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Do I qualify as a first time home buyer if I sold my first home 3 years ago?

by Denise
(San Francisco, CA)

Almost three years ago my partner and I went through a divorce and sold our second house which we owned and in which we lived together. We had jointly been home owners since the fall of 2000. We closed the sale of our second home on March 9, 2007.

I am currently trying to buy a house on my own, in the same city in the Bay Area (Richmond, CA) and am in the process of negotiating the price with the seller. My Realtor is telling me that we should negotiate additional time, i.e. slightly delay opening and closing of the escrow, as that will buy me some time to qualify as a first time home buyer again.

In other words - if I close the sale on March 10, 2010, it will be 3 years and 1 day since I sold my previous house and that would make me first time home buyer. Is this true and more importantly, is it legal?

Will I really be considered the first time home buyer, despite the fact that I owned a home, moreover two of them, in the past? If that is true, will I then qualify for the $6,500 tax refund for 2010?

This is the first time I am buying a house on my own, so in a way I am the first time home buyer, but do not want to wait an additional two weeks without any reason.

If I do qualify, then waiting even longer than a couple of weeks would make sense.

Could you, please, advise?


Hello Denise;

This is a good question. I'm not an expert on the tax credit however.

I do know that there has to be a period of 3 years since you owned a home so your real estate agent is probably right about escrow.

The house has to be under contract no later than April 30, 2010 and close by June 30, 2010.

So if the contract date is the date which qualifies you for the tax credit, then waiting to go under contract would be your best option.

You can, go to the IRS website to see how the IRS states it.

So, I think your real estate agent is giving you some good advice.

If you can hold off some, get pre-approved for the mortgage, have a home inspection done and before you know it, your 3 year window will have passed and you put $6,500 in your pocket.

Hope this helps,

Jeff Ragan

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First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit
by: Gerald

Very interesting, I will have to look into this tax credit. I thought I did not qualify, but maybe I do. Good Question!!!

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