Home Tax Credit Extension Is Much Ado About Nothing

Unless you are among the 180,000 people who signed a contract to buy a house before May 1, yesterday's Senate gesture to extend the deal-closing deadline on the federal homebuyer tax credit is the proverbial drop in the bucket.

Does anyone think that the closing of 180,000 more home sales on the market, in a national inventory of 4,044,000, really matters?

All the Senate's amendment would do is give an additional three months to close the deal for those homebuyers who were already in the system, already under contract on a home purchase by April 30. Now those wannabe buyers might be able to relax, get their nails done and stop calling their lender every hour to ask why the guy is still at lunch. (Delays in getting loans approved was the main reason these 180,000 people couldn't close on time. Lenders say they are overwhelmed by the volume of applications caused by the tax credit. That, and by being an industry known for spending a lot of time on Facebook.)

But it's about 180,000 homes. That's all. Under the amendment, those buyers, and only they, could still hope to claim an $8,000 first-time homebuyer credit or a $6,500 tax credit for repeat home purchasers. I'm happy for them, really. But what's the hoopla about?