Homeport Cracks $1 Million In Downpayment Program

When Sarah Dunlap describes homeownership, she used words like “contentment,” “satisfaction” and “fulfillment.”

“Awesome” is how Troy Keathley describes it.

Netta Whitman

Netta Whitman

Each benefited from a down payment assistance loan program by Franklin County for first time homebuyers.

Future homeowners just don’t sign on for assistance, as much as $6,000 per household. They must first take approved homebuyer education courses like the one Homeport offers.  After 15 years, Homeport has successfully guided 233 families -- including the Dunlaps and Keathleys -- to more than $1 million in down payment assistance loans from the county.

“We are not only helping individual families, this program is of benefit to the entire community,” said Netta Whitman, Director of Homeport Housing Advisory Services.

Appearing before the Franklin County Board of Commissioners on Aug. 23, Whitman said the assistance provided to individuals who graduated from Homeport homebuyer education translates to an investment of $21.8 million in home sales.

The courses are also providing long-term value to the stability of the homeowners and their neighborhoods.

“Studies have shown that clients receiving Homebuyer Education and pre-purchase counseling are one-third less likely to fall behind in their mortgage than buyers who did not receive the (counseling) support,” Whitman told the Commission.

Franklin County down payment funds have several guidelines related to geography, residency and income:

·       The property must be located inside Franklin County and outside the physical jurisdiction of the city of Columbus.

·       The property must serve as the principal residence of the borrower.

·       Applicants must be a first-time homebuyer or must not have owned a home in the past three years.

·       Applicants must earn no more than 80 percent of current HUD guidelines for the Metropolitan Columbus Service Area median income. For example, a household of four would not be able to earn more than $55,000.

The maximum loan from Franklin County is $6,000, of which $4,000 is down payment assistance and $2,000 for closing costs. It comes interest free and requires no repayments. The loan is forgiven if the recipient stays in his or her home six years.

Sarah Dunlap and children

Sarah Dunlap and children

But to be eligible for the loans, individuals must take eight hours of Homebuyer Education from Homeport or another HUD certified housing counseling agency.

The homebuyer education courses taught by Homeport are offered during the week and on weekends.

The class – four, two-hour classes on a weekday, or two, four-hour classes on weekends – introduces potential homebuyers to the key professionals in a potential purchase including lenders, Realtors, home inspectors and title company representatives.

The end result of the process is what counts, graduates of Homeport’s homebuyer course say.

“Coming home everyday to a beautiful home that is mine is a feeling of contentment, satisfaction and fulfillment,” said Dunlap about the Woodland Avenue residence home she shares with her husband and two sons. “I am so grateful for what Homeport did for my family and me.”