June is recognized as National Homeownership Month by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This year, their theme is ‘Find Your Place in the New Era of Homeownership.’ If you’re looking to buy a home in New Jersey, it’s now even easier to find your place thanks to a new program from New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA).
The New Jersey HomeSeeker Program offers first-time homebuyers and veterans $16,000 in the form of a forgivable loan. Some of the requirements include:
- Purchases must be in Atlantic, Gloucester or Camden Counties
- The $16,000 is 100% forgiven if the owner stays in their home for 5 years
- The mortgage must be obtained through NJHMFA's Homeward Bound program and use their approved lenders
- The maximum household income is $122,780
- Maximum Home Price: $437,349 (if 2-4 unit, $559,854)
- Borrowers must have a FICO score of at least 620
- Veterans do not need to be first-time homeowners to qualify for funds
Housing Counseling is Required
One requirement of HomeSeeker is that homebuyers meet with HUD-approved housing counselors for pre-purchase counseling. Clarifi, a nonprofit with offices in Atlantic City, Galloway, Burlington and Cherry Hill is among those agencies.
“Owning a home can positively impact personal wealth, neighborhood stability and the local economy as a whole,” says Stephanie Bittner, senior New Jersey outreach manager for Clarifi. “HomeSeeker offers families the boost they need to achieve the victory of homeownership.”
Fed Study Confirms the Benefits of Housing Counseling
In 2014, Clarifi completed a five-year study with Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia which looked at the benefits of pre-purchase counseling. A treatment group received homeownership education and counseling, while a control group only received education.
After the completed of the study, participants who became homeowners lowered their mortgage debt, waited longer to make a purchase, paid a lower price for a home and were more successful in reducing late payments.
How to Make an Appointment
New Jersey residents who live in Atlantic, Camden or Gloucester Counties can make an appointment online or by calling 800-989-2227.
HomeSeeker is not to be confused with two other NJHMFA initiatives, HomeSaver and HomeKeeper, programs geared to help homeowners avoid foreclosure and become current on their mortgage and arrears. Clarifi offers no-cost appointments to apply for their programs.
Watch Our HomeSeeker interview on Comcast Newsmakers