Georgia ranks 9th in assistance for first-time homebuyers

by Mary Welch

If you work with first-time homebuyers, now might be a good time to brush up on the special programs available to help them afford a home. Georgia has 66 programs from 28 agencies that can assist first-time homeowners with a downpayment, according to the Down Payment Resource (DPR), which tracks these programs. Of those programs, 19 are unfunded; 47 are funded and of those, 71.2 percent have available funds. The state ranks ninth in these programs, but it’s well under the 357 in California, 276 in Florida and 167 in Texas.

Atlanta-based DPR works with 1,313 program administrators to track and update the country’s range of homeownership programs including down payment and closing cost programs, mortgage credit certificates and affordable first mortgages.

According to a report commissioned by DPR and Freddie Mac, there are about 21 million renters under the age of 40 in 31 of the largest U.S. cities. Of those, about 88 percent can afford to purchase a typical house in their city. The problem, according to Rob Chrane, CEO of DPR, is that many renters don’t believe that homeownership is an option even though 36 percent of 2017 mortgages were eligible for down payment help in 31 of the largest U.S. cities.

In other Atlanta real estate news:

Lawsuit filed on design and impact fees

A lawsuit was filed against Bryan County and its board of commissioners to stop new aesthetic design and impact fees. The county, which is part of the Savannah metropolitan statistical area, implemented two regulations that required commercial properties to conform to new design standards and pay new impact fees. The lawsuit charges that these changes would result in a significant increase in home prices which could put homeownership out of the reach of many. The issue of restrictive design is also a topic in the current Georgia General Assembly.

Atlanta Realtors Association honored for record year

The Atlanta Realtors Association received top honors during the 2019 Georgia Association of Realtors’ inaugural conference for their contributions to the Realtors Political Action Committee. After a record year of RPAC investments, ARA was recognized by GAR for reaching the highest level of RPAC activity this past year. ARA was recognized for highest dollar volume, largest percentage of membership participation and largest percentage of receipts over their goal. ARA also won the Largest Dollar Contribution by a Board, Institute, Society or Council, which includes all local associations.

NAHB releases 4th Quarter Buying Trends Report

The National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Trends Reports found that 13 percent of respondents plan to buy a home within the next 12 months; in 2017 that figure was 24 percent. Fifty-three percent of the prospective buyers were taking on a mortgage for the first time while in 2017, that figure was 60 percent. Other data from the report included the fact that only 18 percent of potential buyers wanted only a new home while 42 percent said they had no preference. Millennial buyers (22 percent) wanted a new home as opposed to Gen X-ers (17 percent) and Boomers (15 percent). An overwhelming majority (72 percent) said they expect the house search to get harder or stay the same, which is up from 65 percent a year ago. Only 19 percent said the search should should be easier (more on this increasing perception of the difficulty of homebuying here). Finally, affordability continues to be an issue for all age groups. Three-quarters of all potential home buyers noted they could afford fewer than half of the available homes, which is about the same as last year. Slightly less than 25 percent said they could afford the majority of the homes available.