Bank of America and Suncoast Housing Connections strive to expand homeownership • St Pete Catalyst

In the middle of a growing affordable housing crisis, the largest bank in Tampa-St. The St. Petersburg region offers a potential solution for future owners.

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) has extended a two-year program that provides grants for down payments and certain closing costs.

The bank has tripled its community home ownership pledge to $ 15 billion to help 60,000 people and families nationwide buy homes by 2025, after completing its Home Buyers Outlook 2020 Report.

“We found that nationally, 70% of our clients indicated they needed down payment assistance to keep up with rising market prices and just to afford a home. Said Scott Stange, local consumer loan market leader at Bank of America. “One in five nationwide need financial advice to prepare for homeownership. “

Bank of America is one of many financial institutions, as well as nonprofit organizations and government agencies, that provide help to first-time homebuyers and low-income people.

Bank of America’s program includes two exclusive Homebuyer Grant programs to help potential homebuyers with the upfront costs of homeownership:

• Advance grants. Qualifying buyers can receive 3% of the purchase price of the home, up to $ 10,000, whichever is less, to use for their down payment. No refund is required.

• America’s Home Grant program, with a credit of up to $ 7,500 that can be used for non-recurring closing costs such as title insurance or registration fees, or to permanently reduce the interest rate. . Funds do not require repayment and can be combined with down payment grants.

When grant programs are used together, homebuyers receive an average of about $ 14,000 to help them buy their homes, according to A press release form the bank.

Scott stange

Grant programs can be used in combination with low down payment loans, which are fixed rate mortgages with down payments as low as 3% and require low cost or no cost mortgage insurance.

“Homeownership is often the single most important financial transaction most clients will make in their life. It gives them the opportunity to gain equity in their home, to be proud of being a homeowner, to give them stability and a chance to build personal wealth and equity, ”Stange said. “It is important for the bank to improve the financial lives of our customers. We are always looking to improve others and make the dream of owning a home come true. Many people do not understand how to navigate these waters. As a service company and local partner, we want to be able to support them, whether with Bank of America or any other lender. It’s the right thing to do for our community.

Tight inventory

Bank of America also partners with credit solutions advisors including Suncoast Housing Connections (formerly Tampa Bay Community Development Corp.) in Clearwater and Solita’s House in Tampa. These two organizations help future homeowners understand what it means to own a home.

Suncoast, a HUD-approved consulting agency, has multiple partnerships, most notably with the St. Petersburg-based company Raymond James Bank, which offers a variety of down payment assistance programs designed for first-time buyers in Florida. BankUnited, Cadence Bank, Synovus and Regions are among the other lenders listed on Suncoast website.

Helping homebuyers find affordable housing is more important than ever, said Fran Pheeny, CEO of Suncoast.

“Covid has highlighted many issues and the importance of preparing people for homeownership, just like the last financial crisis,” Pheeny said. “Studies of home buyers during the last financial crisis showed that people who received pre-purchase housing advice were considerably less likely to end up in foreclosure than people who did. have not done. “

New homeowners also need an independent review of their financial situation and advice on how to avoid predatory loan products, Pheeny said.

“There is also the problem that people who receive pre-purchase housing advice or even just go to a training course for homebuyers understand all the costs associated with homeownership and the importance of having reservations for repairs, as well as making sure you get a home inspection. “Pheeny said.” It’s really important that people get this help before they see a lender. “

On his deposit center siteBank of America lists other housing agencies and nonprofit organizations that can help with the upfront costs of buying a home.

The bank can also pre-approve potential home buyers, which is useful when stocks are tight, as they are now.

“We’re going to run out of all Pinellas County single family homes for sale in 24 days if no more homes are on the market by then,” wrote Liane Jamason, broker / owner of the DWELL Real Estate office at Saint PETERSBOURG. a blog post March 22.

“With the low inventory, we can offer clients the ability to pre-approve and prepare for these grants, so that they are more timely in their offers and can take advantage of them when they go looking for a home,” said Stange. “It gives them a head start in the overall buying process and gives them the confidence to get started. These programs provide that peace of mind.

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