Down Payment Assistance Helps Shoppers Get Over the Affordability Crisis



A source controversy in the Trump administration, prepayment assistance programs are receiving increased attention today to counter both the economic impact of the pandemic and rising house prices

Numerous down payment assistance programs across the country – or DPA – offer buyers the means to take their first steps towards buying a home. Despite their ubiquity, DPAs are often not fully understood or used, with the result that many potential owners leave the market and lose wealth earned through home ownership. Housing costs are expected to be stay on topThe DPA is more important than ever – if buyers and lenders take advantage of it.

“There is not a single county in this country where there is no way to get any kind of advance payment assistance,” said Sean Moss, director of operations at Down Payment Resource. The Atlanta-based organization collects and tracks the details of approximately 2,100 accessibility programs and leads lenders and buyers to them – a service that users sometimes jokingly refer to as as a down payment.

And a much larger segment of the population can access DPA than most people think. While income ceilings of 80–100% of the region’s median are common for eligibility, many go up to 140% or more, Moss said. And they are all not limited to newbie shoppers. “We usually surprise people when we work with an MLS, a lender, or a nonprofit organization, and we go in and say, ‘Look, here’s a range of income limits for programs in your market. This is the scope of opportunities, ”he said.

The Bay Area Affordable Homeownership Alliance provides assistance primarily in the counties of San Mateo, Contra Costa and Alameda. outside San Franciscowhere even inexpensive beginner homes can average $ 500,000 or more. Given the high salaries in some communities, the respective income ceilings for the advance payment are also likely to be raised, according to Walter Zhovreboff, its administrative director.

Zhovrebov saw a wide range of employees have the right to receive assistance both within his service area and beyond. “We have accommodated several hundred people here at home. And in San Francisco, we saw lawyers who had just graduated from university, people who had just gotten a law degree and were just starting out, fell into those numbers. They will be teachers – many teachers have the right to do so. ”

A local TV journalist and jazz recording artist are among the successful candidates submitted by the alliance. But for the most part, according to Zhovreboff, BAAHA assistance benefits the professions that make up the “employment base of your basic infrastructure,” which includes nurses, administrative assistants, data center employees, and dispatchers.

However, Zhovreboff estimates that only about 30% of people know about his agency’s programs, which is not necessarily a big problem for him. With costs as high as in the Bay Area, even that lower percentage quickly depletes what his agency has to offer. “What you have to understand is that the 30% impact still puts a huge strain on the system,” said Zhovrebov, who said that about 80% of the available funding is being used.

While fears have arisen in the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic about the viability of many accessibility initiatives, both financially and logistically, most have generally remained unscathed and continue to serve borrowers. Some can now offer as much, if not more, funding than what they did before 2020, either as a percentage of the home price or as a base amount.

Rather than relying solely on government subsidies or donations, DPA programs also operate using bond financing, much of which is “essentially perpetual,” Moss said. This source protected them from the worst economic fallout from the coronavirus. Some agencies complement bonds with other creative financial solutions.

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency provides a range of assistance packages designed for everyone from new college graduates to government employees. The income from his programs is generated from within. “As far as our help with the down payment is concerned, we are contributing to the bond deal, and we are also pricing our loans a little higher,” said Tom Walker, manager of housing conservation development at OHFA.

A borrower who receives a loan through OHFA can qualify for a preferential interest rate, but if he additionally requests assistance with a down payment, the rate could rise by a quarter or half a percent. This higher rate provides income for the DPA segment.

But the benefits of aid can pay off in the long run, even at a higher rate, provided they stay home for a set period of time. This is especially true when assistance is provided in the form of grants or grants. In Ohio, borrowers who are eligible for a new college graduate can be forgiven a down payment on a loan for five years.

Extent to which home ownership is recognized as a vehicle narrowing the wealth gap was highlighted in the 2020 presidential election when President Biden made the first installment one of the key promises of his campaign. The current $ 3.5 trillion social infrastructure plan that Democrats hope to implement includes a provision that will provide up to $ 25,000 in down payment aid to first-time home buyers.

Biden’s efforts to expand these programs are in stark contrast to the views of his predecessor, whose administration proposed limiting the DPA.

But there are still problems with reaching those who are currently eligible for these programs. A recent study by NeighborWorks America found that 76% of Americans who were not yet homeowners saw their inability to afford the down payment as the main obstacle preventing them from making a purchase. And 49% said they knew little or nothing about DPA in their communities.

Chase Home Lending’s survey of first-time buyers also found that only about half of respondents expected to research DPA in the buying process. But despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 and the current spike in prices, many were still hoping to buy, with 70% of respondents planning to make a purchase in the next 12 months.

Attempting to disseminate information to reach a wider segment of the population is a challenge many programs are trying to overcome. “We are always open and talk about how to get out of the community in a way that they hear about us,” said Dorcas Jones, director of public relations for OHFA. “Sometimes there is definitely a gap between who will win the most and who actually hears about us,”

Of the 153 lenders signed up to OHFA’s lending programs, about 20% provide the majority of the volume. The agency relied primarily on word of mouth through its creditors as well as communication with real estate agents.

Her real estate manager has been busy promoting the program for the past year. “Even during the COVID period, he attended online classes,” Walker said. “During his studies, he sets aside a part to introduce them to OHFA, so they know about it, to also notify them.”

While many programs appear to be in good shape, the DPA is currently facing an economic environment that they could not have foreseen just a couple of years ago. “These programs are trying to adapt to rising prices,” Moss said. “Open up the income limits for more eligible people and give them a little more as a down payment to offset – maybe not all of the price increases, but they are doing their best to help.”

With few signs of cooling in the housing market, the demand for programs has only increased, and they are one of the few options available to many Americans trying to build wealth from their homes.

“There are paths to home ownership, and hopefully this will help people who have pushed themselves aside, essentially because we really fear a lot of this is happening right now,” Moss said.


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