What is the Welcome Home Program?
The Welcome Home Program (WHP) offers grants to fund reasonable down payments and closing costs incurred in conjunction with the acquisition or construction of owner-occupied housing by low- and moderate-income homebuyers. The grants are limited to $5,000 per homebuyer and Members are subject to an aggregate limit of $200,000 per offering. All funds are reserved for specific homebuyers purchasing specific homes and cannot be transferred to other homebuyers or to other homes. Welcome Home funds will be available for reservation on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8:00 AM ET on March 1, 2018, and will remain available until all funds have been reserved.
Who Can Use the WHP?
The FHLB has established a set-aside of Affordable Housing Program (AHP) funds to help create homeownership. These funds are available to Members as grants to assist their mortgage loan applicants in the home buying process. This is our most widely used program, ideally suited to the needs of community lenders and their customers.
What are the Program Requirements?
Below is an abbreviated list of program eligibility requirements:
- The total income for all occupants must be at or below 80 percent of the Mortgage Revenue Bond (MRB) limit for the county and state where the property is located. The FHLB has an Income and Affordability Workbook to assist in determining household income eligibility.
- Homebuyers must contribute at least $500 of their own funds towards down payment and/or closing costs.
- WHP applicants do not have to be first-time homebuyers. However, all first-time homebuyers are required to complete a homeownership counseling program.
- WHP grant funds are intended only for homebuyers who qualify for the first mortgage based on their own merit. Co-signors and co-borrowers are not allowed unless they will occupy the home as their primary residence and their incomes are included in determining eligibility.
- WHP grant funds may be used in conjunction with other local, state and federal funding sources and with the FHLB Cincinnati’s Community Investment Cash Advance Programs.
- The Member who reserves the WHP funds must originate the first loan, but the loan may close in the name of a third party.
- The interest rate for the first mortgage may not exceed 7.50 percent.
- The interest rate for the second mortgage may not exceed 11.00 percent.
- Only second mortgages provided by formal organizations, community development financial institutions, housing finance agencies, non-profit organizations, etc. are acceptable.
All eligible property assisted with WHP funds is subject to a five-year retention mechanism (Retention Agreement), which may require the household to repay all, or a portion, of the subsidy, if the home is sold or refinanced within five years from the closing of the transaction.
How Do I Apply?
Reserving WHP Funds
Homebuyers must apply with one of our Member institutions. Click here to search our Member Directory.
Members may reserve funds via the Welcome Home Program link through the FHLB’s Members Only portal by submitting an online Reservation Request with supporting documentation. Instructions for accessing Members Only may be found here.
The FHLB will perform a preliminary review of the Reservation Request and the documentation submitted to determine eligibility of the homebuyer, availability of funds in the program, and availability of funds for the Member. If any of the information is incomplete, additional documentation or information may be required. Note: The Reservation Request will be denied upon receipt if a fully executed loan application is not included.
Written notification will be provided to the Member as to the homebuyer’s eligibility. Submission of a Reservation Request does not constitute an approval of funds. Funds are reserved only upon written notification of approval from the FHLB.
Please allow four weeks for the FHLB to review the Reservation Request and supporting documentation.
Disbursing WHP Funds
Welcome Home funds will only be disbursed after closing. The FHLB has some general guidance and specific instructions that Members and Closing Agents should use in closing mortgages using Welcome Home funds. Funds will be disbursed only to the extent they are required to fill the gap for down payment, closing costs, and counseling fees.
Members may submit a Request for Payment of Reserved Funding with supporting documentation via the Welcome Home Program link through the FHLB’s Members Only portal. Submission of a Request for Payment of Reserved Funding is not an approval of funds disbursement. Once the Request for Payment of Reserved Funding has been reviewed and approved, funds will be disbursed to the Member.
In the event the FHLB determines that funds were used for an ineligible expense, the grant will be reduced by the amount of the ineligible expense unless the household brings adequate funds to the closing to cover the amount of the ineligible expense. Under no circumstances will cash back to the homebuyer be permitted.
Please allow four to six weeks for the FHLB to review the Request for Payment of Reserved Funding and supporting documentation.
Additional Information and Technical Assistance
Documentation requested by the FHLB must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any documentation requiring an original signature must be mailed to:
Welcome Home Program
P.O. Box 598
Cincinnati, OH 45201-0598
For more information or assistance, please contact the Housing & Community Investment Department at (513) 852- 7680 or toll-free (888) 345-2246 or email us at email@example.com.
For assistance with Members Only, please contact the Service Desk at 800-781-3090.
Where do buyers begin?
Haley Newton, a loan officer with Starkey Mortgage in Sherman, said the first step in the buying process is not finding a house, rather it’s getting prequalified for a home loan. Buyers need to first find out how much house they can afford and if they can actually purchase a home.
“A lot them want to know what the first step is, and many people believe that the first step is finding a house, but that’s actually the second step,” Newton said. “You want to get prequalified with a local lender to know what you’re prequalified for, and then go out and find a house, which is the hard part.”
What documents do buyers need to provide to get prequalified and preapproved?
Prequalification is typically the quick and easy initial step and preapproval is a more involved process. The prequalification process starts with an application, which most lenders have available online, though Newton said buyers can call a lender or meet them in person to fill it out. After buyers fill out an application, which covers the buyers’ finances and history, the lenders will verify the information for preapproval and that requires the supporting documents.
“Once they’re prequalified, we’ll give them a list of documents they need depending on their application,” Newton said.
The list typically calls for pay stubs from the last 30 days, tax returns for the last two years, bank statements for the last two months, W-2s, IDs and Social Security cards.
Jeremy Lewis, branch manager of Grayson Home Loans, said sometimes the lender may require divorce decrees and documentation to indicate other income depending on the buyers’ situation. After preapproval, Lewis said he usually gives the buyers a call, and they figure out a loan program that best fits the buyers.
How much do buyers need for a down payment?
Short answer: It depends on the loan.
Lewis said the down payment is often the main concern for buyers, and it’s not a set amount. Depending on the loan type and what programs the buyers are eligible for, the down payment can be as little as zero down. Loans from the Federal Housing Administration, Veteran Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture each have a set of stipulations that include the percentage required for the down payment.
“It depends on the loan type they’re going with — whether it be a conventional loan, an FHA loan, a VA loan or a USDA loan, it will determine what they’re going to have to place down — what their initial investment is going to be,” Lewis said. “There are still those out there out there that think they have to put 10 to 20 percent down, which is not correct. They can, in certain programs, put as little as zero down.”
Newton said there are down payment assistance programs in the state that can help cover the amount needed. These programs are income based and are capped anywhere from $55,000 to $75,000 depending on the program.
What’s the deal with closing costs?
In addition to a down payment, buyers also need funds to cover the closing costs. Lewis said the closing costs depend on the loan amount as a higher loan amount is going to cost more. About half the closing costs are directed to building the buyers’ escrow account, and the other half is a combination of fees for items such as the title and appraisal.
“Closing costs are another piece of the puzzle they’re going to have to come up with,” Lewis said. “However, in a Texas residential contract, you can ask the sellers to pay a certain percentage, depending on the loan type, for your closing costs.”
Buyers can negotiate with the sellers and ask that the seller pays a portion of the closing costs, which if the buyers qualify for a down payment assistance program, the initial costs can be very low.
“If you’re able to use the down payment assistance programs in addition to requesting the seller to pay some of their closing costs, they can actually get into a home with little to nothing down,” Newton said.
What is an escrow account?
“It kind of works like a separate checking account, and the purpose of that account is to pay the yearly tax bill that comes due every January, and their insurance premium that’s due once a year depending on when they closed on their home,” Newton said.
The initial money put into the escrow account is part of the closing costs, and Lewis said homeowners then add to it monthly when they make their house payments. The account is for buyers to put back money so property taxes and insurance are covered.
“Say when their tax bill comes due in January, there will be plenty of money in the account for them to pay their taxes, so that way they’re not coming up $2 to 3 to 5,000 all at once to pay their tax bill,” Newton said.
Can buyers purchase a home with a bad credit score?
Newton said buyers don’t necessarily need the best credit in order to get a home loan, and she noted that first-time homebuyer programs have recently lowered their credit score requirements.
“A lot people around here they don’t necessarily have bad credit, they just don’t have a lot,” Newton said. “They don’t use their credit.”
Newton said lenders will work with buyers and give them steps to take over 60 to 90 days to boost their credit score to where they can buy a home.
“It can be intimidating but we can walk them through it,” Newton said.
Buyers should consult with local lenders, and Lewis said he guides buyers through the process so they know what to expect.
“There’s so many different moving parts to a loan anymore,” Lewis said. “I try to keep everyone versed and ready for what’s to come in the process and what to expect.”
Senior Loan Officer
American Mortgage Solutions, Inc.
10602 Timberwood Circle, Suite 3
Louisville, KY 40223
text or call my phone: (502) 905-3708
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The view and opinions stated on this website belong solely to the authors, and are intended for informational purposes only. The posted information does not guarantee approval, nor does it comprise full underwriting guidelines. This does not represent being part of a government agency. The views expressed on this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect the view of my employer. Not all products or services mentioned on this site may fit all people. NMLS ID# 57916, (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Mortgage loans only offered in Kentucky.
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Joel E Lobb
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Kentucky FHA, VA, USDA & Rural Housing, KHC and Fannie Mae mortgage loans.
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