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Jacqueline Clarke's Blog

By Jacqueline Clarke | Mortgage Broker
or Lender in Orlando, FL
  • Down Payment Assistance Program for First Time Homebuyers

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Orlando  |  June 26, 2009 10:09 AM  |  3,430 views  |  15 comments
    Contrary to several answers I have seen on this website and others, there is money available to help first time homebuyers purchase a home. 

    As a result of Florida legislature raiding the Housing Trust Fund to allegedly reduce the state debt, Orange County Housing announced on June 26th that the grant amounts for down payment assistance will be significantly reduced. While those of us who focus on helping First Time Homebuyers were aware that this was coming down the pike for quite some time, it was still a surprise that it happened towards the end of the month and was effective immediately. 

    The grant amounts, which are based on household income and size, are now $25,000 for those fall in the very low income, $17,500 for Low and $5,000 for Moderate.  

    I recently saw a story on CNN that discussed the fact that homes selling for $100,000 or less are flying out of inventory and further that First Time Homebuyers in markets like Florida and California are fueling this upsurge in the affordable housing category.   The sale prices and historically low mortgage rates are encouraging these buyers who were basically shut out of the market for so long. 

    In addition to SHIP from Orange County, there are other programs that still have funding available for first time homebuyers.  City of Orlando still has funding available for Low and Very Low borrowers and Florida Housing still offers down payment assistance through their Florida Assist program. There is also the Orange County Neighborhood Stabilization Program that was created to encourage purchases in areas with high foreclosure rates.

    FHA announced that First Time Homebuyers can use the First Time Homebuyer Credit of $8,000 towards their down payment at closing.  This money was allocated by the Federal government several months ago.   While other states, like Minnesota and California to name a few, have already created programs to allow First Time Homebuyers to use their credits, Florida has yet to create a program.  It is my understanding that the program may roll out in August.  I'll be sure to keep you posted.

    I am well versed on the programs listed herein and for those interested, the information is easily accessible. I encourage all real estate professionals to do a little research to help their buyers continue to fuel the turnaround in our market.

    For more information on these program and others, please feel free to shoot me an email.
  • Orange County's Neighborhood Stabilization Program

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Orlando  |  March 21, 2009 8:21 PM  |  3,455 views  |  2 comments

    As a Down Payment Assistance Specialist, I am particularly excited about this program because it offers another avenue to homeownership.  Unlike Florida's State Housing Initiative Program (SHIP) a/k/a Down Payment Assistance, individuals do not have to be First Time Homebuyers to particpate. Investors are not allowed.

    Last year, Orange County received approximately 27 million dollars from the federal goverment to address the mounting number of vacant homes in the area due to foreclosure.  The County worked on a plan for several months, asked for public input and finalized the Neighborhood Stabilization Program this month.

    This plan is geared towards addressing our hardest hit areas.  The target zones are Pine Hills, Meadow Woods, Azalea Park, Union Park and Holden Heights/Oakridge.  Maps of these areas can be found on Orange County's website:  www.ocfl.net

    The program works as follows: Orange County will acquire vacant homes in the target areas to rehabilitate for purchase and/or rent.  In addition to repairing and renovating the properties and in an effort to go green, the county will also install items that will improve energy efficiency. 

    Qualified buyers will be able to purchase these properties with special gap financing created for this program. Income and household restrictions apply.  The buyer may qualify for up to 40% of the value of the property but not more than $35,000 towards their down payment. Funds for closing costs are additional.  

    Gap financing is different from SHIP because it's based on need.  If the buyer's income qualifies for the program, then the amount of down payment assistance will be determined by the amount necessary to insure that the mortgage payment is affordable. 

    Buyers can also purchase bank-owned foreclosures located in target areas.  The contract/purchase price cannot exceed 95% of the market value. Buyers can use an FHA 203K Rehab loan to purchase properties in disrepair.  Gap financing is also available for buyer's who qualify.

    Most counties and municipalities will have their own program.  City of Orlando's program will be up and running at the end of July.  Osceola just received $14MM and have yet to set-up. 

    I think this program along the $8,000 tax credit are just the shot in the arm that Central Florida needs now.  

    Please feel free to leave a comment.  For more information, contact me or go to www.ocfl.net. 



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