In an effort to promote a full housing market recovery, some states are getting creative. Low interest rates have helped but not nearly to the degree that is needed for the housing market to be healthy. The Virginia legislature recently worked with the Virginia Association of Realtors on a new law that would incentivize first time home buyers to save for, and purchase a new home. This new law should help both the local housing market and the local banking industry.
Virginia residents that want to save money to buy a home can now receive additional benefits for doing so. Per the new law, anyone that invests up to $50,000 in a financial institution can call those funds a first-time home buyer savings plan. The term invest is used very loosely as it applies to funds that are put into a savings account, mutual funds, brokerage account, or most other financial accounts including stocks. The funds can then grow tax free, with a cap of $150,000. The funds can then be used for closing cost, lender fees, or anything else that appears on the closing statement. The goal is to make it easier for people to save for a new home and this in essence keeps more money in the hands of buyers, rather than going back to the government in the form of tax payments.
In order to qualify, a Virginia resident needs to be a first time home buyer. If they already own a home, they would not meet the standards necessary for growing the funds tax free. If a buyer was given a home and did not obtain a mortgage for it, they may still be eligible for the program.
This new law also helps first time home buyers that are planning on using gift funds for their down payment. Family members that want to help can put money into a savings or investment account, label it a first-time home buyer savings plan and use the interest or dividends to go towards closing cost and other fees on behalf of the first time home buyer. The caveat is that the funds have to be used for the first time home buyer in the future. This is an excellent way for families to get involved while growing their funds and obtaining tax advantages. By passing a law that encourages individuals and their families to grow funds tax free, Virginia lawmakers are hoping to strengthen the housing market and local mortgage industry. Delegate Tag Greason sponsored the bill saying, “By supporting this plan, Virginia re-enforces the commitment we have to our younger citizens, our families, and the overall recovery of the housing market.”
It will be interesting to watch how well the new program works and how many people use the first-time homebuyer savings plans over the next couple of years. Virginia is one of several states that are trying to strengthen its mortgage industry through creative financing programs, tax breaks, and other government programs. To learn what is available near you, contact your mortgage lender. They are the most knowledgeable resource for local and national mortgage loan programs and can tell you which ones you qualify for.