Buying a home? New state program offering up to $50,000 assistance
Discouraged by rising interest rates and sky-high home prices? A new state program is offering up to $50,000 to help first-time homebuyers with down payments and closing costs, but only for a limited time.
The new “Time To Own” program just launched Monday. It’s already generating lots of interest.
Robert Madden of Norwalk knows how tough it is. He just closed on his first home – and paid well-above asking price.
"Put in about seven, eight offers on houses, and I finally had one work out,” he said.
“Time To Own” is open to first-time buyers and those who haven’t owned a home in the last three years. You must already live in Connecticut.
"It's going to create sustainable home ownership for hundreds of Connecticut residents,” said Connecticut Housing Finance Authority CEO Nandini Natarajan.
The new program pays:
• Up to 20% of down payment
• Up to 5% of closing costs
You can borrow up to $50,000 in the most expensive housing markets, and $25,000 everywhere else – all interest-free.
Where does your house fall? Addresses in “very high” or “high” opportunity zones qualify for the most assistance:
The longer you stay in your home, the less you have to pay back. After 10 years, the loan is completely forgiven.
Connecticut Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquero-Bruno says they want to help families looking to settle down, not real estate speculators.
"I don't want somebody to go and buy a home and flip it the next day and take $25,000,” she said.
Not everyone qualifies for the assistance. Participants must use a CHFA first-time homebuyer loan. A dozen lenders across the state offer them, but the loans are limited to homes under $578,000 in Fairfield County, or less than $350,000 elsewhere. CHFA loans have the added benefit of lower interest rates.
“Time To Own” also has income restrictions:
• Fairfield County: $135,900/year
• New Haven County: $99,200/year
• Litchfield County: $112,600/year
The income limits are the same for single buyers and families, potentially pricing out couples buying a home together. To help qualify, Natarajan suggests only one spouse apply for a mortgage.
But could “Time To Own” actually backfire? It's already nearly impossible to find a home and more buyers could make it even harder. But realtor Kim Tromba thinks the program might actually get more houses on the market.
"It'll be interesting to see,” she said. "Hopefully, it will encourage more people to list, knowing that buyers are shopping with cash."
Rob Madden was too late to qualify for the help, but he’s happy the money is there for others.
"It certainly would've helped and hopefully it will help a lot more families that might be paying those interest rates get into houses,” he said.
If you want to apply, act fast. The state only allocated $20 million for a pilot program, and lenders will stop taking applications once the money runs out.