Down Payment Help Becomes More Available

down payment helpHaving trouble scraping together a down payment is one of the most common reasons that people put off buying a home. But now, state and local governments are ramping up down-payment assistance programs for buyers who are still falling short. AnnaMaria Andriotis of explores seven of the regional options currently available.

Home prices
have dropped, and mortgage rates are low. For anyone with the tens of thousands of dollars now required for a down payment, it's a pretty good time to buy a house. Now, it's even getting easier without that hefty down payment, as governments step in to help out.

A growing number of state and local governments are now offering what are called "down payment assistance programs," grants or low- and no-interest loans to first-time buyers or those who haven't owned a house in a few years. The number of programs, now somewhere around 1,000 nationally, has increased 3% to 5% in the last six months alone, estimates Marc Savitt, president of the National Association of Independent Housing Professionals, an advocacy group.

And, in a stark reversal, some banks are now far more willing to work with borrowers who need down payment assistance, buyers who were considered too risky 18 months ago. State housing agencies say they're seeing the biggest spike in lender interest since before the housing downturn. Florida's down payment assistance agency now works with 65 lenders, up 12% from a year ago, says a spokeswoman; in North Carolina, the number of participating lenders has grown 22%.


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