But how much has housing stimulus really helped?
Through July 3, 2010, the IRS reports a bill of $23.5 for the home buyer tax credit, according to a letter dated yesterday (September 2nd) from the Government Accountability Office to Rep. John Lewis, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight. $16.2 billion for the first time and move-up credits and $7.3 billion for interest-free loans which recipients will begin repaying in January.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has also already allocated nearly $6 billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which gives state and local governments and non-profit housing developers funds to acquire property, demolish or rehabilitate foreclosures and offer assistance to low- to middle-income homebuyers for down payments and closing costs. In the coming weeks it will add $1 billion to that. Just this week HUD Secretary Donovan gave NSP grantees a leg up over investors, by providing a first right of refusal for those grantees to buy foreclosed homes.
The talk around Washington is for yet another home buyer tax credit, this time perhaps for short sale and foreclosure buyers. Unfortunately every time we get a short-term stimulus, we get an inevitable drop off in sales and prices, as we're experiencing now. Yes, we saw a mini burst of buying from credits last fall and this spring, but the overall numbers are still way down, and inventories are still far too high.