Monday, October 4, 2010

First-time home buyers receive Georgia assist

[This article was originally posted at the Chattanooga Times Free Press]

Q. Are there loan programs to assist first-time home buyers in Georgia?

A. If you want to become a Georgia first-time home buyer, you can get help with various programs.

The Georgia Dream Homeownership Program is a popular program currently being offered. It is offered to first-time home buyers and buyers who have not owned a home in the past three years. The program makes purchasing a home more affordable for low to moderate income families and individuals by offering fixed, low interest rate mortgage loans. The program is administered through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

For the Georgia first-time home buyer that meets income and asset levels, a primary residence qualifies for the Georgia Dream's First Mortgage.

This is a low-interest fixed rate 30-year mortgage. These rates are lower than the market rates that currently exist for conventional loans. The Dream Mortgage guidelines adhere to FHA, VA, conventional or USDA/Rural Development guidelines that are already in place other than the maximum limits for sales prices associated with this program. There are some rural counties and some urban tracts that are eligible for anyone purchasing a home.

The average Georgia first-time home buyer should qualify for the program because of the moderate assets and incomes requirement. This makes the program helpful to more than just the lowest income house purchasers. In the North Georgia area, the income limit for one to two person households is $61,000 and for households with three or more persons the income limit is $70,000. A buyer may qualify to purchase a home with a sales price of up to $200,000.

Also, the Georgia Dream's Second Mortgage program can apply when using the Georgia Dream's First Mortgage to purchase your home.

This helps more first-time purchasers get into a home by assisting with down payment financing. The Georgia Dream's Second Mortgage program is designed to assist a Georgia first-time home buyer to help fund the down payment and closing costs or prepaid escrow expenses up to $5,000. While you need a minimum contribution of 1 percent of the purchase price from your own money, it provides a 0 percent interest second mortgage loan.

The second mortgage is a delayed repayment loan. The loan must be repaid when the home is sold, refinanced or no longer used as the borrower's personal residence.

Those who are educators, protectors or health care workers can get additional down payment assistance of up to a $7,500 second mortgage loan. If you have a disability or someone in the household has one you can qualify for as much as $20,000. This allows many residents in the state of Georgia to benefit from these types of programs.

While the Dream Programs are primarily for Georgia first-time home buyers, those that are disadvantaged may be able to purchase their first house with the most affordable financing. Eligible home purchasers including single parent families and even displaced homemakers can own an affordable Georgia home. The Georgia Dream Programs help many buyers that might not be able to purchase a home otherwise.

If you are a Georgia first-time home buyer, the Georgia Dream Homeownership Program can offer the assistance you need through lower monthly payments, down payment or closing cost assistance. It's worth checking out if you are home buyer in the market for a Georgia home. There are several local mortgage lenders that participate in this program.

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Get answers to questions you might have about real estate from Randy Durham, who is president of the Chattanooga Association of Realtors and a broker with Keller Williams Realty. His column appears on Sundays. Send your questions to Business Editor John Vass Jr. at jvass@timesfreepress.com