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Nonprofit organization can help homebuyers who meet certain requirements

July 28, 2013|By ARNOLD S. PLATOU | arnoldp@herald-mail.com

Want to buy a house?

The Hagerstown Home Store, a nonprofit organization, can help — if you’re a novice at buying a home and you meet income limits, plus attend both a first-time homebuyer workshop and meet with a housing counselor.

If you do and you’re willing to buy inside Hagerstown city limits, you can qualify for as much as $11,000 in Maryland governmental aid. If you would rather live outside the city, you can get as much as $5,000 in aid.

The money can be used for the down payment and closing cost assistance, said Barb Spielman, senior housing adviser with the Home Store.

“We stress that they have to have completed both the workshop and the counseling prior to making an offer” to buy a house, Spielman said.

The education is important, and it’s crucial that new homebuyers understand the money must be paid back eventually, she said. Repayment is required when the homeowner sells the house, transfers it or does a cash-out refinance, she said.

Although the prospective homeowner has to pay the state back eventually, the benefit is that the first-time buyer doesn’t have to include the repayment cost in his or her mortgage payments, she said.

So “if you’re going to be taking $11,000 from the state, your plan should be to be in that house for awhile — not just buying for a couple of years and then hoping you’re going to be able to sell it,” Spielman said.

“With the way the housing market is currently, housing prices are not rising that fast. So you’ve got to pay the Realtor’s commission, if you get a Realtor. There’s closing costs. There’s people who would say, ‘Would the seller help with some of my closing costs?’” Spielman said.

“I mean, the market would have to improve by leaps and bounds to pay all those costs and the $11,000 (to repay the state), too,” she said.

There is one exception to the rule about an aid recipient being a first-time home buyer, she said.

“If you own a house outside the city and want to sell it and move into the city — because the city is a designated area (for economic stimulus money) — you would be considered a first-time buyer as long as your property had been sold previously,” she said.

For more information on these programs, call the Hagerstown Home Store at 301-797-0900.

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