Bill would create First Time Home Buyers Savings Program

By Bill Davis - The Center Square

COLUMBUS — New home buyers in Ohio may soon find out getting a house will be a bit easier on the wallet.

The Ohio Senate Ways and Means Committee is discussing a bill that would create a First Time Home Buyers Savings Program that would allow potential first-time homebuyers to bank money that could be tax deductible.

Sens. Theresa Gavarone, R-Sandusky, and Bob Peterson, R-Chillicothe, introduced the bill, which recently held a third reading in the committee.

The bill would allow potential homeowners to open savings accounts in any financial institution in Ohio. Account holders could then deduct up t $5,000 annually for individuals or $10,000 for joint fillers, with a total cap of $50,000 and $100,000.

In 2018, the most recent year for fiscal data, about 35% of the 150,000 homes bought in Ohio were by new home buyers. However, other states with similar options report that as few as 10% of eligible home buyers actually participate in the program.

Using data from other states, the Ohio Legislative Budget Office determined taxpayers usually saved no more than $175 per year. This would put the total tax revenue lost to around $2.5 million.

The creation of the account, however, would potentially increase the number of homeowners in Ohio and possibly spur economic growth, according to business leaders.

“Even before this pandemic, many Ohioans who dreams of owning a home were struggling to come up with the money for a down payment,” Gavarone said. “It is clear that this legislation is needed to make homeownership more attainable for Ohioans.”

A pair of major Ohio financial groups agree. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce voiced its support of the bill during a recent committee hearing. At that same hearing, Ohio Realtor Association President Veronica Bedell-Nevels voiced her support.

“(We) have spent decades finding way to help people afford and purchase homes while fighting for the equitable rights of homeownership,” Bedell-Nevels said in a statement. “This bill creates the roadmap needed by so many to make this dream a reality.”

A final hearing has not yet been set.

By Bill Davis

The Center Square