Fed gets ready to end first-time homebuyer tax credit

Zachary and Elva Clevenger house-shopped for two years before deciding that now was the time to buy.

Prices and mortgage rates had come down. And the clock was ticking on the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers.

"It forced us to get moving," said Zachary Clevenger, who expects to close this month on a yellow, two-bedroom house in North Kansas City.

Just in time. Rates on home loans — now about 5 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage — are heading higher because the biggest bankroller of home loans is heading for the exit.

For more than a year, the Federal Reserve has been pumping $20 billion a week into the nation's mortgage market to make up for the lack of private investors willing to back home lending.

But the Fed has vowed to stop its spree at the end of this month. And there's little chance its policymakers will change their minds when they meet on Tuesday.

It is equally certain the Fed's exit means mortgage rates will rise. How much and how fast depends on which expert you ask, though estimates range from one third or one half of a point to perhaps a full percentage point by year's end.

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