11/05/2008

Long Beach First-Time Home Buying Assistance


Good news for first time buyers in the Long Beach area: The buyer affordability index is higher than it's been in several years--in Los Angeles County it's up to 40% or higher. Condo prices in particular have softened a great deal, and house prices are lowering also.
One of the best bets for first time buyers right now are FHA loans because of 3% or 3.5% down payment, flexible credit score guidelines, and somewhat more forgiving debt ratios. For a few people with FICO scores over 740 who plan on buying a single family residence, there might be minimal opportunities for a 5% down loan. Otherwise, buyers will need to have 10% down payment or more. Additional programs (requiring specific lenders) is the California Housing Finance Agency, a program that may work in combination with loans.

Down Payment Assistance Program
The City of Long Beach, however, does have a second mortgage assistance program for first-time buyers who purchase a primary residence in the City and in certain areas, with as little as 1% of the purchase price out of their own funds, and who meet certain eligibilty requirements, as of October 1st.

The borrower must currently live or work in Long Beach or show evidence of a job offer in the city, and household income for two adults cannot exceed $57,400, for example, or $71,800 for 4 adults. The maximum sales price for the City's program is for condos under $332,500 and single family residence with a sales price under $500,650. For example, today, in the Southern California MLS, there are over 475 active listings for 2+ bedroom condos or houses priced at $350,000 and under in Long Beach. Not all of these fall within the areas specific to the City program, but, for example, if you enjoy the downtown area and adjacent sections, this program could be for you. First, you must be pre-approved with a qualified lender for this program. If you contact me, I can help you find a lender working with this City program.

As part of your homebuyer education, it's important to find a good loan officer; yes, internet research helps with some basic information, but one of the pitfalls for many buyers is in making decisions or coming to conclusions about financing based on random internet searches that only tell part of the story. Lending guidelines have changed radically during 2008; keeping your information updated and developing contact with an experienced financial person is crucial to your home purchase.

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