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October 26th, 2009 12:58 PM by David W. Welch
Mary Shanklin covers the real estate market for the Orlando Sentinel, and had a great article this morning on the state's attempt to turn the tax credit into down payment assistance. When this went into effect back in the summer, I checked with every lender I know. Every one of them had questions about how the assistance was going to be administered. Some were really trying to figure it out, and others just gave up immediately. With millions of dollars going unused, it appears to be another example of government cheese. If you remember back in the 80's the government gave away cheese. It was a program that really did not seem to help anyone other than the late night comics looking for good joke.
Down payment assistance for first time home buyers is not a joke. I believe the biggest obstacle to home ownership for most first time home buyers is the down payment. The FHA minimum down payment on the median priced home in Orlando of $130,000 is $4,550. Add to that closing costs that could also be around $4,500, and that is $9,000 the buyer needs to get into their first house. Many sellers are willing to put up the 3% toward the buyers closing costs, but well priced properties are frequently drawing multiple offers. The buyer with more cash wins that contest more often than not. Fully funding the existing state and local down payment assistance programs would be a better use of money than the tax credit. Some argue that the credit is supposed stimulate purchases after the closing of the home, but if the buyer does not have the cash to close in the first place there won't be a sale. Existing systems, processes and procedures are already in place, they just lack funds. We don't need more cheese, we need solutions that work.
Orlando Real Estate, David Welch Real Estate Optimist