Home Buying: A Look at Housing Incentives

By: Allison Millar, Contributing Writer
In: Product review
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Let’s face it. In today’s economy, many home buyers need a little help buying their dream home–or even a starter one. If you’re on the home buying fence, do some research to see what programs are out there. A quick glance around the web unearthed the following government and private industry programs:

  • California. This state has incentives for home buyers who sign a contract by the end of the year. Qualified buyers can receive as much as $10,000 as a state tax credit. California is looking to give away $100 million in incentives through this program.
  • Missouri. St. Louis County offers down payment and closing cost funding up to $3,000 for qualifying buyers.
  • HUD. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has several housing incentives, including special deals when buying a HUD home. Here’s a searchable link for homes in Florida (but you can search in any state).
  • Private Industry. Home builders have been offering steep discounts and mortgage assistance in many areas. Real estate companies offer incentives as well. Coldwell Banker is asking their sellers to offer up to $8,000 in price reductions per house. Just make sure you get the price you want on the home, plus the extra money on top. You want to make sure you’re really getting $8,000 more. (Not sure why Coldwell Banker isn’t chipping in as a company, but that’s another story.)

As you peruse the incentives, focus on the home price and your bottom line mortgage costs. Is the home a good deal? Can you afford the mortgage every month, plus any general maintenance costs? The HUD website provides information to help you figure out how much house you can afford and even offers the opportunity to talk with a housing counselor.

At the end of the day, how do the numbers work? Would an extra $3,000 to $8,000 (on top of today’s reduced housing prices) be enough to make you a home buyer? Look around. Get creative. Hopefully, the incentives can make a difference.

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