Although encouraging reports on the state of the economy have already begun surfacing, consumers still remain wary when it comes to jumping into the housing market. What many do not realize is that now is the best time in several years to sell or buy a home and the opportunity to benefit is quickly slipping away. As a result of existing home values decreasing, many homeowners are remaining in their homes and waiting to sell in hopes that the value will appreciate. On the other side of the coin, consumers who do not own homes are reluctant to purchase until the economy improves. Both of these scenarios have led to a stagnant housing market, as consumers fail to realize the benefits and opportunities today’s housing market provides. Now is an opportune time for consumers get off the fence and jump into the market. Why it’s a great time to buy a home: ► The First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit provides up to $8,000 towards the purchase of a home if you or a spouse have not owned property for three or more years. ► Georgia House Bill 261: provides a state tax credit of 1.2 percent of the purchase price or $1,800 (whichever is less) to any buyer of one eligible single-family residence. This tax credit expires after Nov. 30, 2009. ► We are currently in a buyer’s market and prices are at all-time lows. Bank-owned homes in particular offer an attractive and affordable option. ► Homebuyers can take advantage of historically low interest rates. Why it’s a great time to sell a home: ► Homeowners having difficulty paying their mortgage can negotiate debt forgiveness on their principle residence. ► Selling a home at its current, albeit low value gives the homeowner the attractive option of buying a replacement property at a depressed value and take advantage of historically low interest rates. ► The Georgia House Bill 261 tax credit can be used by those purchasing a single-family residence home regardless of whether they have recently owned another property. Taking the plunge and buying or selling a home is a serious financial commitment that should be a carefully researched. However, savvy consumers that are eligible for one or more tax credits that act quickly can make quite a successful deal in today’s market. Howell Haunson is director of education for Morris|Hardwick|Schneider, one of the largest real estate closing law firms in the United States, and LandCastle Title, M|H|S’ title company. He also serves as vice president of LandCastle. Haunson has been practicing real estate law for more than 25 years. He is an adjunct professor of law at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Georgia Real Estate Closing Attorneys Association and is actively involved in presenting lectures and seminars relating to real estate issues throughout the country.