Hoping to stoke a slight thaw in house sales, Virginia Fifth District congressman Tom Perriello (D) visited the home of Brent Yowell on Haden Terrace in Crozet July 13 to draw attention to the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time home buyers that Yowell said tipped the balance in his decision to buy.
“There are signs of hope [in the real estate market] in our area, especially in the below $300,000 price range” Perriello said. “This [tax credit] is really important.” The credit will expire on Nov. 30 but Perriello said it might be extended. “We’re trying to see what works. We want to build on success. We’ve heard very positive feedback on the credit.
“We don’t want to get back to helping people who can’t really afford a home to buy one,” Perriello said. “This is a push to get people back in the market.”
The credit helps people with other related expenses, such as closing costs or the need to buy appliances, he said, and therefore can have a trickle-down effect in local economies. Perriello said he originally favored a $15,000 credit for any homebuyer, but that idea did not survive the U.S. Senate.
Perriello said he “was not a big fan of the bank bailout.” But that “the homebuyer credit is exactly the right thing to do.”
Yowell agreed that it put him “over the hump.” He paid $199,000 for the 1,440 square-foot, two-bedroom townhouse in Old Trail, he said.
“It was an ideal location for me at an ideal price,” said Yowell. “They were throwing the tax credit idea out there when I was looking. I was first-time everything. I didn’t have any furniture.”
He said the credit “gave me the confidence to make that push and become a homebuyer.”
Yowell, who works for UPS as an on-road supervisor based out of Fishersville, liked the Crozet location because he believes he could be transferred to the Charlottesville UPS facility and wanted to position himself for that possibility. He moved in May 1. “I love Crozet,” he said.
The neighboring unit to his is being offered for rent at a rate of $1,250 per month. Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors president Michael Guthrie, the CEO of Roy Wheeler Realty, who was on hand, said the area’s “move-up market” (meaning detached single family homes) has a large inventory of vacant houses and that efforts to stimulate the sales of smaller homes are necessary. He said it is essential that mortgage interest rates stay low. The median price of a house in Charlottesville is now “a tad above” where it stood in 2005, he said, and that prices are getting to the point where people are willing to get back into the market.