Elaine Abercrombie

Elaine Abercrombie (Roe Anne White photo)

It’s the best news in real estate since last year’s first-time homebuyer tax credit: An estimated $22 billion will pump into our economy as a result of the government not only extending the tax credit, but including current homeowners, too.

The existing $8,000 maximum credit will stay in place for first-time buyers. A “first-time” buyer is one who has not owned a home during the three years before the purchase.

However, repeat buyers who have lived in their home for five of the past eight years also may qualify for up to a $6,500 tax credit on their purchase.

Unlike before, as long as the property is under contract by April 30, buyers will have an additional 60 days to close by July 1.

The credit applies to single-family homes, condominiums, townhomes and co-ops.

The qualifying income limits have been increased, too — up to $125,000 for individuals and $225,000 for couples filing jointly.

If an individual makes up to $145,000 or a couple up to $245,000, the credit still ban be claimed, but at a reduced percentage. Any incomes more than those amounts won’t qualify.

If your tax credit totals more than your tax bill, you’ll receive a refund. About 2 million people are expected to take advantage of this buying opportunity, so jump to action before the April 30 deadline.

Elaine Abercrombie, a broker with Village Properties Realtors, is president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. She can be contacted at elaine@villagesite.com.