A deal was reached yesterday in Congress on the economic stimulus plan, with the bill ending up at a total of around $789 billion. The bill, a compromise hammered out by both houses, looks as if it may contain some disappointing news for home builders.

Sources on Capitol Hill say that the tax credit for home buyers that had been substantially increased in the Senate’s bill may have been scaled back to the original House version. The proposed final version of the credit remains at $8,000 and will be available only to first-time buyers. It will be a true credit, though, and will not have to be repaid.

The new operating loss carryback proposal appears to have made it into the final bill with its extension from two to five years intact. Language in the bill limits the extension only to small businesses.

The bill is expected to be ready for final passage sometime this weekend and may go to President Obama for his signature as early as Monday.

Denise Dersin is editor-in-chief of BUILDER magazine.