More Assistance for Twin Cities Home Buyers

It was less than two weeks ago I was telling you about some recently approved, enacted, or improved home buyer programs within Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and St. Louis Park. Now I have even more to tell you about.

First, the Ramsey County Housing and Redevelopment Authority has approved the acceptance of a $1.4 million federal grant to get buyers into suburban foreclosed properties in four target areas of Maplewood and Little Canada. The money in the Opening Doors program is to be used to buy property, demolish or fix up vacant buildings and provide financial assistance to qualified first-time homebuyers. Three parts of the program include:
  • $100,000 for deferred loans for eligible buyers who purchase a property in one of the target areas. Eligible buyers will have incomes between 80 percent and 120 percent of area median income.
  • $350,000 in deferred loan financing for buyers of homes that need to be fixed up before moving in.
  • $807,000 to buy, fix and sell or rent five properties in the target areas. Once the homes are sold, the money would be used to buy, fix and sell or rent another property. The county would contract with for-profit and nonprofit developers.
The county applied for the grant, which comes from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The program, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is a nearly $4 billion initiative, approved last year as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act. The Opening Doors Program isn't in effect yet because the money hasn't officially been put in the county's coffers.

Second, the Dakota County Community Development Agency has launched the Silver Lining Loan Program to help qualified buyers purchase foreclosed properties in specific areas of the county where houses stand vacant. The Silver Lining loans, funded by the U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development's Neighborhood Stabilization Program, has a number of specific requirements, some harder to meet than others. But if you meet the requirements, buyers may qualify for a $15,000 zero-interest loan.
Potential buyers must qualify for traditional fixed-rate mortgages but also fall below income limits. They must attend the CDA's home ownership classes. The house, duplex, townhouse or condominium must be in a targeted area of the county. And the bank-owned properties must be in good condition, have all appliances and be selling for no more than 85 percent of the appraised value.
The CDA has processed three loan reservations so far; the goal is to eventually help 30 to 35 home buyers, so if this is something that interests you it's time to get hopping.

While looking this program up, I found the Give Yourself Credit program intended to help out home buyers, also in Dakota County.

Give Yourself Credit! provides homebuyers with a Mortgage Credit Certificate which is a federal income tax credit (not a deduction) equal to 20% of the annual interest paid on a mortgage loan. The credit reduces the amount of federal income tax a homebuyer is required to pay which helps free up income to qualify for a mortgage loan.

What's the greatest part of these programs? They can be used in conjunction with the $8,000 federal tax credit. Are you seriously thinking about buying a home yet? I am.

Finally, a new website launched by both St. Paul and Minneapolis allows potential home buyers to click on any of the 80-plus neighborhoods in the either city and learn about every financial incentive available. Every. Single. One. That means from the federal level to neighborhood level.

What's more, buyers can use the site to easily gauge the "walkscore'' for any house. The walkscore measures the home's proximity to nearby coffeehouses, parks, schools and other amenities. In the Twin Cities, that is a very hand feature to have. Buyers can check out their intended neighborhoods through embedded videos, related links, and testimonials from neighbors. The site can be found at

That's it for now. Don't worry, at this rate, I'll be back within a few weeks to tell you about even more home buyer programs. Stay tuned!

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