresh from hoisting up the banking and automobile sectors, a newly muscular Uncle Sam is now turning his attention to putting the skids on the real estate meltdown.

The Obama Administration earlier this year rolled out two major housing initiatives that combine one-part stimulation with one-part bailout.

The stimulus portion awards an $8,000 tax credit to first-time homebuyers, aimed at creating demand that will stabilize the housing market. The bailout portion allows some homeowners with mortgages the option of either refinancing at a much better interest rate, or having their mortgage payment modified down to 31 percent of their gross income.

While the housing initiatives are helping to thaw the chilly real estate market nationwide, their effect on properties in the Big Apple may not be so clear. As with many government programs, these rolled out of Washington in a one-size-fits-all mode. Unfortunately, their limited eligibility requirements make them a tight fit—or no fit for at all—depending on how much money you make, or where you live in New York City.

$8,000 in Real Money

The $8,000 tax credit is available to U.S. residents making less than $75,000 a year ($150,000 for couples) who purchase a house, condominium or co-op between January 1 and December 1, 2009.

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