A Facebook fan, who wrote me saying she earns about $30,000 a year, asked about buying a home with little to no money down.
If you or someone you know is trying to become a first-time homeowner, and you don’t have a high salary or a lot of savings, there is financial assistance available if you don’t have a large down-payment or enough money for closing costs.
Over the past decade there has been a surge in first-time homebuyer initiatives designed to give people a helping hand in overcoming the down payment dilemma. In fact, in every state in America there are a broad range of first-time homebuyer assistance programs, including:
- Free grants and cash gifts for down payments – with funds ranging from $500 to as much as $40,000
- Money for closing costs, prepaid escrows and other mortgage expenses
- Grants or loans to fix up homes in need of repair
- 100% financing programs, so that you pay zero down on a home
- Home loans that feature 0% interest, low interest rates or below-market interest rates
- Mortgages with loan forgiveness benefits or no payments for a set period of time
- Federal and state housing tax credits
- Homebuyer workshops to teach you about the rights and responsibilities of being a homeowner
- Mortgage education classes that explain the mortgage process
- Budgeting, credit counseling, money-management and overall financial planning services
No matter where you reside or where you’re looking to settle down, if you’re a first-time homebuyer, there’s a program that can help you purchase a house. And virtually every type of residence is eligible under these programs, including single-family homes, condominiums, townhouses, modular homes, and manufactured housing. Many assistance programs have income limitations, particularly those that provide city, state or federal funding. But other programs have no income criteria. Also, certain housing assistance plans impose caps on the purchase price of the property you can buy. Despite these restrictions, you’ll find that taking advantage of a first-time homebuyers’ program is one of the smartest things you can do. It will allow you to get into a home sooner, save money in the process, and simultaneously build wealth.
Even if you’ve already been successful at saving on your own, I highly recommend that you utilize a first-time homebuyer program for three reasons. First, if you can get down payment assistance, and you combine that money with your own savings, you’ll walk into your new home with a greater piece of equity. Second, using funds from a first-time homeowners’ initiative can allow you to keep some of your own savings in the bank as cash reserves – rather than depleting all of your money for the down payment and closing costs. Finally, many first-time homebuyer programs have a mandatory homeownership counseling component. Consequently, the knowledge and skills you’ll gain from this counseling will make you better-educated and more prepared for homeownership as you make the transition from renter to owner.
Google the phrase “first-time homebuyer program” along with your city or state to find programs in your area. You can also pick up a copy of my book, Your First Home, for specific homeowner assistance programs in every state. Chapter 4 of Your First Home details eight sources of aid you can turn to for financial and educational assistance in buying a home. These eight sources include:
- Federal and/or National Programs
- State Aid
- County Initiatives
- Local/Municipal or City Efforts
- Non-Profit and Community-Based organizations
- Lender-Specific Programs
- Programs Based on Your Job or Occupation
- Employed Assisted Housing Initiatives
Becoming a first-time homebuyer is an exciting and commendable goal. Just make sure you’re truly ready for the rights and responsibilities of homeownership.
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