The homebuyer tax credit expires April 30. To qualify, you must have a valid purchase contract, signed by buyer and seller, on or before that date. You have to close by June 30.
If you're a weekend home shopper, the deadline means that you have one more weekend to find a house. If you find a house this Sunday, you will have just five days to negotiate. At this point, buyers and sellers are going to be extra motivated, because if they can't agree by midnight on April 30, all sense of urgency disappears.
A few weeks ago I asked some economists what would happen to house prices in the final weeks before the tax credit's expiration. My prediction: House prices would go up in the last week or two, because sellers would demand a cut of the tax credit. You could call it a procrastination tax. The economists told me that my hypothesis was theoretically sound in a normal real-estate market, but they didn't think there would be much effect on prices in the real world, because sellers are desperate in most markets.
What do you think? If you were selling your home right now, would you hold the line on price, knowing that the buyer will collect a tax credit of up to $6,500 or $8,000? Me, I'd be too wimpy to extort a piece of the tax credit, but my wife is a different story. Just one of the reasons that I like her so much.