Current events in the past five years resulted in a strong downturn in the U.S. economy. Inflated home values, mortgage refinance that was not carried out responsibly, job loss and other contributing factors caused mass foreclosures to erupt across the nation. In response, the federal government passed laws to help bolster the struggling U.S. housing market and sagging economy. One result came in the form of grants to help with mortgage notes.
Creation of Mortgage Grants
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) enabled mortgage grants for qualified U.S. citizens who only dreamed of owning a home. One grant must be claimed when filing your income taxes. All other grants are distributed under the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that administers two of the programs. Government entities and non-profit groups administer the remaining program financing. Requirements typically include very low, low or moderate income limits. All grants apply toward the purchase or maintenance of a home. No grants involve mortgage refinance.
"The cloud with the silver lining" is how some recipients, who thought they’d never own a home, describe mortgage grants offered during the current down economy. More opportunities are available now more than ever before for potential new homebuyers. You might be able to close on a new home with a government grant that will cover your down payment, or obtain a grant to pay your mortgage over a specific timeframe.
Mortgage Grant Qualification
There are several mortgage grants available for those who qualify. One is through the first-time homebuyer tax credit that was expanded to include certain existing homeowners. In addition, the program was extended through April 30, 2010. Included in the program are existing homeowners who have lived five of the last eight years in their existing homes. You may also be able to obtain a bridge loan to allow you an advance on the $8,000 federal tax credit that won’t have to be repaid until you receive your federal tax refund. Make sure you include Form 5405 when filing your taxes and submit a paper filing only. The IRS does not accept electronic filing when claiming the first-time homebuyer tax credit.
Homeownership Vouchers Program
Another first-time homebuyer grant available is called the Homeownership Vouchers Program. It pays the mortgage payments for eligible recipients over a period of time, along with providing some assistance for home expenses. Like the first-time homebuyer tax credit, you may not have owned a home three years prior to applying for the grant. In addition, the home purchase must be your primary residence, and you must have full-time employment. To apply for this program, contact your local public housing authority (PHA). PHAs may be found on HUD’s website.
Good Neighbor Next Door (GNND) program
Eligible EMTs, firefighters, law enforcement personnel and teachers may use the Good Neighbor Next Door (GNND) program to buy a HUD home at 50 percent off the market sales price. You must live in the home for three years as your primary residence. These homes are typically located in areas targeted for revitalization. Contact a licensed real estate agent for assistance in finding GNND program properties.
State, county and local governments and certain approved non-profit entities that work with housing issues administer other ARRA grants. You may be able to obtain a grant for down payment assistance, or you may be eligible for assistance with paying your mortgage, home remodeling or modification. Conditions and eligibility vary between programs. Contact your state housing authority to help identify local grant opportunities available. Find your state housing authority (HA) contact information by doing an online search for your "[State] Housing Authority."
There are many grants available to assist with a mortgage down payment, and some even help pay your monthly mortgage payments. You just need to consider the programs available, decide on which one best meets your needs and find out if you qualify.