WASHINGTON – Homebuyers would get an extra three months to complete their purchases and qualify for a generous tax credit under a bill passed 409-5 by the House on Tuesday.

Under current law, homebuyers who signed purchase agreements by April 30 have until today to close on the sale to qualify for tax credits of up to $8,000. The bill would give buyers until Sept. 30 to complete their purchases.

The extended deadline applies only to people who signed purchase agreements by April 30. The National Association of Realtors estimates that about 180,000 homebuyers who already signed purchase agreements are likely to miss today’s deadline.

“We owe this to the people who have essentially followed the rules who are caught by a closing date,” said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., House Ways and Means Committee chairman.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has sponsored a similar measure.

Democratic Maine Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree voted in favor of the extension.

The popular tax credit has helped to stabilize the slumping U.S. housing market. More than 2.6 million taxpayers claimed the credit through April — claiming $18.7 billion — according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The Realtors group says the tax credit has generated 1 million new home sales that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

The tax credit for first-time homebuyers was part of President Obama’s economic recovery package enacted last year.