Good News For First-Timers

Across the nation, home buying programs help families live their dreams

might know of housing assistance programs in the area.

By tapping into grant money, Maddrey and her fiancé, Gary Weatherbe, have been able to combine their savings to build a cash cushion for the house plus fund their upcoming wedding. “It feels really good” to be a homeowner, Maddrey says, especially because her two sons, Arrin, 12, and Mekhi, 1, now have a place to call their own and no longer live in a cramped two-bedroom apartment. “We’re decorating everything now and really making it home.”

Programs For 1st Timers
Banks, financial institutions, and even nonprofit groups are making it easier than ever for you to go from tenant to homeowner. The following is just a sampling of what’s out there.
Wells Fargo ( The Home Opportunities program is available to public employees and members of the military. It offers no-money-down, up to 100% financing on a single-family home, condominium, co-op, or multi-unit property. Wells Fargo’s “Easy-to-Own” program offers low down payment options of just 3% or 5%. The bank is also an active participant in more than 1,500 down payment assistance programs across the country.

Washington Mutual (; 877-800-9268). WaMu offers potential home buyers deferred payment or low-interest loans, down payment and mortgage assistance, and shared appreciation mortgages. The bank is a participant in state programs targeting first-time home buyers with low to moderate incomes and limited funds for a down payment. Qualifications for receiving grants and actual amounts awarded vary from state to state.

The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (; 888-302-NACA). Services from this nonprofit community advocacy and housing organization include home-buying workshops, financial counseling, and home evaluations. NACA offers below-market-rate loans, currently at 5.5%, and mortgages that feature no down payments, no closing costs, and no application fees. To meet eligibility qualifications, applicants must sign up for a free workshop, cannot own other property, must live in the home they’re purchasing, and must meet certain income requirements.

The Nehemiah Program (; 877-634-3642). This is the nation’s largest privately funded down payment assistance program. Over the past decade, Nehemiah has provided roughly $875 million to more than 225,000 families. Among the features of The Nehemiah Program are gift funds up to 6% of the final contract sales price to put toward down payment and/or closing costs and financing for new construction or the purchase of an existing home. What’s more, there are no income, asset, or geographical restrictions to qualify.
— L.K.

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