Monday, September 01, 2014

Government programs give boost to some residents

By VICKIE MOSS, Herald Public Affairs Editor | 11/10/2009

Some residents were able to take advantage of two programs designed to stimulate the struggling housing and car industries — but only if they qualified.

The Homebuyers Tax Credit program, which recently was extended by Congress, offers up to $8,500 in tax credits to first-time homebuyers.

Some residents were able to take advantage of two programs designed to stimulate the struggling housing and car industries — but only if they qualified.

The Homebuyers Tax Credit program, which recently was extended by Congress, offers up to $8,500 in tax credits to first-time homebuyers.

The Cash For Clunkers program earlier this summer offered up to $4,500 to people who traded in a gas-guzzler for a more fuel efficient model.

The programs had mixed results locally.

The credit for homebuyers helped several clients of Tammy Ellis, Century 21 Realty.

“With the first-time homebuyer who just wasn’t sure financially if this was the right time to buy, this helped,” Ellis said.

She found some people had misconceptions about the program — the credit applies to up to 10 percent of the loan so a buyer may not receive the full $8,000, and buyers still had to qualify for a mortgage loan.

Misconceptions surrounded the Cash for Clunkers program, local automotive dealers who participated in the program said.

The first week the program was offered, about 90 percent of potential customers found out they didn’t qualify, Jim Tawney, owner and dealer of Creason-Tawney GM Center, said. He recalls receiving 30 phone calls about the program in one day, and most did not qualify.

Of course, Tawney said, some of those unqualified customers were able to find a used vehicle that suited their needs. That was a good side effect from the program, he said.

In the end, Creason-Tawney sold six Cash For Clunkers vehicles.

South Star Chrysler sold three vehicles with the program, while Ottawa Ford didn’t participate.

The program likely didn’t provide an increase in business at South Star, Bee Symons, sales manager, said.

“The ones we sold were people who were thinking about it anyway,” Symons said. “I can’t say it was a positive effect.”

Both Symons and Tawney said business has been down since the program, but that just as likely could be attributed to the economy.

“Things are getting back to normal conditions — normal for now, not like it was 2-1/2 years ago,” Tawney said. “Hypothetically, did it take business away from the future? It’s hard to tell.”

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