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U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says the reported success of a federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers in the rural western Iowa community of Carroll has been mirrored elsewhere in the state. Congress is now considering extending an $8,000 tax credit provided in the stimulus package. It has been set to expire at the end of November. Local realtors link the credit to a 28 percent surge in housing sales in the Carroll area so far in 2009. “I think a lot of us have heard back that this has been used very well in our respective states,” Harkin said. “I do know that generally in Iowa this has worked very well from what I’ve heard around the state.”
In response to questions from The Daily Yonder on a conference call with media Thursday, Harkin said he’s been heavily focused on health-care legislation and couldn’t handicap the chances for the housing credit extension. “I wouldn’t venture a guess on it,” Harkin said. “It’s just not clear.” But he supports the intent of the credits. “I’ve got to believe it would help and I’m all for people, as you know, first-time owners, buying a home and building up their equity in it,” Harkin said.
According to the Carroll Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which includes properties on the market in Carroll and neighboring areas, 127 homes have been sold through August. That compares with 99 over a similar time frame in 2008. While the number of homes sold has increased in a year-to-date comparison with 2008, the average sale price has dropped 19 percent — going from $110,000 in 2008 to $89,200 as of August this year. Carroll realtor and Chamber of Commerce president Mike Franey said the figures clearly are connected to the $8,000 tax credit for certain homebuyers provided through the federal stimulus package — the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “This is good for me to hear this because I will talk with other senators when it comes up and I’ll be able to weigh in on it,” Harkin said.