NEW YORK (MainStreet) — There's some good news on mortgage down payment help: 87% of all U.S. homes qualify.
RealtyTrac found that 68 million Americans in 78 million single-family homes are eligible for mortgage down payment programs in their home county, based on price requirements and the potential value of their properties.
The aid could unlock a door into the residential real estate market for people previously locked out because they didn't have enough money saved for a down payment.
"Many homebuyers, especially Millennials, haven't fully investigated their home financing options because they are pessimistic about qualifying for a mortgage," says Rob Chrane, chief executive at Down Payment Resource, which tracks the mortgage down payment assistance market. "In fact, 91% of the 2,290 programs in our registry have funds available to lend to eligible buyers."Read More: There's a Flaw in All That Good News About Real Estate So Far in 2015
Finding that cash may not be as hard as you think; RealtyTrac says only a "few minutes of your time" can uncover multiple paths to down payment help.
Start with Freddie Mac's invaluable Sources of Down Payments and Closing Costs Assistance, a guide to how housing finance agencies and state, local and municipal agencies can help with your new home mortgage.
Where you live has a big influence on how much help you can get. Tim Lucas, editor at MyMortgageInsider.com, points out that in Orlando, Fla., down payment assistance of up to $42,000 is available to low- to moderate-income buyers. In Seattle, buyers can qualify for up to $45,000 in down payment assistance at a 3% interest rate, with payments deferred for 30 years.Read More: To Mortgage Applicants, Increasingly It’s Go Digital or Go Home
In addition, NeighborWorks America is available in 235 areas across the country, Lucas says. It offers down payment help to 14,000 families each year, while Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA guidelines permit the buyer to get a down payment gift from an employer or relative. "Nonprofits can also cover the buyer's entire down payment and closing costs, helping the borrower to get into a home with zero out of their own pocket," he adds.
The bank right down the street is a good bet, too, even as sub-prime and no-document or stated income loans remain a thing of the past.
"Reach out to your local bank's loan officer and ask what types of down payment assistance programs are available," says Kurt Westfield, managing director at WC Equity Group, a Tampa, Fla., real estate management and services firm. Chances are there are many options, especially for first-time homeowners or veterans, Westfield says.
— By Brian O'Connell for MainStreet