Housing Stimulus Good For Home Builders – Is it Good For America?

New Home builders, big and small, would be among the winners if the $838 billion stimulus measure the U.S. Senate passes today.

The Senate bill seems to be more generous to home builders than the House was in the $819 billion measure it passed last month.

President Barack Obama, who spoke to the nation last night, has said he wants stimulus legislation signed by this weekend. President Obama is counting on the plan to help revive the economy. The economy has lost 3.6 million jobs since December 2007. This has caused the unemployment rate to soar to the highest level since 1992.

To quote a Bloomberg wire: “In a bill this big, there are countless private-sector winners and losers,” Rogan Kersh, associate dean of New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service was quoted as saying.

The Senate cleared the stimulus proposal yesterday by a vote of 61 to 36. There were three Republicans siding with Democrats.

It’s quite possible that U.S. home builders could see sales increase if consumers tap into the planned tax credit of $15,000, or 10 percent of the purchase price, whichever is less, under the Senate legislation.

Morningstar analyst, Eric Landry said “If someone’s going to give you $15,000 in free money it has to be stimulative”.

The proposed new tax credit does not have to be repaid. And it appears that all home buyers are eligible for the home purchase tax credit. This proposed home tax credit would replace the $7,500 tax credit for first-time home buyers that was passed sometime last year. In addition to the amount of the proposed home purchase tax credit, another difference is that the $7,500 home tax credit had to be repaid over 15 years.

Jerry Howard, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Home Builders stated, “We’re pretty happy with the way the Senate bill is shaping up. We think it will entice a lot of those people sitting on the sidelines into the marketplace.”

As a home builder building new homes in the Washington D.C. area, I feel lucky because our area inside the Washington D.C. beltway is relatively strong. Values have held up and business is steady. So I can see real benefits to home builders, subcontractors and home building and remodeling vendors.

We also work with a large number of families and individuals that are just starting out and are looking for their first home to purchase. So it will be a huge benefit to individuals and families like that. But I’m not sure it is the best thing in the long run for our economy.

What do you think? Let me know your thoughts and comments.