Real estate professionals and home builders are pushing for an extension and an increase in tax incentives to encourage homebuying. Otherwise, they argue, that it is very likely that the current housing uptick will end on Dec. 1, when the tax credit does.

The giddiness we see out there [about a recovery] is without merit, says Richard A. Smith, CEO of Realogy, which is the parent company of Century 21, ERA, Coldwell Banker, and Sotheby's International Realty.

Not everybody sees things Smith's way. Michelle Meyer, an economist with Barclays Capital in New York, says that while the tax credit did contribute to an increase in sales, some of the improvement reflects an improving economy.

Even if you say some of the gain is artificial, it's still true that we're seeing an increase in housing demand, and that shows fundamental strength, she says.

Mark M. Zandi, chief economist at Moody's, ignores this chicken-or-egg argument and points to an analysis he did that suggests increasing the tax credit to $15,000 for all home owners through the end of next year would result in 675,000 additional home sales.

Source: BusinessWeek, Prashant Gopal (09/11/2009)