Accumulating the cash needed to buy your first home while paying rent and perhaps student loan debt can be challenging. State and local governments offer support for home buyers in the form of down payment assistance, closing cost assistance and low-interest mortgages. These programs are not always limited to first-time buyers. Requirements vary, and a good place to start is DownPaymentResource.com, a site that provides searchable information about nationwide programs.
Maryland has several offerings under the Maryland Mortgage Program run by the Department of Housing and Community Development. Keep in mind that programs limited to first-time buyers follow the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of a first-time buyer as someone who has not owned a home in the past three years.
Available programs for Maryland residents include:
Maryland Mortgage Program: The Maryland Mortgage Program includes a 30-year fixed-rate loan with a low interest rate as well as grants or loans to pay for closing costs and a down payment. Eligibility depends on income limits that vary according to county and household size, as well as purchase limits. For example, in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, the maximum household income limit ranges from $145,560 to $169,820. The maximum purchase price in those counties ranges from $679,847 to $830,925 and depends on whether the area is targeted for economic redevelopment. The property must be your primary residence, you can’t own another home and your liquid assets such as savings or gift money must not exceed 20 percent or more of the purchase price of the house.
SmartBuy: The SmartBuy program is designed to help people with student loan debt who want to become homeowners. The program allows buyers with a minimum of $1,000 in student loan debt to pay their student loan debt and essentially refinance it into a mortgage. The student loan debt payoff is limited to 15 percent of the home price, up to a maximum of $40,000. To be eligible, borrowers need to pay off all student loan debt above that amount at the time of the home purchase.
Maryland HomeCredit: This mortgage credit certificate programs allows home buyers within certain income limits to take a federal income tax credit up to 25 percent of the mortgage interest paid on their loans through the Maryland mortgage program.
Partner Match: A variety of organizations, including employers and local governments, offer matching funds that can be used with the Maryland Mortgage Premier loan program to add up to $2,500 in down payment and closing cost assistance.
The best way to get started with these programs is to contact a state-approved lender to discuss options.