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I am a CPA that deals with individual taxation matters - just enrolled in this community today. As such, there are two initiatives I am aware of:
1) The first was initiated in 2008 for first time home buyers (who meet specific requirements) in the amount of $7,500. It carries with it a significant catch of needing to be repaid by the taxpayer over a 15 year period.
2) The second was initiated in 2009 and is for first time home buyers (who meet specific requirements) in the amount of $8,000 which does not need to be repaid unless specific parameters are not adhered to by the home buyer.
My opinion concerning your question is that the $7,500 is a tax credit in the year of home purchase for the first time home buyer, but repayment certainly should be in the home buyer's mind as he/she takes the credit. The 2009 credit of $8,000 is certainly more attractive (no repayment as long as specific parameters are met).
Please note that there are a number specific requirements that must be met for the incentives to be applicable to a first time home buyer as well as the usual exceptions to the rules.