Great deal for first-time home buyers

Thursday, August 14, 2003

If you've never bought a home ... but would like to ... you need to go see a real estate agent or a banker as quickly as possible. Why's that? Because, starting Sept. 1 and ending a few days afterwards, first-time home buyers can receive up to $4,000 for the purchase of a home.

Sound like a tremendous deal? Well, it is. According to Randy Korgan, vice president at the McCook National Bank, the program offers what can be free money for those who qualify and fulfill the terms of the forgivable loan agreement.

The only catches are that (1) You have to qualify; and (2) You have a very tight time line in which to apply and be approved.

Offered through local banks, the money for the first-time homebuyer program comes through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka, which serves a four-state area. In the past year, 452 home buyers received the first time assistance, with the total amount distributed coming close of $1.7 million.

Unfortunately, not many from this area have applied or received assistance. But this area's new housing director, Sheila Hrnchir, is hoping that changes this September and in future application periods.

To qualify, first-time home buyers need to earn 80 percent or less of the area's median income. Currently, that amount is $44,320 for a a one-or-two person household, or $55,968 for a household with three or more members.

A second requirement is that monthly payments need to account for more than 15 percent of the individual, couple or family's take home pay.

Once the $4,000 is awarded to qualifying first-time home buyers, all that's required to pay it off is to live in the home for five years. For every year, the buyer occupies the home, the forgivable loan is reduced 20 percent, until -- at the end of five years -- the $4,000 loan is entirely forgiven.

What a deal! If you are a first-time homebuyer -- or know someone who would qualify -- please put them in touch with a realtor, a bank or Sheila Hrnchir, the area housing director, who can be reached at 345-5188. Sheila is an important part of the process, because she will provide Homebuyer Education for all who take part in the program.

Not much time remains until the application period begins on Sept. 1, so see a real estate agent or one of the participating banks as quickly as possible. The banks are Wells Fargo, First Central, TierOne, McCook National and Union Bank and Trust in McCook; Adams Bank and Trust in Indianola; First Central Bank and Medicine Creek Bank in Cambridge; and First Central Bank in Arapahoe.

Hurry. But, if you're not ready now, don't despair. Just be ready for the next application period, which will begin March 1, 2004.

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