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Houses open nationwide June 27-28

This weekend's Nationwide Open House will provide first-time home buyers with an opportunity to view numerous homes, many at reduced prices, while the federal government's $8,000 tax credit still is available.

The Sequim open houses are part of more than 160 scheduled throughout the county. They will be open on Saturday and Sunday as part of the Realtors Statewide Open House event June 27-28.

"This weekend will be a prime time for those who want to see the variety of homes that are out there even if they are just window shopping," says Bill Humphrey, president of the Sequim Association of Realtors.

Realtors' latest survey of home buyers showed 53 percent are first-time buyers, much higher than the 40 percent of previous years, according to Laurence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

Since last May, the median home price in the Sequim area has decreased 13 percent, while the number of homes on the market has increased 18 percent.

"The window of opportunity won't last forever, as market activity has just started to pick up here," Humphrey said.

"And there are just five months until the tax credit expires. This coming weekend is an opportunity to shop before the sale ends," he said.

The Nationwide Open House event will help prospective home buyers take advantage of unique home market factors and the federal government's $8,000

first-time home buyer tax credit,

Humphrey said.

The Obama administration's tax credit program for first-time buyers expires Nov. 30.

It provides anyone who has not owned a home in the past three years with a 2008 or 2009 tax credit of $8,000 - or 10 percent of the home's value, whichever is less.

The buyer must live in the house for at least three years or pay back the credit. Buyers must make less than $75,000 for singles or $150,000 for couples. (Higher-income buyers may receive a partial credit.)

The tax credit may be applied to primary residences, including single-family homes, condos, townhomes and co-ops.

Local market reports show housing sales increased 92 percent in May and experts attribute much of that increased activity to the tax credit.

"That tax credit is invaluable for first-time home buyers, says Humphrey said.

"Qualified, first-time home buyers have a lot going for them right now. There is not much that should hold them back. I don't know how it could be a better time to start on the road to home ownership.

"For those searching, there is a home for them with reasonable payments in addition to possible money back from the government through the tax credit for first-time home buyers - all if they act soon.

For buyers who have been on the sidelines and have good jobs, the market has never looked more favorable."

The Sequim open houses are sponsored by Washington Realtors and the 32 local Realtor associations throughout the state.

The Sequim Association of Realtors has 200 members and represents an average 500 home buyers each year.

Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

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