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U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES English's bill would spur home sales



Published: Wed, June 20, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The program could be a boon to working families who need a little help buying a house.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

SHARPSVILLE, Pa. -- U.S. Rep. Phil English of Erie, R-21st, has introduced legislation that he says would help first-time homebuyers and stimulate the economy.

The bill would provide a 10 percent federal tax credit off the cost of a house up to a maximum of $6,500 for those who have not owned a home in the last three years, he said. It applies to both new and old homes.

The credit goes directly to homebuyers when they file their federal taxes, he said.

Anyone could apply for the tax credit regardless of their income. English said rapidly falling interest rates coupled with this tax break are all the help some families need to buy a home.

He announced the plan Tuesday in the kitchen of Darcy and Tom Wiesen's home at 2101 Sloan Wood Circle in South Pymatuning Township.

The Wiesens are first-time homebuyers who recently moved into their new 2,200-square-foot home.

The homebuyer program proposed by English would have helped with the financing of their purchase, Darcy Wiesen said, noting the family, with four children, made a lot of sacrifices to get their house.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are nearly 40 million potential first-time homebuyers unable to purchase a house because they lack sufficient cash for a down payment and closing costs, English said, noting the tax credit could be used to cover those expenses.

Industry: In addition to helping working families, the legislation would stimulate the housing industry, which could create a lot of good-paying jobs, said English, who is co-chairman of the Congressional Real Estate Caucus.

"This initiative enjoys strong broad support among real estate agents, homeowners and laborers," he said.

Congress last talked about this kind of assistance back in the 1970s but never took any action, English said.

"This is a very do-able provision," he said noting the estimated 10-year cost of the program would be $1.5 billion.

"This is a very easy sell in Congress," he predicted, although he cautioned that the recent switch in control of the Senate from the Republican to the Democratic camp could cause problems if the new Senate leadership isn't interested.

Support: The tax credit plan has the backing of both the Mercer County Builders Association and National Association of Home Builders, said John Gump, a member of the local group and owner of PLS Builders of Hermitage, which built the Wiesen home.

"It's a win-win situation for a lot of people," Gump said, noting it aids people who are close to buying a house as well as stimulates the home building industry.

gwin@vindy.com




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