July 6, 2010 Update: The deadline for closing on home purchases has been extended from June 30 to Sept. 30, 2010.
Were you able to take advantage of the $8000 tax credit for first home buyers and $6500 credit for repeat buyers this past year? Even though the program has expired (except for active service members who may qualify for a one year extension), you might be surprised to discover other tax credits, programs, incentives, and rebates are still available for home buyers.
These other credits and rebates aren’t widely advertised and do require a bit of investigative work by the homeowner to find. You can start your search with these ideas:
The Energy Star Program. Energy Star is a joint program of the US Department of Energy and the US Environmental Protection Agency. The purpose of the program is the promotion of energy efficiency.
While many homeowners associate Energy Star with new construction, there are a number of tax credits offered to buyers of used homes who are looking to improve energy efficiency. According the Energy Star website, these tax credits include the following:
* 30% of cost up to $1500 for biomass stoves, metal and asphalt roofs, water heaters, insulation, windows and doors, HVAC systems. This tax credit offer expires December 31, 2010.
* 30% of cost with no upper limit for geothermal heat pumps, residential wind turbines, and solar energy systems. Tax credit expires December 31, 2016.
* 30% of cost up to $500 per .5 kW of power capacity for fuels cells. This tax credit program also expires December 31, 2016.
Some of these tax credits apply to primary residences only, while others can be used on rental properties or secondary homes. For a complete rundown of the program, check out the Energy Star rebate program here.
Local Utility Company rebate programs, tax credits, incentives, and freebies. Electric, Water, and Gas companies are another underutilized resource for rebates, tax credits, and freebies. Many local gas companies offer cash incentives when upgrading to a gas furnace system. Certain water companies offer rebates when switching to a tankless water heating system. Where I live, Idaho Power (to use as an example) offers great rebates and freebies such as these:
* Up to a 15 cent per SF rebate on attic insulation
* Incentive rebates for purchasing Energy Star appliances
* $30 rebates for removal of old refrigerators and stand alone freezers
* Free weatherization of electrically heated homes for qualified customers
* $1000 incentive for installing a ductless heat pump
* $7 a month summer rebate for allowing your AC to be cycled during peak use times
* Free energy evaluations
Utility rebates and available tax credit programs vary with providers; learn what tax incentive programs are available in your area by visiting your utility provider’s web page.
National Park Service: Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives. If your home is on the National Register of Historic Places, you could be eligible for up to a 20% a rehabilitation tax credit. To qualify, the restoration work has to follow specific guidelines and be approved in advance by the National Park Service. You can learn more about this tax incentive program here or by calling your State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO).
Low interest home remodeling loans. Low interest home improvement loans are occasionally available in economically depressed communities, historical districts, and neighborhoods “at risk” in hopes of preserving the existing housing stock. Neighborhood Housing Services is one resource to check for low interest remodeling loans, your local mortgage company can also steer you in the right direction.