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Oklahoma Home Buyers Cash-in on Stimulus Tax Credits

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Experts say stimulus-funded tax credits are good and bad for Oklahoma's housing market. Experts say stimulus-funded tax credits are good and bad for Oklahoma's housing market.
Experts said most first-time home buyers are buying cheaper, smaller homes, which has lead to the decrease in value of larger, more expensive homes. Experts said most first-time home buyers are buying cheaper, smaller homes, which has lead to the decrease in value of larger, more expensive homes.

By Jennifer Loren, Oklahoma Impact Team

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Over the past three years, Oklahoma's housing market has remained stable compared with the rest of the country. Now local experts said federal tax credits are keeping the market going.

To give us an example of how the first-time home buyer's tax credit works, Kristina Purvis invited the Oklahoma Impact Team into her new home. She is a single mom. Her daughter, Jersey, recently became very sick and now Kristina spends most of her time at home taking care of her little girl. Their new home is in a brand new subdivision in Owasso. They moved in last July.

"It feels great to be able to drive into my own garage and know that it's all mine, and its an accomplishment for me, and I really wanted it for me and my daughter," Purvis said.

Any day now, Purvis will receive an $8,000 check from the federal government. The first-time home buyers tax credit is part of President Obama's stimulus package. Purvis and 1.2 million other first-time home buyers have taken advantage of it. But, Purvis said it did not influence her decision to buy a home.

"It didn't really weigh on if I was going to build a house or not. I was going to build a house anyways," Purvis said.

Housing market experts said home buyers like Purvis are keeping the housing market going, even in Oklahoma. Joe Robson is the owner of a Broken Arrow golf course community called Forest Ridge and is the Chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

"Long term, the housing market is going to be very good. It will come back. It will stabilize," Robson said.

In fact, Robson credits the first-time home buyers tax credit with pulling the national housing market out of the gutter.

"When the stimulus package was passed in February we were at absolute bottom. It immediately got us off the bottom," Robson said.

But Robson also attributes the tax credit with lowering home values in Oklahoma. As first-time home buyers take advantage of the tax credit, they're buying smaller, less-expensive. That means sales of bigger, more expensive homes are in the minority. That lowers the state's average selling price.

"If you sell more at a lower price, averages are going to go down," Robson said.

According to the Oklahoma Association of Realtors, average home values decreased in the last quarter in about one-third of Oklahoma's housing markets. Altus, Duncan, Enid, South-Eastern Oklahoma, Texoma, Greater Tulsa and Western Oklahoma all saw their average selling prices fall in the third-quarter of 2009.

But, Robson said, a new expanded stimulus program should help even home values out. It's a $6,500 tax credit for current home owners looking to buy a new or existing home.

"This is a way to maybe get that next level up and start the momentum going where it's a little more widespread than just the entry level market," Robson said.

Robson said he expects the tax credits to generate about 1,800 home sales that would not have occurred in Oklahoma without them. He said that will be a boost for the state's economy.

"When people move they buy new carpet and new paint, new appliances. So there's a ripple effect throughout the whole economy," Robson said.

First-time home buyer Kristina Purvis said, for her, the tax credit means a whole lot more.

"The $8,000 is going to allow me to stay home with her that much longer. So it's a great thing for both of us," Purvis said.

To qualify for the tax credits home buyers must be under contract by April 30th of this year and must close by the end of June.

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