Firefighters are an essential part of any community. They put their lives at risk to protect others -- along with their property. Government programs at both the state and national level recognize their importance in our neighborhoods. That’s why there are so many programs to help firefighters buy a home.
The programs help rejuvenate communities across the country by helping first responders and others buy a home. One program even offers 50% discounts on homes. Read on to find out more about these programs. Here’s our comprehensive guide to some key firefighter home loans.
Teacher Next Door is for Firefighters, Too
This program is a HUD initiative and was created with the aim of not just helping teachers. It is also aimed at firefighters, along with EMTs, paramedics, correctional officers, and law enforcement officials. It tries to help and support community development and create more affordable housing at the same time.
It aids firefighters with loan programs and it can also help first responders connect with organizations that may be able to help them reduce their mortgage rates and closing costs. The program is also a great source when it comes to down payment rebates.
This program differs from HUD’s other house-buying program, Good Neighbor Next Door. Unlike that program, this program does not require that you buy in a revitalization area.
There’s also another plus. You don’t have to commit to living in the property you purchase for 36 months. In fact, the program doesn’t have residency requirements at all.
The program also has grants of up to $6,000 for eligible applicants looking to buy a home. The program also gives home buyers access to other grants topping $10,000 for down payment assistance.
There are no application fees for this program, it offers free appraisals (in the form of a credit at closing of nearly $550), and there are no upfront fees.
Good Neighbor Next Door
This is program is also run by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is designed to help firefighters and other first responders like paramedics and police officers purchase a home. Note that the program is not just for first responders. It is also for other civil servants like teachers.
The program offers 50% discounts of HUD-foreclosed homes. But the program does ask for a commitment from homebuyers. They must agree to live in the property for at least 36 months as their sole residence. HUD also requires that the homes be located in revitalization areas. These are HUD-designated geographic areas that the agency is hoping will be revived through expanded home ownership.
FHA Loans for Firefighters
The Federal Housing Administration Loan is one of the key federal funding sources available for firefighters who are first-time homebuyers. It’s a mortgage-insured by the FHA. The loan is issued by an FHA-approved lender and is for low-to-moderate income borrowers.
The loan makes it easier for firefighters to purchase a home by requiring lower minimum down payments. They also make the process less stringent for people with lower credit scores. To obtain the loan, you must have a score of at least 580. Those who fall just short of this requirement may still be able to get a loan with a 10% down payment.
In 2019, FHA loans allow buyers to borrow as much as 96.5% of the value of their purchase property. That requires the buyer to make just a 3.5% down payment.
This program also has a refinancing aspect that works extremely effectively if you already have a current loan insured through the FHA. The streamline financing loan helps firefighters reduce their interest rate and monthly payments.
There are also many state programs specifically tailored for firefighters. In the Lone Star State, the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation provides home loans for firefighters throughout the state. It also helps with down payments.
The program offers 30-year-fixed rate mortgage loans and requires down payments that are just between 3% and 5% of the total mortgage. The loan also does not require that firefighters be first-time home buyers. Down payment grants are also just that — grants that don’t need to be repaid.
If a firefighter is a first-time home buyer, he or she can qualify for a Mortgage Credit Certificate or MCC. An MCC allows for a special tax credit to help reduce federal income taxes.
In California, there are several loan programs specifically for firefighters. The Everyday Hero Housing Assistance Fund helps firefighters with their closing costs. The program — which also helps police officers, teachers, and emergency medical personnel — does not require these costs to be repaid.
The state’s CalHero Mortgage and Advantage programs are designed to help firefighters and other first-responders and civil servants. They help firefighters refinance their home and also helps them purchase their own properties.
The programs give below-market rates for its mortgages and up to 2% in grants for down payments. Eligible firefighters also include those working for Tribal Governments. What makes this program specifically beneficial for firefighters is that it is not just for those who are still employed in the profession. It’s also for former firefighters and it’s not limited to first-time homebuyers.
What More Firefighters Need to Know
As you can see, there are many programs to help get firefighters into their homes. They are a great help for first-responders with limited budgets. But weaving through the fine print and finding a program that is best for you isn’t always easy. That’s why it’s essential to work with a Clever Partner Agent to find out more about these programs and many others that may be available for you.