By Jesse Phillips
Jesse has lived in English Ave for 4 years. He got married and bought a house last year. He owns a business selling calendars at NeuYear.net.
Right now is a GREAT time to stop renting and buy a house! When you rent a home you give your hard earned money away to someone who can kick you out anytime and usually doesn’t take care of the place.
The benefits of buying are huge: 1) There is up to $80,000 available as down payment asisstance if you buy a house in Atlanta! 2) Interest rates are low, and home prices are low in our neighborhood, so right now, you can pay a mortgage for less than you pay in rent! A $50,000 loan over 30 years is only $350/month! 3) When you pay rent, your money disappears forever, when you pay a mortgage, you are building “equity” in your home, that means when you sell it someday, you will get a lot of your money back (sometimes more than your money back). 4) Interest rates are SUPER low, which means your monthly mortgage payment will be smaller (great time to get a loan in general).
There are some downsides to buying a house, like having to do maintenance yourself, paying property taxes (get a “homestead exemption” to reduce that), and needing to buy home owners insurance & mortgage insurance. But, overall, you’ll probably pay less monthly and you’ll get paid a lot more back if you sell it or hold on to it for a long time. And, if you buy a big enough house, you can invite more family to join you and help pay the mortgage.
A huge reason to buy a house is the down payment assistance programs. This is basically free money and solves the down payment problem that faces low income home buyers. There are lots of programs out there, here are the best ones:
Invest Atlanta (InvestAtlanta.com) 404-614-8280
- AAHOP, which offers up to $20K.
- Vine City/English Avenue Trust Fund, up to $10K,
- Home Atlanta 4.0 – up to 5% of loan.
Offers 20% of purchase price up to $45K, for homes ½ mile from beltline. Visit website for available homes
City of Atlanta NSP
Up to $20K
Atlanta Housing Authority
Up to $25K
The best thing about this is you can layer each of these programs. For example, you can get the $10K English Ave Trust Fund + $20K AAHOP + $25K AHA for a total of $55K in assistance. Some people have gotten up to $79K in down payment assistance. Note however, layering will not get you a free house. If you find a house for $70K and you qualify for $70K assistance, most lenders will not give you a loan smaller than $45K (Although Russell Elam said they will go as low as $30K). So in the case of the $70K loan, Russell would only allow $40K of assistance, leaving you with a $30K loan (which is only $152/month!!!).
This is essentially free money. And there’s A LOT of it! So now is a great time to stop renting and buy a home. Your first step is to call an Invest Atlanta approved lender and work on getting pre-qualified for a loan. Three of the best lenders are:
Russell Elam – 678.381.2258, Michele Hipps – 404.680.1400, Bonnie Stewart – 678.248.3685, Joann Smith – 404.587.0672
Your next step is to sign-up for the Invest Atlanta HomeBuyer Q&A Session. Go to InvestAtlanta.com/intown-living/getting-started-homeownership/. After that, you need to take a Home Buyer Education class. Check the InvestAtlanta website for approved classes.
If you’re struggling with bad credit, meet with Tawny Powell at CommittedToCommunities.org for FREE to get some advice. Maybe consider finding a co-signer for your loan. There usually are a few simple things you can do to get some bad marks off your record, it’s just a pain in the butt to deal with, but there are people ready and eager to help you! You can do it!
There are more steps to complete, but these will get you started. There are some great deals in English Avenue right now. Go to RedFin.com and search “English Avenue Atlanta” to find all the homes for sale in English Avenue. And if you find one that needs renovation, talk to Russel Elam about getting a 203K Renovation loan.