Amid signs that housing measures might be winning support on Capitol Hill, the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) urged lumberyard executives to press their senators to pass amendments to the economic stimulus bill expanding the homebuyer tax credit and reduce mortgage rates.

"The provisions, supported by NLBMDA and the Fix Housing First coalition, are essential to reviving housing and our economy," NLBMDA wrote in an e-mail distributed to dealers.

NLBMDA in particular asked dealers in Kentucky, Georgia, Nevada and North Dakota to call their senators and thank those leaders for their support of housing measures. Among the officials it applauded was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who it quoted as saying: "We're going to recommend, for example, you go right at the housing problem. We have a 4% mortgage proposal where creditworthy homebuyers could buy down their mortgages or save them on the average $5,600 a year. Let's fix housing first. That's what started all of this."

NLBMDA proposes:

  • Increasing the Home Buyer Tax Credit to up to 10% of the home price or $22,000 for primary residents purchased between April 2008 and December 2009.
  • Discounted 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.
  • Extending the bonus depreciation and increasing Section 179 expensing provisions for at least one year.
  • Extending the net operating loss (NOL) carryback to two years from five.

According to a report late Tuesday from the news service, "There appears to be bipartisan support for a new homebuyer tax credit equal to either 10% of the purchase price for new and resale owner-occupied homes or $15,000-whichever is less. For six months, this could add about $9.9 billion to the package; for 12 months, the cost is near $21 billion."

A New York Times blog reported Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was questioned about calls by Republican leaders for mortgage aid for homeowners to be possibly included in the stimulus package. "Reid suggested the proposals-subsidized mortgage refinancing at rates of 4.5% or lower-could cost from $300 million to $1 trillion," the Times said.