Impact 5: Grant money for down payment towards first home

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - Things are getting too crowded in Antoine Regis's Riviera Beach home.

"We do have a large family, about 8 of us, we've got 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and it's a little bit too small for the family," Regis said.

Now he's on the hunt for a house that will be a little more comfortable for everyone, including his mother.

"I'm shopping for a home right now over in Royal Palm Beach, Wellington area, west of West Palm Beach," Regis said.

Regis has been saving, but he needs a little more to afford the home he really wants.  That's where "Homeownership for All" comes in.

"It's a great program for people who want to purchase a home but might not have the savings or might not have the money to put down as a down payment," Kenesha Wood with R.E.A.C.H. said.

R.E.A.C.H. is a local non-profit HUD -approved counseling agency. It is teaming up with HomeFree USA   and E*TRADE to help new homeowners save.

For every $100 put into an E*TRADE savings account towards purchasing a new home, E*TRADE will match $25.

"So if you do save $40,000 you will get a $10,000 match. The great part is with taxes going to roll around in January or February, we're all going to be getting some money back. You can take that money and put it inside the account and we will match that money once you're ready to purchase your home," Wood said.

Here's the fine print:

HomeFree-USA – REACH staff will be responsible for acting as program facilitator and grants administrator for the matching grant program. Only first time home buyers are eligible to enroll into the matching Grant program. Enrollees must either meet the income and / or census tract requirements in order to become eligible to receive matching grants.
The qualifications of the program are:
•    Enrollee Profile - The enrollee must be a first time homebuyer (meaning the enrollee has not owned a home within 3 years).
•    Homebuyer Education - The enrollee must complete at least six (6) hours of certified training in home buying and credit responsibility.
•    Home Ownership Counseling - Must successfully complete six (6) weeks (12 hours) of homeownership classroom training.
•    Matching Grant Savings – Must open an matching grant account with E*TRADE  Financial through E*TRADE Bank and make a minimum deposit of $50 per month (or in any amount up to the maximum amount to be matched, which is $10,000)
•    Census Tract Requirements – All HomeFree-USA Matching Grant participants must either purchase their home within the Low to moderate census tracts or meet income guidelines.
•    Income requirements are applicable if the home is not located within the low to moderate census tract areas. Such requirements are based on 80% of family median income in the Broward County area. Fort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach, FL 

The program kicks off Saturday, November 10, 2012 at the "Homeownership for All" event at the Sheraton Suites Cypress Creek in Fort Lauderdale located at 555 NW 62nd Street.  You must RSVP for the free event.

Anyone interested in learning more can call R.E.A.C.H. at 561-491-1670.

Additional information about grant program:

-Are you required to attend Saturday's event to qualify for the grant program?
You are not required to attend the event on Saturday to qualify for the grant program. Interested individuals will need to contact REACH for enrollment information.

-How long does the money have to stay in an E*TRADE Checking account?
The funds will need to stay in the account for a minimum of 60 days and the client must meet all of the requirements to qualify for the match.  

-If the customer doesn't want to use the savings for a home is there a penalty for withdrawing the money?
There is no penalty for withdrawing the funds and the client has full access to their funds at all times.  The savings is for the purpose of dispersing matched funds at the time of closing a mortgage loan transaction.

-Is there ever a scenario where the customer will get back less than they contributed to the account?
The customer will receive all of the funds contributed less normal banking fees if incurred.

-Is there a time-limit on how long the money can stay in the account?
The HomeFree USA – REACH has limited match funds and the time-limit is determined by HomeFree USA.  The savings can stay in the account until the HomeFree USA match fund is depleted or later if the program participant desires to continue saving without expectation of receiving matched funds.

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