87 Percent of Buyers Qualify for Some Downpayment Help

According to a RealtyTrac report released yesterday, 87 percent of U.S. buyers qualify for some type of downpayment assistance – if they know where to look.

Palm Coast, FL – February 5, 2015 – According to a RealtyTrac report released yesterday, 87 percent of U.S. buyers qualify for some type of downpayment assistance – if they know where to look.

In Florida, the percent of qualifying buyers goes as high as 97 percent in some counties, with the general range in the mid to upper 80s to a state low of 77 percent. However, the percent of qualifying homeowners is only one part of the puzzle.

In Miami-Dade County, for example, only 82.25 percent of buyers qualify for downpayment assistance, but that includes 589,683 homes, putting the county seventh nationwide for the total number of downpayment-assistance-qualifying homes. One other Florida county also made the list: Broward County at No. 10 with 523,178 qualifying homes (83.39 percent of buyers qualify).

According to RealtyTrac, its data is based on the maximum price requirements for a county's downpayment assistance programs and that county's estimated value of properties. It considered 2,290 downpayment programs found through the Down Payment Resource's Homeownership Program Index.

Major findings

  • About 91 percent of downpayment programs have funds available now.
  • The average amount of downpayment assistance across all counties is $11,565.
  • At least one downpayment program is available in all 3,143 U.S. counties; more than 2,000 counties have more than 10 down payment programs available to prospective homebuyers.
  • 54 percent of the downpayment programs are Community Seconds, where a Housing Financing Agency (HFA) or nonprofit organization issues a second mortgage with either no, or a very low, interest rate. The payment on the second mortgage may be deferred or forgiven incrementally for each year the buyer remains in the home. In a typical scenario, this could reduce the amount of cash needed to close from $20,000 to $200.
  • Other major downpayment program types: 1) First mortgage loans with below-market interest rates or 100 percent financing; 2) Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCCs) that provide up to $2,000 in annual tax credits for the life of the loan; and 3) Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) loans and grants designed to revitalize communities that have suffered from foreclosures, high unemployment and other concerns slowing housing recovery.
  • Many programs can be layered with each other and used with most loan products, including VA and FHA home loans.
  • 24 percent of programs are available statewide rather than a specific county or neighborhood.
  • The South leads the nation in the total number of available homebuyer programs, followed by the West.
  • The states with the greatest number of downpayment programs are California, Florida, Texas, Maryland, New York, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois and Colorado.

"Historically low homeownership rates across nearly every age demographic have led to a public policy push to lower the barrier to homeownership through downpayments as low as 3 percent – but the fact is, that barrier to homeownership is often much lower … for borrowers who take advantage of one of the myriad downpayment help programs available across the country," says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "Prospective buyers – or their agents – willing to put in a few minutes of time to find out what programs are available to them will put themselves in a much better position to successfully purchase a home."

County downpayment programs

RealtyTrac created two interactive maps. One lists the percent of homeowners, by county, that qualify for downpayment assistance. The second interactive map shows the number of programs found in each county. Click the "+" sign on the maps to enlarge the image and drag the image to see only Florida:

Down Payment Resource, which provided data for the RealtyTrac study, also has a web page to help buyers find a qualified downpayment assistance program based on the address of a property they're considering. It's found on the Down Payment Resource website.

© 2015 Florida Realtors® All rights reserved. Repronted with permission.

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