Presented by Jason Kenny Loans of Fifth Third Bank Mortgage The National Association of REALTORS reported in late September that recent sales for existing homes declined slightly, to an estimated annual volume of 4.91 million units for 2008. Recent tightening in mortgage lending has created challenges for some of today's home buyers. According to Freddie Mac, the thirty year fixed rate mortgage hovered in the mid 6 percent range. Officials are hoping that recent actions taken by the Federal government will create stability in the housing market. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS, says, "With higher loan limits and a beefing up of the FHA program, all the mechanisms have been falling into place to increase mortgage availability." In other news, the House of Representatives passed the Veterans Construction and Extension Act of 2008, which helps Veterans achieve their dreams of home ownership. The bill has been passed on to the Senate for finalization. If you're in the market for a home, contact us for information on FHA, VA, and other mortgage programs that might be right for you. Finance Q and A: Q: How does the $7500 tax credit work for today's first time buyers? A: The $7500 tax credit is not really a tax credit as much as it is a tax-free loan. As a first time buyer, you are allowed to apply 10 percent of your purchase price, or as much as $7500, as a tax credit on your return. This can put money in your pocket when you file your taxes, but keep in mind that this money will need to be paid back to the government in small installments over the next 15 years. Even so, this is a tremendous incentive for first time buyers looking to take advantage of today's market opportunities. Tip of the Month: With credit markets tightening as financial institutions deal with recent liquidity challenges, it is now more important than ever that home borrowers get their financial house in order when applying for a loan. Be sure to review your credit report with your mortgage professional and get pre-approved for your loan before making an offer on a home. A little preparation goes a long way and can mean all of the difference when it comes to closing on that dream home.