Burlington County has made changes to its First-Time Homebuyers Program to provide more assistance for income-eligible individuals and families looking to purchase their first home.
The Burlington County Commissioners voted last week to raise the assistance available for downpayment, closing costs and interest rate reduction from a maximum of $9,000 per buyer to $25,000.
Under the approved changes, $15,000 is now available for downpayment assistance (up from $5,000) and a maximum of $10,000 is available for closing costs and interest reduction (up from $4,000).
The Board also approved changing program rules to permit the County to forgive all loans awarded through the program if the recipient resides in the purchased home for 10 years.
Both changes are intended to make the program more responsive to current market conditions, the needs of Burlington County residents and the hardships low- and moderate-income families face when trying to purchase their first home.
“Burlington County is a premier destination to live, work and raise a family and we want to help more residents become homeowners here,” said Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson. “Boosting this assistance can help make buying a first home more affordable. With inventory shortages and high interest rates, this financial assistance helps ensure that hardworking families are not shutout of any of our local communities and that young adults and other longtime residents don’t need to look outside Burlington County for their first home.”
State Senator Troy Singleton praised the change, saying it would help more families build wealth through homeownership. The Senator recently championed a new law that provides downpayment assistance to certain first-time homebuyers statewide.
“Owning a home is a key component to creating generational wealth, but for many, it becomes out of reach because of the market prices and high interest rates,” said Senator Singleton. “Burlington County’s First-Time Home Buyer Program provides the aid necessary to help hardworking families achieve their American Dream. I applaud the Commissioners for making these changes to help keep homeownership accessible and affordable in Burlington County.”
Burlington County First-Time Homebuyer Program is federally funded and run by the Housing and Community Development Division of the Burlington County Department of Human Services. It provides first-time home buyers with no-interest, forgivable loans for down payments and closing costs or interest rate reduction.
Eligibility is limited to individuals and families seeking to purchase a home in Burlington County who earn no more than 80% of the median family income, which ranges from $62,500 for a single and $89,250 for a family of four, up to $117,850 for a family of eight.
Loans for both the downpayment and closing costs/interest reduction will be forgiven after 10 years but must immediately be repaid if the recipient sells before then or ceases to reside in the property. This is a change to the program, which previously required all downpayment loans to be repaid whenever the home is sold, regardless of how long the buyer lived there. Loans for closing costs were previously forgivable after six years.
Other program requirements remain, including a rule requiring participating buyers to invest a minimum of 3% of the purchase price out of their own funds towards the downpayment. The County also requires program applicants to complete an online, first-time homebuyer training course.
A total of 67 first-time homebuyers have been assisted through the program during the last five years. More than $600,000 in aid was awarded during that period, and 100% of the recipients remain in the home and in compliance with the program.
“The First-Time Home Buyer program is a proven success that has helped lift up numerous hardworking families so they can fulfill their goal of homeownership,” said Commissioner Deputy Director Tom Pullion. “These changes will allow the program to continue to meet the needs of Burlington County residents and help them achieve home ownership. It’s good for our county and helps keep our communities diverse, vibrant and strong.”
Residents seeking an application or more information about the First-Time Homebuyer Program should contact the Division of Housing and Community Development at 609-265-5450 or go online to https://www.co.burlington.nj.us/257/Community-Development-Housing.