The Federal Housing Administration will allow the new $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit to be applied directly toward home purchase costs when using an FHA-insured mortgage, the Department of Housing and Urban Development said on Friday.

The plan to monetize the tax credit up-front is aimed at more quickly stabilizing the housing market, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a statement.

But in detailed rules, the FHA will still require home buyers to provide a minimum 3.5 percent downpayment from other sources.

The $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers was created as a part of the Obama administration's $787 billion stimulus plan. Some private lenders already were allowing buyers to apply the credits directly toward purchase costs through special financing schemes.

With the FHA following in a similar vein, a significant portion of the first-time homebuyer market will have up-front access to the credits instead of waiting until tax returns are filed.

What we're doing today will not only help these families to purchase their first home but will present an enormous benefit for communities struggling to deal with an oversupply of housing, Donovan said in a statement

FHA-insured loans, which largely have replaced the subprime mortgage market, now accounts for about 25 percent of new mortgages, senior HUD officials said, versus about 2 percent of the market two years ago. At this pace, the agency will insure some 2.2 million mortgages this year.

The National Association of Home Builders estimates that the $8,000 first-time homebuyer credit will stimulate 160,000 home sales across the United States -- 101,000 purchases from first-time buyers and another 59,000 purchases by existing homeowners who sold dwellings to first-time buyers.