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OPINION: Light at the end of the tunnel?

You will notice in one of the stories in our Focus section this week pertains to Mississippi’s furniture industry and how there is a hope that the embattled industry may have turned the corner to recovery.

In trying to the connect the positive dots for Mississippi, there could be a correlation between Mississippi’s hopeful trend and what real estate agents around the state have been saying for the last six weeks or so.

Many real estate agents have been reporting brisk sales for more than a month, and they say it has to do with the fact that mortgage rates have never been lower and the tax credit provision in the economic stimulus bill.

The bill enacted this year provides a tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time home buyers. Unlike the $7,500 tax credit enacted last year, this credit doesn’t have to be repaid. And you don’t have to wait until you file your 2009 tax return to get your money.

The tax credit is available for first-time home buyers who purchase a home before Dec. 1. You can claim the credit on your 2008 or 2009 tax return, according to the IRS. However, you can’t claim the credit until after you’ve purchased your home.

One agent in the Mississippi Delta said she is using the tax credit as a major selling tool in the homes she has for sale.

According to her, it is working.

Not only has it been working, but for the last six weeks or so homes have been selling fast and furious.

Families aren’t just using the tax credit to get a cheaper home; they are using the money to update the homes, once they are in — like replacing old carpet or giving the place a fresh coat of paint.

They are even using the tax credit money for buying new furniture.

How about that?

The furniture industry, which admittedly was a bit management top heavy leading into the recession, now believes it is on the way to recovery at just about the same time some Mississippi Realtors say sales are beginning to go up based on folks being able to afford mortgages and having a little extra money to purchase furniture.

Having said all of that, no one is suggesting the recession is going to end in the next six weeks.

In fact, most analysts believe the recession will last at least until the end of the year, if not longer. That does not mean, however, there won’t be some bright spots along the way.

In this instance, if you are looking for a home, there couldn’t be a better time than now to buy.

Secondly, if you are a first-time home buyer, tapping into the tax credits is easy.

Lastly, here’s hoping the trickle-down effect of the tax credit and low mortgage rates mean much-needed help for Mississippi’s furniture industry.

Contact MBJ managing editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com.

About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.

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