If you are someone who keeps up with Real Estate and Housing in Philadelphia, then you may have heard a thing or two about the new program that the city started to help potential homebuyers purchase their first home. Even if this is complete news to you, I’ve created this post to tell you all about the “Philly First Home Program” which took effect this past June.
It’s no surprise that a home purchase for the average Philadelphian (and American) is one of the more heftier financial commitments that a person can make. Especially in a city like Philly where transfer taxes sit at upwards of 4%, being able to put money down for the downpayment on a home, along with covering the required closing costs can be a challenge for many people.
There are already a number of different programs that exist for first time homebuyers. For instance, you have the commonly talked about FHA program, which provides first timers with the luxury of only having to come up with 3.5% for the down payment. Or the various conventional loan programs that ask you to commit 3% up front. The list goes on.
So what makes this new assistance grant supported by the City’s Division of Housing and Community Development and funded by expired tax abatements, as intriguing as it is? Well for one, the program can be used in conjunction with other grant programs that exist, such as First Front Door or any in-house grant programs offered by lenders and housing counseling agencies. Moreover, the funding from the grant, 6% of the home purchase price or $10,000 — whichever is lower — can go towards down payment and closing costs.
What are the criteria for the program? First of all, you must be a first-time homebuyer, defined in this instance as an individual who has had no ownership of a principal residence in the past 3 years. Second, your income cannot exceed the following: $73,440 for a household of 1, $84,000 for a household of 2, $94,440 for a household of 3, and $104,880 for a household of 4. And lastly, you must go through a housing counseling program, where you will learn about topics such avoiding dangerous mortgages, the mortgage process overall, credit repair and maintenance, along with other relevant topics useful to a first-time homebuyer. This program must be completed before signing an agreement of sale to purchase a home.
One aspect of the grant to be aware of is that if you decide to move or refinance the home within 15 years of the purchase date, you will be asked to repay the grant. This stipulation, which seems to really stump folks, is surely a downside to the Philly First Home program. In a way it can be seen as more of a loan than a grant depending on the decisions you make. Keep in mind, however, that the program does allow you to purchase an owner-occupant duplex with funds from the program.
Anyhow, if you have questions on Philly First Home, the homebuying process in general, or would just like to discuss your Real Estate goals, feel free to send me an email at AB@mosaicbrokerage.com, or reach out to me on instagram @sirakinb