Home Plus loan concept enhances opportunities for veterans, new buyers

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Local residents who lack enough cash for a down payment, but have a good credit score and stable income, may find the key to homeownership through the new Home Plus loan program.

The program, operated by the Arizona Housing Finance Authority (AzHFA), opened its doors in Maricopa County only a few months ago; yet, it has already assisted nearly 300 families.

Duncan Robertson, a mortgage loan officer with Academy Mortgage Corp. in Chandler, is enthusiastic about the terms of the Home Plus program, which offers buyers more flexibility than previous down payment programs he has worked with.

“If an applicant needs a boost in the amount of cash for the down payment, but has a credit score of 640 and an annual income of less $88,340, then the Home Plus program can be an excellent option for them,” said Robertson.

“It will provide funds that can be used for the down payment and closing costs, up to four percent of the initial principal balance of the mortgage loan.”

Qualified U.S. military personnel and veterans may receive an additional one percent of down payment assistance, for a total of five percent of the mortgage amount. The program has attracted many first-time homeowners, but is not restricted to them. Home Plus also works for those who have owned several previous homes, as long as this purchase with Home Plus funds will be their primary residence.

“The main qualifications are the good credit, being under the income level and purchasing a home that is under $353,000,” said Robertson. “Right now there are many homes in Tempe and Chandler neighborhoods that fall into this price range.”

Robertson says he has been able to help buyers of all ages, from an elderly widow in Sun City to a young millennial couple in Tempe, in achieving their goal of homeownership. The value of the Home Plus loan program for homebuyers is the combination of money that does not have to be repaid with the security of a 30-year fixed rate mortgage.

“This program offers buyers a real no-strings grant—no requirements to pay it back, no lien against the house and no timeline restrictions as to how long you have to remain in the home before selling again,” Robertson.

Michael and Karley Piercy of Chandler (see related story by Joyce Coronel) were able to qualify for the Home Plus program and recently purchased their home using the down payment assistance.

The AzHFA is coordinated by the staff of the Arizona Department of Housing and raises funds for various programs, such as Home Plus, through the national capital market says Homeownership Programs Administrator Dirk Swift.

“We operate like a private sector business and fund ourselves, so no additional tax dollars are required. We have developed relationships with banking and lending institutions to facilitate the Home Plus program.”

Swift explained that Home Plus has been operating for the last ten years in 13 of Arizona’s rural counties and began in Maricopa County last October. “So far, we’ve been able to assist about 1,400 families with the Home Plus program by providing more than $1.7 million in down payment assistance grants.”

Homebuyers must work through a lender approved by the AzHFA to obtain a Fannie Mae, HFA, Preferred, 30-fixed mortgage. A list of Home Plus lenders is available on the Internet at www.azhousing.gov

For more information on the program, call 602-771-1000.

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