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Home-buyer tax credit: Do you meet the time limit?

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Takaaki Iwabu/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT/File

(Read caption) Tom Simon and his fiancee, Tera Caldwell, put a clock on the kitchen wall at their home in Raleigh, N.C. The couple bought their home in June using the home buyer tax credit.

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When President Obama signed an extension and expansion of the home-buyer tax credit into law Friday, he gave Realtors, homebuilders, and prospective home buyers a reason to cheer.

But the legislation also has many Monitor readers asking questions about whether or not they can take advantage of the offer — a tax incentive of up to $8,000 for new home buyers and $6,500 for those who have lived in the same home for five or more of the last eight years (more on this in a second).

On to the questions, with special thanks to Robert Dietz, an economist with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), for his expertise.

1. Michele: "My husband and I sold our house, which we resided in for 5.5 years in April and we have been renting since. We would have an offer on a house now (short-sale) so may not close until February. Would we qualify? As we are not currently owners, but renters. It’s a little confusing with some of the wording, when it says 'you must have occupied the home you owned for 5 of the last 8 years.' This almost seems to include renters, as well."

And along the same lines:

Michael: "How to calculate 5 years. From the closing date when I bought to closing date when I sell?

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