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$15,000 in down payment assistance available in select counties

By Andie Foley
Salisbury Post

The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency is offering down-payment assistance of $15,000 to qualified buyers across five counties, including Cabarrus.

The assistance is available to first-time buyers and military veterans purchasing homes in Cabarrus, Cumberland, Guilford, Johnston and Mecklenburg counties. It comes in the form of a deferred five-year loan with no interest. Funds are available through the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund.

This second mortgage is forgiven at 20 percent for each full year the homebuyer remains in the home.

To be eligible for the $15,000, buyers’ annual household income cannot exceed certain limits. Additionally, buyers must be purchasing a previously occupied home with a sales price less than $245,000; have a credit score above 640; and complete an in-person or online homebuyer education course.

Connie Helmlinger, manager of communications for Housing Finance Agency, said the course helps buyers prepare themselves for becoming a homeowner.

“We want people to be really prepared to take on the responsibilities of homeownership,” she said. “We want them to succeed as homeowners.”

Helmlinger said most of the money received through the Hardest Hit Fund is allocated to foreclosure prevention. Down-payment assistance is intended to boost home buying in areas hardest hit during the Great Recession.

The Housing Finance Agency assisted about 1,000 homebuyers through a similar program last year. In October, money from the Hardest Hit Fund helped an additional 3,000.

Plenty of assistance is still available.

“There’s still enough funding left to assist 1,500 more buyers,” Helmlinger said. “This means that half of the remaining funds are reserved or the buyers have closed.”

For buyers outside the five counties, Helmlinger recommends pursuing assistance through the housing agency’s N.C. Home Advantage Mortgage. Home Advantage provides fixed-rate mortgages and down-payment assistance of up to five percent of the loan amount.

To qualify, buyers must meet income and credit-score requirements, be purchasing a home in North Carolina, and occupy the home as their principal residence within 60 days of closing.

Additional eligibility requirements are available on the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency’s website, www.nchfa.com. For more information on the assistance or to find a participating lender, call 800-393-0988.

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