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Down Payment Assistance Available to Most Buyers


A study to make home buyers realize that they could qualify for a free down payment without winning the lottery found that 87 percent U.S. of US homes qualify for down payment help.

“Many homebuyers, especially Millennials, haven’t fully investigated their home financing options because they are pessimistic about qualifying for a mortgage. Our Homeownership Program Index highlights the wide range and availability of down payment programs available to today’s homebuyers. In fact, 91 percent of the 2,290 programs in our registry have funds available to lend to eligible buyers. Plus, income limits vary depending on the market and programs extend beyond just first-time homebuyers,” said Rob Chrane, president and CEO of Down Payment Resource. “It’s important for buyers to research down payment programs as part of their loan shopping process.”

“Historically low homeownership rates across nearly every age demographic have led to a public policy push to lower the barrier to homeownership through down payments as low as 3 percent, but the fact is that the barrier to homeownership is often much lower than even that 3 percent for borrowers who take advantage of one of the myriad down payment help programs available across the country,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “Prospective buyers — or their agents — willing to put in a few minutes of time to find out what programs are available to them will put themselves in a much better position to successfully purchase a home.”

RealtyTrac looked at 2,290 down payment programs from Down Payment Resource’s Homeownership Program Index and found that out of more than 78 million U.S. single family homes and condos in 1,792 counties with sufficient home value data, more than 68 million (87 percent) would qualify for a down payment program available in the county where they are located based on the maximum price requirements for those programs and the estimated value of the properties.

Ten counties with most homes qualifying for down payment help

If you live in any of the counties below, you’re REALLY missing the boat if you don’t at least look into a free down payment.

Among the 10 U.S. counties with the most homes qualifying for down payment help, Wayne County, Mich., in the Detroit metro area had the highest percentage of homes qualifying at 94.37 percent, followed by Dallas County and Harris County (Houston) in Texas, both with nearly 93 percent of homes qualifying, and Clark County, Nev., in the Las Vegas metro area with more than 92 percent of homes qualifying.

Among these 10 counties, Los Angeles County had the lowest percentage of homes qualifying for down payment help with just over 78 percent, followed by Miami-Dade and Broward counties in Florida with 82 percent and 83 percent of homes qualifying respectively.

“Post downturn generations are typically more frugal, and today’s homebuyers accordingly have lower backend debt-to-income ratios and subsequently more buying power then the last generation, but most have little money for down payments,” said Mark Hughes, Chief Operating Officer at First Team Real Estate, covering the Southern California market. “More than half the interested buyers in our agents’ pipelines are more concerned with pulling together today’s required down payment than meeting the income-to-debt ratio requirements.

“Down payment assistance tends to suffer from lack of awareness,” Hughes continued. “Guidelines and specifics tend to change with economic swings.  Agents typically don’t keep up with the changing requirements and many buyers that depend on their guidance may be unaware of the opportunities.  At First Team we have updated lending opportunities and requirements circulated weekly to keep our buyers apprised of the opportunities available.”

“We have seen a dramatic increase in financing options available and loosening credit scores with conventional 3 percent down payments readily available for qualified homebuyers,” said Mike Pappas, CEO and president of the Keyes Company, covering the South Florida market. “This is great news for the millennials and the homebuyers re-entering the market.”

10 U.S. Counties with Most Homes Qualifying for Down Payment Help
State County Total Single Family Homes & Condos in County Total that Qualify for Down Payment Assistance Pct that Qualify
CA Los Angeles 1,762,256 1,377,813 78.18%
IL Cook 1,372,463 1,163,913 84.80%
AZ Maricopa 1,227,121 1,052,746 85.79%
TX Harris 1,038,027 961,957 92.67%
MI Wayne 692,174 653,221 94.37%
CA San Diego 717,165 618,050 86.18%
FL Miami-Dade 716,924 589,683 82.25%
NV Clark 605,679 558,411 92.20%
TX Dallas 574,849 533,518 92.81%
FL Broward 623,634 523,178 83.89%


20 counties with highest percentage of homes qualifying for down payment help

Among counties with a population of at least 100,000, those with the highest percentage of homes qualifying for down payment assistance were counties in Mississippi, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Texas, Ohio and Delaware.

“While lessening down payment amounts may be welcomed by consumers, few will realize the benefits due to the added complications, delays, and restrictions added within the loan process of such opportunities,” said Michael Mahon, executive vice president at HER Realtors, covering the Ohio housing markets of CincinnatiDayton and Columbus. “For example, lowering the down payment amounts out of pocket for a consumer does little to help their plight when they are required to maintain documented cash reserves in the amount of six to 12 months for qualification for certain lending programs.”

20 Counties with Highest Percentage of Homes Qualifying for Down Payment Help(Population 100,000 or more)
State County Total Single Family Homes & Condos in County Total that Qualify for Down Payment Assistance Pct that Qualify
MS DeSoto 48,249 48,196 99.89%
CA Imperial 29,353 29,308 99.85%
IL DeKalb 26,155 26,104 99.81%
PA Cambria 22,514 22,444 99.69%
IL Winnebago 86,116 85,848 99.69%
PA Fayette 35,039 34,915 99.65%
MD Charles 46,512 46,323 99.59%
CA Kings 25,832 25,711 99.53%
PA Blair 40,778 40,584 99.52%
NY Oswego 28,768 28,631 99.52%
IL Rock Island 51,294 51,041 99.51%
MS Jackson 43,361 43,138 99.49%
TX Kaufman 29,676 29,521 99.48%
CA San Joaquin 155,382 154,497 99.43%
OH Ashtabula 28,696 28,531 99.43%
MS Hinds 72,831 72,410 99.42%
CA Fresno 197,660 196,477 99.40%
CA Stanislaus 121,040 120,313 99.40%
DE Kent 27,069 26,893 99.35%
MS Rankin 40,501 40,235 99.34%


20 counties with lowest percentage of homes qualifying for down payment help

Among counties with a population of at least 100,000, those with the lowest percentage of homes qualifying for down payment assistance were led by New York County (Manhattan), N.Y. with just 28.84 percent and San Francisco County, Calif., with 33 percent. Other states represented were South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, Alaska, Michigan, Colorado, North Carolina, Maine, Vermont, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Virginia.

“In our market the greatest obstacle for buyer’s getting into the market is competition and lack of inventory.  In many cases FHA and low money down buyers are getting beat out in multi-offer situations by buyers with at least 20 percent down and cash buyers,” said Greg Smith, owner/broker at RE/MAX Alliance, covering the Denver market. “Overall I think the new low down programs will help long-term, but may take time to have any real impact.”

20 Counties with Lowest Percentage of Homes Qualifying for Down Payment Help(Population 100,000 or more)
State County Total Single Family Homes & Condos in County Total that Qualify for Down Payment Assistance Pct that Qualify
NY New York 109,273 31,514 28.84%
CA San Francisco 140,597 46,409 33.01%
CA Marin 69,624 24,257 34.84%
CA San Mateo 178,794 65,027 36.37%
CA Santa Clara 408,483 175,459 42.95%
SC Beaufort 66,162 33,240 50.24%
GA Forsyth 58,368 29,489 50.52%
MD Howard 91,171 49,555 54.35%
AK Anchorage 71,254 42,276 59.33%
MI Washtenaw 98,775 58,904 59.63%
SC Charleston 116,987 70,246 60.05%
CO Boulder 94,403 57,013 60.39%
NC Brunswick 52,642 32,838 62.38%
ME York 57,823 36,532 63.18%
VT Chittenden 43,701 27,629 63.22%
NC Wake 278,794 178,220 63.93%
MN Washington 80,480 51,658 64.19%
MA Middlesex 367,137 236,500 64.42%
VA Arlington 56,033 36,113 64.45%
WA King 581,919 375,638 64.55%


Down Payment Help Facts

Following are key facts based on analysis of Down Payment Resource’s Homeownership Index of the 2,290 Down Payment Help programs nationwide:

  • Approximately 91 percent of programs have funds available now for homebuyers.
  • The average amount of down payment assistance across all counties is $11,565.
  • At least one down payment program is available in all 3,143 U.S. counties, and more than 2,000 counties have more than 10 down payment programs available to prospective homebuyers.
  • More than half of the down payment programs (54 percent) are Community Seconds, where a second mortgage is issued by a Housing Financing Agency (HFA) or nonprofit organization with a very low or no interest rate. The payment on the second mortgage may be deferred or forgiven incrementally for each year the buyer remains in the home.  In a typical scenario this could reduce the amount of cash needed to close from $20,000 to $200.
  • Other major program types:
  • First mortgage loans with below-market interest rates or 100 percent financing.
  • Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCCs) that provide up to $2,000 in annual tax credits for the life of the loan.
  • Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) loans and grants designed to revitalize communities that have suffered from foreclosures, high unemployment and other concerns slowing housing recovery.
  • Many of these programs can be layered with each other and can often be used with most loan products, including VA and FHA home loans.
  • 24 percent of programs are available state-wide, not specific to a county or neighborhood.
  • The South leads the nation in the total number of available homebuyer programs, followed by the West.
  • The states with the greatest number of down payment programs are California, Florida, Texas, Maryland, New York, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois and Colorado.

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