State Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Bucks/Montgomery) highlighted the benefits of legislation he introduced with Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) that would create a First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account Program in Pennsylvania during a press conference last week at a listing in Quakertown. He was joined at the event by Gilbertsville Realtor® Greg Herb, past president of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors®, Quakertown Realtor® Paul Myers and first-time homebuyer Alicia Walck.
“Since the 2009 financial crisis, the number of first-time homebuyers has decreased significantly. According to the National Association of Realtors®, the share of first-time homebuyers in the national home sale market has fallen from 45 percent to just 32 percent,” Mensch said. “Homeownership strengthens communities and provides stability for families. A First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account will be an important tool in helping people overcome the financial obstacles to home ownership.”
To help reverse that trend, Mensch’s bill would allow first-time homebuyers or buyers re-entering the housing market to set up 10-year tax-deductible savings accounts for purchasing a home. Parents and grandparents also would be eligible to contribute to these accounts on behalf of children and grandchildren.
The program has the potential of boosting home sales by 4,000 per year across Pennsylvania while delivering an economic impact of up to $68.8 million, according to the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors®.
Myers, a Realtor® for 14 years, said many young buyers are burdened with high rents and college debt, making it difficult for them to save for a down payment and closing costs.
“The First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account could help reduce some of the hurdles these young people face,” he said. “But this program is not a handout. It offers an incentive and encourages people to save more of their own money toward the cost of buying a home.”
In a survey, more than 80 percent of Pennsylvanians said the First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account would be beneficial to the state.
Walck and her husband, Jeremy, have two young children and outgrew their apartment. They lived on a strict budget to pay off college loans and save money for a down payment. After a long and sometimes stressful search, they recently purchased their first home.
Even though the First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account won’t help them, Walck said she supports the program for the sake of “families like ours who dream of owning a place to call home.”
For more information about the First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account, visit FirstHomePA.com.