The sun peeks through your window at 7 a.m. It’s hitting your face at just the right angle to gently wake you from your sleep. The Keurig is already brewing your morning coffee and you can smell it from downstairs.
You’ve got plenty of time to make breakfast for the kids, watch the morning news, or read some articles before you head out for work. You rise from your bed and look around your room. A room in the house you closed on just last week.
A smile forms on your face as you stretch and greet the day. You never thought you’d see this day. The dream you woke up from pales in comparison to the reality of owning your own home.
If you’re like many Americans, this vision of home ownership can seem unattainable.
You may think your income isn’t high enough to afford the down payments and closing costs associated with home ownership, despite your ability to qualify for a loan.
Homeownership remains a goal for many, but most folks aren’t aware of the programs and opportunities for first-time homebuyers to achieve this goal. CommunityWorks is here to help.
Homebuyer assistance is often available in the form of down payment / closing cost assistance through local nonprofits or loan funds like CommunityWorks. Qualifying applicants can receive a forgivable loan to go toward their down payment and closing costs, easing the burden of purchasing a home.
Here are some steps you can follow today to get started on the road to homeownership even if you’re at or below the median income in your area.
How to Find the Right Homebuyer Assistance Program
If you’re ready to get serious about pursuing homeownership, you’ll need to start by organizing your information and then doing some research.
The first step is finding a lender that will work with you. Depending on your credit and other factors, you may qualify for a quality loan through a bank or other traditional mortgage lender. Check with your lender to see if they offer any down payment assistance or if they can direct you to any local resources.
If you’re still going to require assistance with closing costs, start by taking note of the following information so you can compare it against the eligibility requirements of each program.
Your Homebuyer Status
It’s important to check the details of each program as they relate to whether or not you currently own a home. If you’ve purchased a home within the last 3 years, you may have trouble qualifying.
Most down payment assistance programs require you to be at or below an income threshold called area median income, or AMI. Check the details of your program to find out the AMI threshold, then click here to check your AMI.
The Area You Want to Live
Homebuyer assistance programs are often regional and will only assist you if you’re buying a home in a certain neighborhood.
Many employers across the country maintain home-buying assistance programs to help their employees find steady and affordable housing near work. Check with your employer to find out if they offer this benefit.
Ability to Attend Orientations or Workshops
Many homebuyer assistance programs require the recipient to attend special workshops or seminars for first-time homebuyers. Your ability to attend these orientations can affect your eligibility for the loan.
Some programs also require your income to be high enough to support the mortgage. For example, a program might require that your mortgage is no more than 35% of your monthly household income. Check the fine print of any agreements to determine if you’ll qualify for this stipulation.
Whether You Can Contribute to the Down Payment
Some assistance programs also require that you invest some small amount into the down payment or closing costs. For example, a program could require that you put at least $500 toward the purchase right away.
CommunityWorks Can Help
Once you know all of the information above, you should be ready to start the process of searching for homebuyer assistance.
- Start with programs that offer charitable assistance or forgivable loans. These programs are best because they won’t require you to repay the assistance later, saving you money in the long run.
- Don’t forget to check with your employer, school, or any other organization you’re a part of to see if they offer homebuyer assistance.
- Most programs are aimed at helping people, so they should have resources available for more assistance if you’re having trouble determining your eligibility.
CommunityWorks’ Down Payment Assistance programs offer up to $10,000 in forgivable loans. Some of our programs are location based (Greenville County, City of Spartanburg, Northside of Spartanburg), while some are employer based (PRISMA Employees, Beaufort Memorial, Spartanburg Regional, City of Beaufort, City of Goose Creek). Our Homebuyer Assistance Coordinator, Tre’Dessa Smalls, would be happy to help you wherever you are in the home purchase process.
If you’ve been pre-approved and have a mortgage lender, realtor, and a house in mind, the next step is for your lender to fill out the down payment assistance application! Check out our down payment assistance page to find Tre’Dessa’s contact information and the application.
Ask and You Shall Receive
The dream of homeownership could be closer than you think.
If you’re seriously interested in owning a home, there’s no better time than now to start looking for homebuyer assistance programs that can help make your dream a reality.
A lack of a down payment could be an obstacle rather than a roadblock. The only way to know for sure is to find out!