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MO bill could help first-time home buyers

It would establish the First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account Act and give buyers a tax break.

ST. LOUIS – First-time home buyers in Missouri could get some help landing their new place. Lawmakers are pushing for a bill that would create a home buying savings program. And it could even put a little extra cash in buyers' pockets.

Drew Schaub spends his days at an architectural firm, designing homes. And he spends his free time shopping for one of his own.

“We’ve got to have three bedrooms, two full bathrooms. You know, the hardest thing to find is a closet for two people,” Schaub said with a grin.

He’s looking forward to no longer being a renter and the freedom that comes with it.

“I want the ability to do what you want with your space.”

But, as a first-time buyer, Schaub's facing stiff competition on the housing market.

“I’ve been to open houses where there’s easily 30-40 people in the house at one time. And thinking to yourself this looks like more of a bidding war than a negotiation.”

House Bill 1796, sponsored by Republican Representative Becky Ruth of Festus and supported by the St. Charles County Association of Realtors, could help level the playing field for first-time buyers. It would create an interest-bearing savings account specifically for home purchases.

“The biggest challenge is always coming up with the down payment and closing costs. So, I think this does help. This way they'll have their down payment ready to go,” said St. Charles County Association of Realtors President Rick Stokes.

Interest accrued on the accounts would be tax-free so long as the money is spent on a home purchase. And buyers would get a tax deduction once they've closed on the home.

“I like the idea of being able to put myself in a situation to have the money without borrowing it,” said Schaub.

And like an experienced homeowner, he knows that money will come in handy.

“Twelve months after buying a home, you can use every penny you can get your hands on.”

House Bill 1796 already cleared the Missouri House and is now in the Senate. If passed, the savings plans would become available January 1, 2019.