U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin
(D-MD) joined with his colleagues today approving the
Foreclosure Prevention Act
by a vote of 84-12. While supporting the overall bill, Senator Cardin expressed his disappointment that two key provisions were not included in the legislation: changes to the bankruptcy laws related to primary residences and a tax-credit for first-time homebuyers to help stimulate the ailing housing market.
“This is a good bill with some good provisions – namely, $10 billion for Mortgage Revenue Bonds, $4 billion for Community Development Block Grants, and $200 million for foreclosure prevention counseling. I regret, however, that we missed two opportunities to make it even better,”
said Senator Cardin. “The first missed opportunity was our failure to adopt Senator Durbin’s provision regarding bankruptcy. I continue to be mystified why a bankruptcy judge can reduce the principal or modify the mortgage loan terms on a vacation home, but not on a primary residence. The second missed opportunity was our inability to get a vote on an amendment Senator Ensign and I offered to establish a $7,000 non-refundable tax credit for first-time homebuyers. I regret that we were blocked from considering that amendment on technical grounds.
“The tax credit Senator Ensign and I offered was timely, targeted, and temporary.
It included an income cap identical to those contained in the District of Columbia’s first-time homebuyers’ tax credit that has helped 3,000 to 4,000 people a year and boosted buyers’ interest.
It would be available only for the purchase of a primary residence made within one year of the date of enactment.
“I firmly believe that we need to encourage prospective buyers to get off the sidelines and back into the market. I intend to work with the conferees as this bill moves forward to ensure it includes my amendment, which provides an incentive for reluctant buyers to jump into the market sooner rather than later.”
Nationally, approximately 39 percent of home sales were first-time homebuyers. Locally, in Baltimore, first-time homebuyers have accounted for 65 to 67 percent of sales.