Homeownership seems like an impossible dream for many people, especially those with low to moderate incomes and in these COVID-troubled times.
The Delaware State Housing Authority is trying to make that dream a reality through their “Kiss Your Landlord Goodbye” promotion.
“In Delaware, people can often buy a home with a lower mortgage payment than they are paying in rent,” said spokeswoman Jessica Welch. “People often think our programs are only for low income families, but that is not the case.
“In Kent and Sussex County, for a household with one or two people, the income limit is $98,280 while families of three or more can have income up to $122,850. We also offer our programs to repeat home buyers, not just first-time buyers.”
Welch explained that DSHA offers 30-year, fixed-rate loans with interest rates at or below standard market rates for buyers who qualify. In addition, the organization offers down payment assistance and closing cost help.
“It can be difficult to save enough money for a down payment and closing costs,” Welch said. “Our programs are a second mortgage loan that has no interest, allowing the home buyer to borrow between two and five percent of their total mortgage to use toward closing costs. The loan must be repaid when you sell, transfer or refinance your home or when you no longer use it as your primary residence.”
Programs at DSHA require a 620-credit score, but Welch stated that someone with a lower score should not be discouraged from reaching out to the agency.
“We work with HUD counselors to help people improve their credit score,” Welch said. “If someone has a score lower than 620, we recommend that they visit our website and click on the housing counselors tab. We also suggest that when they do that, they reach out to a lender as well to get the ball rolling. Getting a mortgage is a very lengthy process, so starting with both a housing counselor and a lender is the best way to get started, even if your credit scores are low.”
According to Welch, 2020 was a record year for the agency as they assisted about 2,300 families purchase homes and issued more than $480 million in mortgages. Since 2015, DSHA has assisted 6,779 home buyers and issued $1.26 billion in mortgages.
Welch expects to see even more people use their services in 2021 with interest rates so low. The rates now are around 2.5 percent, she said.
“Too often, people at low to middle income levels don’t consider the possibility of homeownership,” Welch said.
She said most people think DSHA only handles low-income and Section 8 housing.
“But that is not all we do here,” she said. “Affordable housing can include homeownership, but too many people just don’t think about it that way. The fact is that when people purchase a home in a neighborhood, they help reduce crime and have a stake in that community. I know it is very scary to take that first step, but home ownership benefits everyone.”
In addition to mortgage, down payment and closing cost assistance, DSHA also offers a first-time homebuyer’s tax credit of up to $2,000.
Anyone who is interested in learning more about the program can go to the DSHA website.
Once they are ready to begin the steps to own their own home, they can choose a lender and, if needed, a housing counselor.
More information also can also be obtained by calling 888-363-8808.