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Home-buyer's forum Saturday at CSU

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

In order to help potential home buyers take advantage of the recently expanded Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, the office of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) will host a First-Time Homebuyer's Forum at Clayton State University.

The forum, which will feature tips and information on the home-buying process, will take place on Saturday from 10 a.m., to 12 p.m., at the university's Student Activities Center.

Passed by Congress earlier this year, the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act offers a tax credit of up to $8,000 to people purchasing their first home. In November, Congress approved an expansion of the tax credit, offering a smaller credit of up to $6,500 for buyers who have lived in their home for at least five years and wish to "step up" into a new home, according to the White House web site.

According to Marie Gordon, deputy press secretary for Isakson, Saturday's forum in Morrow will be the third of its kind in the state since August. She said the forum will feature helpful commentary from, and one-on-one sessions with, representatives from several state and federal housing agencies.

"We had one in Gwinnett County and one in Lowndes County," Gordon said. "They'll go over best practices, federal tax credits. They'll [attendees] hear from professionals from the IRS, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the [Georgia] Department of Community Affairs. The U.S. Small Business Administration, the Federal Home Loan Bank, and the Mortgage Bankers Association of Georgia ... those three will have tables set up and will be able to speak, one on one, with attendees.

"We thought that this was a good way to get the information out to the people who are the most interested," she added. "It's also encouraging them to take advantage of the credit that is out there right now. We're hoping to get more interest from people in the 'move-up' market."

Prior to serving in the U.S. Senate, Isakson served as the president of Northside Realty for 20 years. He believes the $8,000 tax credit, and the recent $6,500 tax-credit expansion, can go a long way toward stabilizing the housing market.

"I pushed for this tax credit because I know that it will work," Isakson said Monday. "In the mid-1970s, America faced a similar housing crisis, and Congress responded by passing a $2,000 tax credit for anyone purchasing a new home for their principal residence. I was in the real estate industry in Atlanta at the time and the results were clear and swift as home values stabilized, housing inventory dropped and the market recovered."

Isakson said potential home buyers need to be aware of their credit scores and how much they can afford, as well as the lot size and median price of homes in the area where they want to buy. However, he said, "this workshop will introduce potential buyers to these issues and others, as well as the steps in the process of buying a home."

"I urge all Georgians who are thinking about purchasing a home to take advantage of this opportunity," Isakson said. "The key to returning stability to the economy lies within the housing market, and we have crafted a meaningful credit that will create a strong foundation for future growth and make a measurable difference over the next seven months in our economy."

According to the White House web site, the sunset date for the tax-credit program is April 30, 2010. A similar tax credit, offered to members of the uniformed services whose duties take them overseas, will expire in May 2011.

If an individual has a contract on a home, they can still qualify for the tax credit if they complete the transaction within 60 days after April 30, 2010, according to Gordon.

All persons interested in attending Saturday's forum at Clayton State University must make a reservation online at rsvp@isakson.senate.gov, or by contacting Isakson's office at (770) 661-0999. While registration is free, all attendees must register by Thursday at 5 p.m.

Clayton State University is located at 2000 Clayton State Blvd., in Morrow.