10 Best States for Helping Home Buyers

© AP Photo/Nick Ut
© AP Photo/Nick Ut

Most Americans want to achieve the dream of homeownership, but for many, that dream is fraught with financial obstacles. That’s why all 50 states and Washington, D.C., offer specific home-buying-assistance programs to help residents turn homeownership into a reality.

HSH.com recently created a database of the home-buying-assistance programs in every state. From that database, we have assembled a list of the states which offer the most robust set of programs to their residents.

What makes a set of programs the best? We rewarded states with home-buying programs open to the majority of borrowers with the most points — four points per program. Down-payment assistance was assigned the second-most significant weight — three points per program. Finally, all of the other ancillary programs were awarded equally — one point per program.

We divided the programs into several categories: first-time and/or repeat buyer purchase programs, down-payment assistance, mortgage credit certificate, energy efficient, home improvement, veterans, disabled homebuyers, and job-specific.

For states that had a tie score, we used higher population (the ability to help more residents) as the tie-breaker.

Here is HSH.com’s list of the states with the best home-buyer programs:

10. MONTANA

Score: 18
Number of programs: 7
Montana has the third-lowest foreclosure rate in the U.S., according to CoreLogic’s March 2015 National Foreclosure Report. Perhaps it’s all the support the state lends to first-time buyers. Montana offers seven statewide programs: three purchase programs, one down-payment-assistance program, a program designed to construct, acquire or rehabilitate homes for disabled buyers, a low-rate program for veterans, and a mortgage credit certificate.

9. MISSISSIPPI

Score: 19
Number of programs: 7
The Mississippi Association of Realtors acknowledges that while low inventory and added regulation are holding the local market back to a certain degree, the state is making considerable progress following the downturn. To help more residents achieve the dream of homeownership, Mississippi offers seven statewide programs: two purchase programs, three down-payment-assistance programs, a program for low-income disabled first-time buyers, and a mortgage credit certificate.

8. IOWA

Score: 20
Number of programs: 7
The spring home buying season has been good to Iowa so far with both prices and sales on the rise. There’s no better time for potential buyers to utilize the home buying programs the state offers. Iowa offers seven statewide programs, including three purchase programs, two down-payment-assistance programs, a program specifically designed for veterans, and a mortgage credit certificate. Down-payment assistance is available statewide to both first-time and repeat buyers.

7. CALIFORNIA

Score: 20
Number of programs: 8
First-time homebuyers face tough conditions in California as affordability continues to decline. To help improve affordability, the state offers two first-time and repeat purchase programs, three down-payment-assistance programs, a mortgage credit certificate, a program specifically designed for California teachers, and an effort to promote energy conservation by providing buyers with the opportunity to finance energy-efficient improvements.

6. IDAHO

Score: 22
Number of programs: 7
Idaho offers its homebuyers three first-time and repeat purchase programs, three down-payment-assistance programs, and a mortgage credit certificate. Idaho’s purchase programs serve many different audiences: FHA, VA, USDA, manufactured housing, 30-, 20- and 15-year conventional loans, and FHA 203(k) loans.

5. NORTH DAKOTA

Score: 23
Number of programs: 8
The oil boom in North Dakota has begun to attract many new residents to the state. In an effort to turn those residents into homeowners, North Dakota offers three first-time and repeat purchase programs, three down-payment-assistance programs, a low-rate program for single parents, veterans, the disabled and/or the elderly, and a home-improvement program.

4. COLORADO

Score: 25
Number of programs: 9
The population boom in Colorado is certainly one of the factors contributing to the state’s limited housing inventory – there simply aren’t enough for-sale properties to accommodate the demand. But the state is certainly doing its part to assist home buyers. Colorado offers four first-time and repeat purchase programs, two down-payment-assistance programs, two programs for buyers with disabilities, and a mortgage credit certificate.

3. NEW YORK

Score: 25
Number of programs: 10
According to CoreLogic, New York is one of eight states that reached new home-price peaks in April, further ratcheting up the pressure on buyers to purchase a property before prices and mortgage rates move even higher. To help alleviate some of the pressure on buyers, New York offers three first-time and repeat purchase programs, three down-payment-assistance programs, a veterans program, two home-improvement programs and a recapture-tax program.

2. WYOMING

Score: 28
Number of programs: 9
Wyoming has begun to see an influx of buyers from surrounding states who want to take advantage of the lower real estate and income taxes. To help these new buyers capitalize on the ownership opportunities the state has to offer, Wyoming offers five first-time and repeat purchase programs, two down-payment-assistance programs, a home-improvement program, and a mortgage credit certificate.

1. PENNSYLVANIA

Score: 28
Number of programs: 11
Pennsylvania is the top state on our list, offering the most home-buyer-assistance programs. Pennsylvania offers four first-time and repeat purchase programs, two down-payment-assistance programs, two programs for disabled home buyers, two home-improvement programs, a program specifically designed for certain professionals (such as teachers and first responders), and a mortgage credit certificate.
Methodology
Using a weighted average system, HSH.com assigned a score to each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. States that offered first-time and repeat buying programs were awarded most generously (four points per program). Down-payment and/or closing-cost assistance options were weighed as the second-most important feature (three points per program). Finally, all the other ancillary programs were awarded equally (one point per program). We divided the programs into several categories: first-time and/or repeat buyer purchase programs, down-payment assistance, mortgage credit certificate, energy efficient, home improvement, veterans, disabled homebuyers, and job-specific. For states that had a tie score, we used higher population (the ability to help more residents) as the tie-breaker.

Written by Tim Manni of HSH.com

(Source: HSH)

First-Time Buyers Push Home Sales to a 5-Year High

Copyright Mark Moz/Flickr
Copyright Mark Moz/Flickr

U.S. home resales surged to a 5-1/2-year high in May as first-time buyers stepped into the market, the latest indication that housing and overall economic activity were gathering steam in the second quarter.

The National Association of Realtors said on Monday existing home sales increased 5.1 percent to an annual rate of 5.35 million units, the highest level since November 2009.

That left sales this year on track for their strongest performance since 2007.

“It suggests that the U.S. housing market recovery is back on track after the missteps earlier this year. We expect this upbeat tone in the housing recovery to continue as the favorable domestic fundamentals begin to reassert themselves,” said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York.

Last month’s increase unwound April’s surprise drop in purchases, which economists had dismissed as a blip given that forward-looking indicators on home sales, including mortgage applications, had been fairly strong during that period.

The Realtors group revised April’s sales pace up to 5.09 million units from the previously reported 5.04 million units. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast home resales rising to a 5.26 million-unit pace last month.

First-time buyers accounted for 32 percent of transactions, the largest share since September 2012. Still, the share remains well below the 40 percent to 45 percent that economists and realtors say is required for a robust housing market.

May’s sturdy home sales report added to last week’s data on building permits in portraying an upbeat picture of the housing market. It joined strong retail sales, consumer sentiment and employment data reports in suggesting a building up of momentum in the economy after output contracted at the start of the year.

The strengthening economic outlook keeps the Federal Reserve on course to raise interest rates later this year.

U.S. stocks extended gains on the housing data. Market sentiment was also buoyed by hopes of a deal to avert a debt default by Greece. The housing index (.HGX) was up 0.76 percent. The dollar was little changed against a basket of currencies, while prices for U.S. Treasury debt fell.

Strong demand for accommodation, especially among young adults as they find employment, is giving the housing market a steady pulse after a lackluster performance over the last few years. Tightening labor market conditions are also starting to spur stronger wage growth, boosting demand for housing.

Economists hope that housing will strengthen enough to take up some of the slack from manufacturing, which is being stymied by the lingering effects of a strong dollar and spending cuts in the energy sector, and support the economy this year.

“The  continued resilience in existing home sales gives further support to the notion that much of the Q1 weakness in resales was weather-related,” said Derek Lindsey, an analyst at BNP Paribas in New York.

While the stock of homes for sales is improving, supply remains fairly tight and continues to limit choice for potential buyers. Last month, the inventory of unsold homes on the market increased 3.2 percent from April to 2.29 million units. Supply was up only 1.8 percent from a year ago.

At May’s sales pace, it would take 5.1 months to clear houses from the market, down from 5.2 months in April. A supply of six months is viewed as a healthy balance between supply and demand.

With supply well below what it was at the height of the housing market boom in 2006, the median price for a previously owned home increased 7.9 percent from a year ago to $228,700. House prices this year could exceed the peak set in 2006, the Realtors group said.

While the strong house price gains could reduce affordability, they are raising equity for homeowners, encouraging some to put their houses on the market.

Realtors and economists say insufficient equity has been forcing potential sellers to stay longer in their homes. A survey by the Realtors association showed homeowners on average staying in their homes for 10 years instead of the typical seven years.

Written by Lucia Mutikani of Reuters

(Source: MSN)