Common Myths When Considering Programs to Reduce Home Costs
Myth 1. If I am rich or poor, I won't be eligible for any programs to reduce a home I can buy.
Truth: The best programs available are for the poor, with excellent possibilities even for the disabled making <$750/month in social security income only, but even the rich sometimes have programs to reduce home cost by as much as a half off home! If you are rich & don't "need" a program to reduce your home cost, why leave money on the table & not access the savings available?
Myth 2. If I am purchasing in cash or have no money down, I won't be eligible to buy with any programs to reduce home cost
Truth: You don't have to be a VA buyer to access no money down loans & FHA Plus loans, USDA loans are the most well known beyond VA but there are many additional options for no money down loans. Ask me about a lender who offers no mortgage insurance no money down conventional loans. Even some of those purchasing in cash have that 50% off homes program available
Myth 3. If I am not a first time home buyer, there are no programs to reduce home cost available.
While some of the best programs to reduce home cost are for first-time buyers, there is 1 program available for those who just sold their property, and there are other programs available even for those who currently own a home & won't be selling before their next purchase.
Myth 4. There are no programs for sellers to reduce their own costs
Truth: There are many programs to reduce home repair costs, mortgage costs, utilities, etc. for those in need. They are available from non-profits in some cases, gov. subsidized or run programs in some cases (search 211 VA for VA & Needhelppayinbills.com for outside VA & if you have exhausted the 211 VA list if in VA), and even some paid sources in others where repairs can be paid through the proceeds of a sale in some cases rather than seller as-is for the kind of discounted price necessary with an as-is sale in most cases when selling that route.
How Buyers can Reduce Their Home Costs
In Hampton Roads, programs exist where eligible buyers can get as little as 0% interest, up to $40,000 in down payment assistance, 50% off a home, 38 year loans, options for no down payment for homes up to $1,000,000, “credit score not considered,” virtually no money down rehab loans, and otherwise. The programs (only a small minority of which are referenced below) include some with no income limits, including one to help people acquire homes up to $1,000,000. Want to build a house but don’t have 20% down? How about building a house with only 3.5% down, or if you are a VA buyer, 0% down? All are options for qualified buyers meeting various program-specific criteria. While many programs are restricted to 1st time home buyers (those who have not owned a home in the past 3 years), a number of programs and not restricted to 1st time home buyers and some programs can yield savings even for properties over $1,000,000.
Did you know that a lender is actually not the best person to ask about programs to reduce your home costs? Here's why: lenders are not able to work with every program. On the other hand, that does not limit agents nearly as much. When I bought a house in the past year at the time of this writing, I was pre-approved with 4 lenders, only 2 of which were able to do the particular programs that I used. I inquired from at least one other lender who was not able to use those programs. On another occasion, I sent a buyer to 5 lenders, and only 1 of them could preapprove her. Later I found that no lenders I knew were able to do the program that she used which saved her even more money than going with the 1 lender I knew who could pre-approve her. She acquired a 1% interest, no downpayment 37-year loan. I know about so many programs to reduce your home cost through governments, banks, non-profits, etc. that I am willing to pay you $100 if you happen to locate any resource that has more programs that I have in my list (without you copying my list and locating some more to add to it that is!). Here are just a small fraction of those programs that are the tip of the iceberg of the list that I have compiled over the years. Keep in mind that I am not a lender, that I do not update this information on a daily basis, that it can change, that there are often additional terms and details, and that you should check the program itself rather than relying exclusively on this information.
Many who have never purchased a home have never had a good reason to itemize deductions. The moment that most buyers purchase a home, most have a very good reason to itemize. Don't know much about itemizing deductions? Check out this article here that gives an overview. See an approximation of how much you can save here. You can deduct both the real estate tax and the interest often if you itemize, as you can see detailed on the IRS site here. Keep in mind though that I am not a CPA, cannot give tax advice, and that you should consult an accountant regarding any tax-related questions.
While there are plenty of ways to reduce home costs, whether by buying a home that needs some TLC that you can do yourself, or by using a direct USDA loan for the few who qualify for a 1% interest no money down loan, there are a few programs that I'd like to focus on.
To see how to minimize taxes when passing a home to your children, click here.
No mortgage insurance, no money down conventional loans with no income max and no interest rate increase (which often happens with other no MI loans under 20% down) with closing cost from the seller being up to 4% (vs the usual 3% with conventional under 10% down):
I only know of one bank that has a program like this one, and that is Langley Federal Credit Union. Garrett Mortgage is powered by Langley Federal, with excellent options like this one being one of the reasons why we picked them after searching for many years for the perfect partner while we still allow other lenders, & you can contact Eden Kircus about this program at 757 696 5786. This program is for buyers who have not owned a home in the past 3 years. Also, the loan maximum is $350,000 last time I checked.
No mortgage insurance, 5% down conventional loans with no income max and no interest rate increase (which often happens with other no MI loans under 20% down) with closing cost from the seller being up to 4% (vs the usual 3% with conventional under 10% down):
This program essentially matches the program immediately above it, but requires 5% down while not having requirement to not have owned a home for the past 3 years. Again, I know of no program locally available like it. Also, the loan maximum is $750,000 last time I checked. As with above, contact Eden Kircus with Garrett Mortgage at 757 696 5786.
VHDA Mortgage Credit Certificate
I cannot give tax advice, as I am not a CPA, but here is a bit about this program. This program, through VHDA, is almost like the VA government subsidizing a portion of your house payment at tax time.
By the numbers:
With this program, you get 10% of the interest you pay each year credited back to you in taxes at the end of the year (even if you take the standard deduction), in addition to the remaining 90% still being eligible for the usual tax deductions if you itemize. That's for the life of the loan as long as you live there.
Max sales price: $390,000.
Income max limits (updated 5/2020):
2 or fewer people: $90,400
3 or more people: $105,400
Keep in mind that this program is for "first time home buyers." That is someone who has not owned a home in the past three years, etc., so if you owned one four years ago, you may still be eligible. If you are not a first time buyer, there are certain federally targeted areas where you can still utilize this program, whether in depressed areas like the East End of Newport News, or areas in high demand like the City Center of Oyster Point. See Federal Targeted Areas that you can see here where those who have owned a home in the past 3 years can still qualify for the program.
See the VHDA site's description of it with the most up to date #'s here.
Rates are near historical lows, and the MCC in a way takes those rates lower than they’ve ever gone before. Combined with a market that’s not inflated in this area, you have a phenomenal combination.
USDA Direct Loan - As low as 1% interest & no down payment in rural areas for low income buyers including Gloucester, Smithfield, parts of James City & York County.
Locations include parts of NW York County, James City County, Williamsburg, Toano, Smithfield, Surry, and Isle of Wight. For eligible property areas, go here. and click “Single Family Housing” under “Property Eligibility.” The first person I ever referred to a USDA direct loan qualified. Owner occupancy required throughout lifetime of loan. Income must be at or below the following as of 9/28/15 for Hampton Roads area direct loans. Sometimes those with credit scores below 580 under extenuating circumstances such as a medical emergency or other temporary hardship may qualify, as you can see here.
USDA Direct Loans max purchase prices on pages 83 & 84 (217,000 in James City County, 221,200 in York County, 209,300 in Gloucester, etc.):
1 person household: 41050
2 person: 46,900
3 person: 52,800
4 person: 58,650
5 person: 63,350
6 person: 68,050
7 person: 72,750
8 person: 77,400
Down Payment Assistance (DPA) program by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development
Closing cost assistance by lender up to 2500 & up to 20% down payment assistance (10% in Hampton Roads). Cannot be rented out.
Income limits as of Sep 2015:
1 person household: 41100
2 person: 46950
3 person: 52800
4 person: 58,650
5 person: 63,350
6 person: 68,050
7 person: 72,750
8 person: 77450
See also this link.
FHA Plus Loan - Gov. Subsidized 2nd Mortgage that’s a bit pricey but gives those who can’t afford a down payment who don't have credit that's conducive to a conventional loan a chance. Also, relatively easy to qualify for.
Max sales price: $375,000.
2 or fewer people: $80,400
3 or more people: $93,800
See more opportunities with the VHDA, including excellent interest rates & low income opportunities, here.
No down payment required on 100% financed loans ($1,000,000 max)
While it's a great program, individual lenders with Navy Federal can be unresponsive and otherwise problematic. Multiple buyers I’ve helped have had very bad experiences with them & they have a poor reputation among many real estate agents. I only recommend this program if you are looking to purchase with no down payment for a home price between $350,000 and 1 million due to the better option at Garrett Mortgage powered by Langley Federal when considering under $350,000 with no down payment.
There are certain credit requirements for most programs. If credit is a concern for you, keep in mind that I help others credit for free who want to buy a home, and I can put you in contact with lenders who have a higher level of expertise than I do who also help others' credit for free when considering a mortgage loan. For more on improving your credit, see my credit page here.