Down payment assistance available for some home buyers

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Do you want to buy a home, but you don't have enough for a down payment? If you're a first-time home buyer, then you may qualify for some down payment assistance. And if you stay in the home long enough, you don't have to pay the money back.

For Brazilian-born schoolteacher Monica Schwafaty, buying her first home, a condominium in Huntington Beach, is truly an American dream come true.

But her dream almost didn't happen. Even though she makes a decent salary, Schwafaty didn't have quite enough down payment after putting her daughter through college.

Then, while talking to her mortgage lender, Michelle Scott, president of Luxury Property Lending, she learned about a relatively new down payment assistance program called the Daisy Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Program. It can put up to $15,000 into the first-time home buyer's pocket that may not have to be paid back.

"There's a lot of people in the market that don't realize that they could have this extra tool to help them buy a more-expensive home, or help them with their closing cost, or think, 'Well I can't afford to buy a home now because I don't have enough money saved even though I have the monthly income,'" said Scott.

One of the nice features of this down payment assistance program is that you don't have to be in a low-income bracket. In fact, the limitations are quite high. They depend on the county in which you live.

For example, in Los Angeles County, the limit is $97,650. Orange County: $108,350. In Riverside and San Bernardino counties, it's $72,850. And Ventura County is $106,450.

Besides income limits, other requirements include being a first-time home buyer; the first mortgage must be $400,000 or less; the home needs to be the primary owner-occupied residence.

And, prior to closing:

"For the free money you have to give up eight hours on a Saturday and go to a HUD-approved first-time home buyer counseling class," said Scott.

But here's the best part of the Daisy program:

"It's fully forgiven after three years. So it is free money if you stay in the house for three years," said Scott. "If you don't stay in the house for three years, then you have to pay back the money."

Schwafaty will soon be moving into her new place, fulfilling a lifetime goal.

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