Pawtucket, RI – On Wednesday morning in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Pawtucket, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse toured recently sold properties, and led a conversation with Rhode Island realtors, homebuyers, and housing advocates on conditions in the real estate market and how to give Rhode Islanders a fair shot at owning an affordable home.
During the tour, Whitehouse visited properties that Pawtucket nonprofit Blackstone Valley Community Action and local realtors have marketed and sold to first-time homebuyers. Whitehouse then led a roundtable discussion on a range of topics, including pending federal legislation, foreclosures, and access to mortgages. With the Senate set to consider extension of key tax provisions designed to benefit homebuyers and sellers, Whitehouse heard feedback from the group on what needs to be done to improve a housing market still recovering from the real estate downturn.
“Every Rhode Islander deserves a fair shot at owning an affordable home,” said Whitehouse. “Rhode Island is still feeling the effects of the downturn in the real estate market, which erased a lot of home equity and left many homeowners owing more than their house is worth. But with the right support and incentives in place I am confident our real estate market can recover fully, and help lift our whole economy. I am grateful to everyone who joined this important conversation today.”
This fall, the U.S. Senate is expected to consider the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act, which would extend provisions that benefit homebuyers and sellers, including a tax exclusion for forgiven mortgage debt and a deduction for mortgage insurance premiums. The mortgage debt exclusion would allow Rhode Island borrowers who had their mortgage debt forgiven through short sales or mortgage modifications to avoid paying taxes on the discharged debt, which is normally treated as income for purposes of taxation. Extending the deduction for mortgage insurance premiums would decrease the tax burden on those purchasing mortgage insurance, which is usually required of homebuyers who purchase homes with down payments of less than twenty percent of the home value. By lowering the overall cost of mortgage insurance, more Rhode Islanders will be able to afford the monthly costs of home ownership.