The American Dream of home ownership is on the rise across the United States. According to the latest figures available, the US homeownership rate reached a record 69.2 percent in the second quarter of 2004, up from 68.3 percent in 2003. And for the first time, the majority of minority Americans own their own homes.
Owning a home provides tremendous benefits for families and for the communities in which they reside. Homeownership provides a sense of security and allows families to build wealth. A home is the largest financial investment most American families will ever make. Homeownership translates into a greater concern for neighborhoods and their communities as owners work to maintain the value of their greatest investment.
However, the most significant stumbling block for many low- to moderate-income families is being able to afford the down payment and closing costs. Fortunately, there is help – through down payment assistance programs or DAP’s.
DAP’s have been around for years yet many people, the people who could use them most, don’t even know they exist. With home prices and interest rates on the rise, there’s no time like the present to explore these programs and their benefits.
The Nehemiah Corporation of America has helped over 170,000 families and provided more than $659 million in gift funds since 1997. They offer gift funds up to 6% of the final contract sales towards your down payment and/or closing costs. These grants are available to both first time and repeat homebuyers. There are no income or asset limits, no geographical restrictions and the gift funds do not have to be repaid. For more information about this program, visit www.getdownpayment.com or call 1-877-634-3642.
Another national provider of a DAP is Ameridream. To participate in AmeriDream’s Downpayment Gift Program, a homebuyer must contact a lender and qualify for a loan that allows gift funds, and the homebuyer must purchase a home from a builder or seller who has enrolled his or her home in the program. Visit www.ameridream.org for more information.
Partners In Charity, www.partnersincharity.org, is another national organization assisting families in achieving the American dream. PIC gives a down payment to those who demonstrate their ability to responsibly pay their rent and bills each month, turning renters into buyers.
They refer applicants to a licensed mortgage lender and licensed realtor who assists in finding the right home and the right financing package. Or, the buyer can chose to work with someone they already know. The mortgage lender then requests the gift of a down payment from Partners In Charity in the amount of 3%, 4% or 5% for the buyer. And, the gift never needs to be repaid, ever. PIC takes the gift giving one step further by also giving a gift to a community charity selected by the real estate team.
In addition to these national resources, there are also many state, city, and faith-based sponsored programs available to assist families, especially first-time homebuyers. Different agencies have various programs, requirements, and limits. If you don’t qualify for one program, keep checking around. The important thing to remember is that help is out there. And with a little help, you can achieve the American dream!
About the author
© 2005, http://www.yourfreecreditreportnow.com
Author: James H. Dimmitt
James is editor of “To Your Credit” a FREE weekly newsletter focusing on managing your personal finances and credit. Subscribe and get a FREE copy of your credit report when you visit: http://www.yourfreecreditreportnow.com