There are several advantages to being a first-time home buyer in today’s struggling economy. Not only do you have access to an enormous inventory of properties from anxious sellers, you also have negotiating power. On top of that, federal and state governments have made funds available to first-time home buyers in the form of grants. The money from a grant can be used for a down payment or closing costs, alleviating some of the biggest expenses that first-time home buyers encounter.
To be eligible for a first-time home buyer grant, you (and your spouse) cannot have owned or purchased a home during the last three years. In most cases, grants are used to help finance single family homes, one- to four-unit housing, condominium or townhouse units, and manufactured housing. It is also important to note that there are usually income limitations for first-time home buyer grants, and requirements may vary from state to state.
Whether you are buying a house as a primary residence or as an investor, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers several programs designed to revitalize distressed communities by encouraging investment in real estate. These incentives help enhance property values and provide affordable housing for low-income families. HUD’s first-time home buyer grants include funds specifically allocated for neighborhood revitalization (purchasing abandoned or foreclosed homes), lead-paint removal, green/sustainable energy efficient improvements, and more. More information about HUD grants can be found at the following website: http://portal.hud.gov/HUD/program/administration/grants
Most states offer some type of mortgage assistance to first-time home buyers as well.
The Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC) has a First-Time Home Buyer Program which provides low-interest, fixed mortgages for low- to moderate-income borrowers. Florida also has programs that help first-time home buyers reduce their out-of-pocket expenses (such as the down payment and closing costs). For more information, visit the FHFC website: http://apps.floridahousing.org/StandAlone/FHFC_ECM/SHIP
The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) offers “Grants for Grads,” a program that awards first-time home buyers up to 2.5% of the home’s purchase price. To qualify, the home buyer must be 18 or older and a graduate of an Ohio high school, college, or university. Applications must be submitted within 18 months of the home buyer’s graduation date. For more information, visit the OHFA website: www.ohiohome.org/programs
The Nevada Housing Division also has a First-Time Homebuyer Program that assists low- to moderate-income borrowers with their down payment and closing costs. More information can be found at the following website: www.nvhousing.state.nv.us/FirstTimeHomebuyerProgram
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) offers a variety of mortgage loan programs, including the Texas First-Time Homebuyer Program which allows eligible families to obtain a loan with low interest rates. Home buyers in Texas also have access to a variety of grants that can help pay for their down payment, closing costs, and other up-front expenses (depending on the jurisdiction). For more information, visit the TDHCA website: www.tdhca.state.tx.us/overview