More than 150 home builders, remodelers and real estate agents rallied at the state Capitol in late August to celebrate the housing legislation President Bush signed into law July 30.

“The housing stimulus legislation passed by Congress in July is an infusion of confidence that the financial markets need desperately,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), a veteran of the real estate industry.

The law includes a $7,500 tax credit for people who buy their first house by July 1, 2009.

“Housing is so important to the state of Georgia and a major part of our economy,” said Roger Tutterow, an economics professor at Mercer University. “Because Atlanta and Georgia have had such a vibrant, strong housing market, the recent industry downturn has caused a large part of our economy to become stagnant and vulnerable.”

For those who own homes but are facing foreclosure, the Federal Housing Administration expanded its FHASecure refinancing program in July. The program, launched in July 2007 in response to the national surge in foreclosures, has helped more than 325,000 families stay in their homes with more affordable mortgages after they fell behind on their monthly payments.

The program switches homeowners from adjustable-rate mortgages to fixed-rate loans.

Under the expanded eligibility for the program, delinquent borrowers who were late on two or fewer payments in previous 12 months can refinance with an FHASecure loan worth 97 percent of their home value.

Those who were late on adjustable loans three times in 12 months, even three months in a row, can get 90 percent loans.