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Opening the Door to Homeownership in Illinois

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Thursday, April 3, 2014   

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Just as the spring home-buying season kicks off, the state is launching a new program to help more Illinoisans open the door to a new house. According to the Illinois Housing Development Authority's executive director, Mary Kenney, changes in debt-to-income restrictions and other requirements during the housing crisis pushed many first-time buyers out of the market. She said the new "Welcome Home Illinois" program aims to bring them back.

"The biggest hurdle often for many first time home-buyers is acquiring the down payment and so, the program provides $7,500 in down payment assistance for first-time home buyers, and right now, currently, we're offering a very low rate, much below the market, at 3.99 percent."

The loan is secured by a second mortgage to help with down payment or closing costs. The borrowers must contribute the greater of 1 percent of the overall purchase price, or $1000.00, toward the down payment. In the past, first-time home buyers made up 40 percent of the Illinois housing market, but Kenney said that in the last few years that's fallen to only 21 percent.

Under federal tax code, a first-time home-buyer is defined as a person who hasn't purchased or owned a home in three years. Kenney said that means the program can be used by people who might have been displaced during the housing crisis.

"We saw a lot of folks that had short sales or other credit issues, and those issues typically resolve within a 36-month period. And so, we're seeing a lot of those borrowers now return to the market," she said. "So, this program could offer an opportunity for those folks as well."

The program is funded through Illinois Jobs Now! and the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and is expected to generate more than $40 million in economic activity for the state.

Program information is at IHDA.org.




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