NLBMDA calls for housing stimulus

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) is calling on Congress to take bold action before the end of the year to boost the housing market.

Specifically, the NLBMDA seeks an extension of the Home Buyer Tax Credit for primary residences purchased between April 2008 and December 2009, to up to 10 percent of the home price up to a maximum of $22,000, depending on geography. In addition, buyers should have access to discounted 30-year fixed-rate mortgage financing that would encourage eligible home buyers to enter the market.

The organization pointed to the success of a similar credit plan in the 1970s.

"In 1975, Congress passed a short-term home buyer tax credit for all new homes, coupled with subsidized mortgage rates," said NLBMDA president and CEO Michael O'Brien. "This stimulus jump-started the depressed housing market then, and the effects continued long after the measure expired. We believe Congress must once again take bold action to restore consumer confidence in the market."

The NLBMDA is also urging Congress to extend bonus depreciation and increased Section 179 expensing provisions for at least one year. The move would promote investment during the current economic downturn, according to the group. The Economic Stimulus Act signed into law in February temporarily created a 50 percent depreciation bonus and increased the amount that small businesses can expense under Section 179 to $250,000, but those provisions are due to expire at the end of 2008. Additionally, the NLBMDA is asking Congress to extend net operating loss (NOL) carryback provisions from two years to five to allow building material dealers to discount current losses against past profits.

"Taken together these proposals will go a long way toward reviving the housing economy, which is key to overcoming our current economic crisis," said O'Brien. "We are calling on all our members to contact their members of Congress to urge quick action."

The NLBMDA believes that its housing stimulus proposal will create much-needed jobs. Almost 85,000 jobs have been lost in the past two months in the construction industry alone, mostly in specialty trades related to home building, according to the industry group.