By Dayv Morgan
Traditionally, a down payment on a home is 20 percent of the sales price. This allows a buyer to avoid paying a monthly fee for private mortgage insurance. But saving up 20 percent is often a struggle for potential homebuyers. The median sales price in Maricopa is around $210,000, which would require $42,000 down.
This is why down-payment assistance (DPA) programs remain in demand. In 2016, the Pathway to Purchase (P2P) program allowed Maricopans to receive a grant of 10 percent of the price, up to $20,000, to be used towards the down payment. The P2P program returned last month for selected zip codes, including most of Casa Grande, but unfortunately Maricopa was not on that list.
There are still other DPA options for homebuyers in Maricopa. And DPAs are not just for first-time homebuyers.
Administered by the Arizona Industrial Development Authority, the HOME Plus Home Loan Program provides a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage combined with DPA up to 5 percent. The assistance is provided in the form of a three-year, no interest, no down payment, second mortgage, completely forgiven at the end of three years. The DPA can be used toward the down payment, closing costs or a combination of the two. Active military and veterans can receive an additional 1 percent.
For those who do not qualify for these programs, there is still a standard 3.5-percent down FHA loan program, which is the most common in Maricopa. The 0-percent down USDA loan program also still exists, but is only for specific geographical areas, and not an option within the city limits of Maricopa.
A 620 credit score is often thought to be the minimum to qualify for financing. Many renters don’t begin to even think about looking for homes until their score is in the 600s. FHA actually sets a minimum score of 580, but mortgage companies often will add their own “overlays” on top of the federal guidelines, bringing it back up to a 620.
Fortunately, there are some lenders with niche programs available to help potential buyers with less-than-great credit.
Carrington Mortgage Services, for example, has options for VA and FHA loans with a credit score as low as 500. The FHA loan requires a higher down payment of 10 percent, but the VA product does not require any down payment at all.
The previously mentioned HOME Plus program has a 620 credit score with most lenders, but there are several companies that will accept scores under 620, including Flagstar, Carrington, Bank of America and Quicken Loans.
Every lender will likely have different requirements for qualifying. In addition to credit score and down payment, other factors such as debt-to-income ratios and cash reserves will come into play. Based on your personal situation, your real estate professional and lender can direct you to the best financing programs available.
Dayv Morgan is a Maricopa Realtor and owner of HomeSmart Success.
This column appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.