Adding Style to your Patio Deck

A few cost-effective add-ons can give a modest deck an edge and deliver a handsome payback should you sell your house. 

Hidden fasteners for decking
For years now, deck screws have been the fastener of choice. (Nails, prone to popping out over time, are old news.) Deck screws come in a useful range of colors, won’t corrode, and hold exceptionally well. However, even when installed carefully, they cover the deck with rows of little pockmarks—tiny depressions that may have splintered edges and trap dirt.

Enter the hidden fastener. This clever innovation holds deck planks down while leaving the surface looking sleek and minimalist. There are scores of hidden fasteners on the market, each of a slightly different design. One category fastens with a screw to the framing and grips the side of each plank with barbs. Another fits into a groove in the side of the plank (some composite planks come with this groove) before being fastened to the joist. Yet another type fastens from underneath the deck, firmly snugging the decking onto the joists.

Hidden fasteners are labor intensive to install, which adds a premium of about $4 per square foot compared with the cost of an installation using deck screws. However, many deck owners find the investment worthwhile, especially if they have selected composite, vinyl, or premium wood decking and want to show off these materials to best advantage.

Adding style with planters
Planters give a deck character. The various shapes and sizes of planters add texture and color. Built-in versions, often made of the same material as the decking, can be positioned to separate seating areas from cooking areas. When planted with tall plants, such as ornamental grasses, they can act as living privacy screens.

Wood planters typically are lined with galvanized sheet metal, plastic containers, or are built to conceal standard pots that are easily removed for cleaning or planting. Planters made of pressure-treated wood sometimes forego the liner altogether.

With all built-ins, some means of drainage is necessary, which may mean you’ll have to bore holes in the bottom of the container. Because excess water will drain from the bottom of your planter, you’ll need to be mindful of where you position the planter. If you hire a pro to custom build your deck planters, assume a cost of $150 to $250 labor and materials for each lineal foot of a 2-foot deep and 2-foot high built-in planter.

Built-ins aren't your only option. Home centers offer a wide variety of planters available at prices from $10 to $200. Ceramic or cement pots can be a decorative feature, running $50 and up for a 2-foot tall container. Hanging planters (about $25 each) are a great addition to a pergola or trellis. Planters that attach to the railing ($70 for a 40-inch-long terracotta planter with metal holder) all but disappear when filled with plants.

Cable railings
Railings are typically required on any deck when the decking surface is more than 2 feet above ground. Railings are the most visible part of the deck from ground level and offer a great opportunity to echo the colors and architectural details of your house. However, if you are lucky enough to a have a scenic vista (or just an awfully nice yard) you won’t want the railing in the way.

One solution is a cable railing--thin stainless steel cables strung tautly between wood or metal posts. This alternative looks great, preserves the view and, at a cost of about $70 per lineal foot for a pro installation, is about $1,200 more expensive than a standard wood railing for a 16x20-foot deck. To further spare the budget, consider using cable only where the view is important and use wood elsewhere. Or, if you are handy, do it yourself for a materials cost of about $25 a lineal foot.

Taming the sun with shade sails
Overhead structures like wood pergolas and trellises help shield a deck from the sun, adding a pleasantly dappled shade pattern. However, they can be costly to install and challenging to maintain over the years.

Shade sails are a cool, eye-catching alternative. Made of UV-resistant polyethylene knit fabric, sails are triangular, square, and rectangular, and come in a variety of colors. They produce a muted, diffuse light, cutting the glare of full sunlight while still permitting light into windows adjacent to the deck. Shade is not all the sails offer. Many homeowners consider shade sails a form of aerial sculpture and delight in watching them rise and fall gently in the evening breeze.

Shade sails for a 16 x 20-foot deck would cost about $5,500 when professionally installed. (Expect to pay at least 30% more for a custom-built pergola of comparable size.) If you have a smaller installation in mind, you can buy a 12-foot triangular shade at your home center for as little as $200. However, bear in mind that a sail can exert a mighty force on a windy day and must be attached to the framing of the house or to steel or wooden poles set in concrete. A professional installation is recommended.

Source: HouseLogic :Smart Upgrades for Decks By: Dave Toht
Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

The Rise of Home Prices in the San Antonio Region

Both the median and average prices in San Antonio for single family residential homes continued to rise in April with six percent and five percent gains respectively, according to th eMultiple Listing Service report by the San Antonio Board of REALTORS®

The number of sales for the month was up 21% from last year with 1,998 homes sold and a reported 2,149 sales still pending. “With mortgage rates and home prices remaining low, buyers can easily find something within their means without having to compromise,” said Steven Gragg, 2013 SABOR Chairman of the Board. “The rise in home sales each month shows the confidence consumers have in their buying power.”
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, many metropolitan areas across the nation are
experiencing a seller’s market, which is a market defined by a larger demand than supply.Metropolitan area median home prices continued to rise in the first quarter, with the national gains showing the best year-over-year performance in over seven years.
San Antonio’s housing inventory holds steady at 5.2 months where it has hovered since February.Homes sold in the price range under $200,000 accounted for 62.8% of total homes sold and those between $200,000 and $500,000 accounted for 33.8%. Homes priced at $500,000 and more made up 3.5% of the total sales for April. Homes spent 84 days on market with 96.8% being sold for list price.
“San Antonio was recently ranked by Forbes as the number 12 city in the country for jobs and job creation, citing its 18.4 percent growth in jobs since 2001. This steady growth along with the city’s affordability and diverse culture makes San Antonio a unique and desirable place to call home,” said Angela Shields, SABOR President and CEO.

Source:San Antonio Board of Realtors

Update on the National Flood Insurance Program

Changes are coming to the critically important National Flood Insurance Program that could impact real estate transactions and property owners across the country. That’s according to experts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which manages the government’s flood insurance program, who spoke to REALTORS® at the Flood Insurance 101 session during the REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.

Kristin Robinson, senior advisor, summarized last year’s Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which reauthorized the critically important NFIP through 2017 so property owners would have access flood to insurance.

The National Association of REALTORS® strongly supported the legislation and believes the government’s insurance program saves taxpayers property and money because it increases the number of self-insured properties and reduces the cost of post-flood disaster governmental assistance.
The NFIP is responsible for writing and renewing flood insurance policies for more than 5.6 million home and business owners in more than 21,000 communities nationwide where flood insurance is required for a mortgage.

Before Congress passed the legislation, the program operated under short-term extensions. In the past five years, there were 18 extensions and several lapses in program coverage, delaying or cancelling thousands of real estate transactions daily according to NAR’s own research, wreaking havoc on real estate markets. Robinson said the NFIP is $24 billion in debt following several disastrous storms in recent years since the costs and consequences of flooding continue to increase. “For decades the program has made flood insurance available at subsidized rates that did not reflect the true risk of flooding; artificially low rates and discounts are no longer sustainable,” she said.

Andy Neal, actuary, addressed the gradual phase-out of subsidized rates, which was included in last year’s legislation to preserve the flood insurance program and critically important property insurance coverage for the nation’s homeowners. Neal said rate subsidies are being phased out over the next several years to help increase the NFIP’s soundness and financial stability.

The majority of policyholders, more than 80 percent, are not subsidized and won’t be impacted by subsidized rate changes since they are already paying full actuarial rates, he said. However, these owners could see routine annual rate increases.

“Only about 20 percent of NFIP policies receive subsidies, mostly older structures built before the community’s first flood insurance rate map was issued, which are known as pre-FIRM properties. Some of these policyholders will be impacted by the gradual phase-out of subsidized rates; an even smaller number will see immediate changes to their insurance policy rates,” said Neal.

Rate changes are likely to affect owners of subsidized pre-FIRM non-primary residences, business properties, and properties that have experienced severe repetitive flood losses. Owners of some pre-FIRM condos and multi-family units will also see their rates gradually increase. Owners of pre-FIRM primary residences will retain their subsidies unless the policy lapses; it suffers a severe, repeated flood loss; or it’s sold to a new owner, which is retroactive to July 6, 2012, when the legislation was enacted. Some grandfathered principal residences will also lose their subsidies over a several year period, but not until the communities’ flood map is revised.

Neal recommended that home and property owners talk to their insurance agent to determine if their property is currently being subsidized. He said flood insurance rates vary based on a property’s location, elevation and flood risk and can be as low as a few hundred dollars up to $10,000 or more if the property is well below flood level and had severe repeated flood losses.

While higher rates may place a greater burden on families, there are investments homeowners can make to either reduce or better access their flood risk so they can continue to protect their families and possessions from damaging floods. According to Neal, homeowners can lower their risk by elevating their property and potentially reduce their flood insurance rates by having an elevation certificate completed to determine the property’s elevation relative to the base flood elevation. Elevation certificates can cost several hundred dollars to complete but could potentially lower homeowners’ flood insurance premiums.

Some homeowners with flood insurance policies have already received quotes for higher rates, which may be caused by several other factors such as improvements to mapping. As FEMA improves its mapping technology and draws more accurate flood maps, some homes may now be located in a flood zone, or a higher risk zone, where flood insurance is more expensive. Also, some insurance agents may adjust rates to correct previous mistakes made about the home’s features when they are re-evaluating an insurance policy at renewal.

Eco-Friendly Ways to Handle Weeds

If there is one thing gardeners everywhere hate, it’s weeds. However, many times the solution to getting rid of weeds can actually be more of a problem. In fact, it can be downright dangerous because there are growing health concerns about one of the chief ingredients, glyphosate, used to kill weeds. When battling weeds where you live, you can find safer solutions. Not only are the alternatives healthier, they are much easier on your wallet.

In my own garden, I make my daily newspaper do the dirty work. It’s easy and effective. Simply lay out five or six stacked sheets of newspaper in the area where you don’t want weeds. Then, give them a good soak with the hose so they don’t fly away. Once the newspaper is in place, it won’t let the sunshine through and that means the weeds can’t grow. Cover the soaked papers with mulch or grass clippings if you like. Eventually, earthworms will break down the newspaper and the end result will be healthier soil.

Another effective option when it comes to blocking out sunlight is a roll of landscape fabric. A few years ago, finding eco-friendly landscape fabric was a nearly impossible task. Now, you can find landscape fabric made of recycled paper that gets the job done without any plastic or any unwanted chemicals. This recycled fabric can be found at all the major home improvement stores or online.

I also use white vinegar on pesky weeds that sprout in the cracks of my sidewalk and driveway. Be careful though because vinegar can kill most anything you spray it on. For best results spray the weeds during the hottest part of the day. Hot water is also effective when it comes to killing weeds in those same areas.

This summer, don’t poison your lawn and garden. Instead, Get rid of those unwanted weeds in a much safer way.

Source: Terri Bennett, national speaker, eco-expert, and author of “Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living” available at

Time for Repairs - Tips for Choosing a Contractor

When you are ready to have some home repairs done, you can easily call on friends for their recommendations or go to an internet listing site that gives out recommendations from past users, but your decision shouldn't stop there. Here's a list of questions you should ask any contractor before you have nay work done on your home.

1. Ask to see proof of a license, certification, or associations they belong to? Then check state boards of licensing to confirm they are current.

2. Is the contractor bonded? In case damage is done to the property or someone gets hurt while repairs are being done, you need to know how this situation will be handled.

3. Ask for recommendations? Talk to the people who had the work done and ask questions such as: Was the work done on time? Was the work completed as required? Did the estimate run over the original cost?

4. What are their specialties — kitchens, bathrooms, or additions? Are there jobs they don’t like to tackle? If they don't have prior experience in doing a job, you may not want your home improvement project to be their test case.
5. Will they secure permits? Very important as buyers will want to see this if you ever sell to confirm that work was done according to current codes.

6. How much must be paid up front for work? Be very leary of someone who wants it all upfront, as you will have no guarantees the work will be done to your satisfaction.
7. Do they have a regular team of subs, or assemble different members? You need to know who is exactly doing the work. Is it the contractor or someone new to doing the work.

8. How will conflicts be resolved — will a resolution clause be in the contract? Get it in writing before any work is started.

9. If you are using a general contractor who has a team of workers doing the job, find out how often they will show up at the job site to check progress. Someone needs to follow up to confirm work is being done to code.

10. How can they be reached to answer questions — e-mail, phone, text?

11. Will the contractor provide a lien release when work is done? You don't want to find out later when you are trying to sell, that a lien was not removed after payment was complete and you have to reach the contractor. That is why #10 is important.This are good starter points, but don't overlook your instincts if you don't feel like the person is being truthful in their answers. Move on to someone you can trust to handle this valuable investment -- your home.

Repair, Replace, Enjoy! Time for Spring Home Improvements:

Besides cleaning closets and planting flowers and cool-weather vegetables, spring should involve scrutinizing the condition of a house following the rough winter. Repairs and replacements won’t just help you enjoy your property more; it will also keep energy costs down as hot weather rolls in.While most home owners need to prioritize costs, these 10 improvements are at the top of many contractors’ lists. Some of them are even more affordable than ever before, thanks to rebates from local communities, utility companies, and the federal government.
1. Replace windows
If your home felt drafty this past winter and you have single-pane windows, there’s a good chance those were one of the culprits. But replacing them all can be costly — $400 to $500 per window, plus $100 to $150 for installation, according to home improvement expert Tom Kraeutler of The Money Pit. Whether that’s the place to spend dollars should depend on how long you plan to stay put or what houses listed in their neighborhood offer if you’re planning on selling. “If you’re the last ones with old, rotting-wood windows, that negative may affect buyer attention,” Kraeutler says. This year’s “Cost vs. Value” report from Remodeling magazine pegs the payback for vinyl windows at 71.2% and for wood windows at a similar 73.3%. Gradually replacing windows in any room that is currently being remodeled is a great way to start and a bit less cost prohibitive than doing them all at once.
2. Install a new heating system and change filters
If a your furnace and boiler were on their last legs this past winter, it may be time to install a new one, or at least provide buyers with a credit toward new equipment if you plan to sell. Any choice should carry an EnergyStar label for best results. Existing systems still in good condition should have filters checked monthly and replaced when dark and clogged, a DIY project.

3. Clean air conditioning units
Before summer temperatures rise and HVAC pros are swamped, clean coils and change filters so your system doesn’t have to work as hard. You may also consider having drain lines cleaned, so moisture is eliminated.

4. Install more insulation
A home’s first line of defense to stop cold or hot air — depending on the season — should be the attic, according to most contractors. An energy audit can determine how much more is needed, if they already have some.
5. Switch out inefficient appliances
Sometimes appliances are no longer smart to repair. The determining factors for that should be their age and the cost of repair versus replacement. Here, too, top choices carry an EnergyStar label. If you need to replace most of their kitchen equipment and have a limited budget or plan to move, prioritize and first switch out the range, followed by the refrigerator, dishwasher, and microwave — in that order.

6. Repair or replace roofs, gutters, and downspouts
If you've seen moisture stains on your ceilings from recent rains, make sure you have your roof inspected for leaks before the damage gets worse. Have gutters and downspouts cleaned now so that water can flow through them. Gutter covers can be helpful but often don’t eliminate all debris.

7. Paint
Damage often shows up at this time of year, especially in climates where there’s been a lot of snow melting or winter rains, use the time to reassess your color choice for better curb appeal. Even changing the front door’s color can make a difference.

8. Prune trees
Cutting limbs that may have been damaged during winter and that might fall on a roof or allow squirrels to enter a house is smart, and it can be a cost savings later on. Called “thinning out,” this method gets excess foliage trimmed to allow more natural light into a house. A certified arborist will know the best ways to do this without removing too much of a canopy, which is useful for privacy and shade.

9. Mulch plantings
Along with fall, spring is a key mulch time. Mulch helps plants thrive by holding back weeds, retaining moisture so soil doesn’t dry out, and adding a tidy look, Glassman says. Use bark, shredded fir, leaves, straw, or grass clippings.

10. Replace light bulbs
When it comes to artificial light, most contractors recommend switching burned-out bulbs to LEDs, which last longer than incandescents, consume less energy, and have come down in price — now often just $10. Quality has improved, too, and they’re dimmable and available in colors.

Source:Realtor Magazine

Planning for Retirement - Tips for Guaranteeing Income

If there’s one thing Americans have learned from the financial crisis of 2008, it’s that they do not want to lose their money – again – especially for folks of a certain age, says financial advisor Philip Rousseaux, a member of the esteemed Million Dollar Round Table association’s exclusive Top of the Table forum for the world’s most successful financial services professionals.

“Losing nearly everything you’ve worked for throughout your entire adult life is right up there with being diagnosed with a major medical condition; it means the lifeblood of your future has been drained,” says Rousseaux, founder and president of Everest Wealth Management, Inc.

“Aggressive investment strategies that offer potentially huge rewards are fine for people younger than 40, but even they should have at least a portion of their retirement portfolio in investments that will provide a guaranteed income. The closer you get to your retirement age, or if you’re already retired, the more important it becomes to change the tools in your financial toolbox.”

Whether investors are decades or a just a few years away from retirement, or are currently retired – and whether or not they lost most, some or no money at all during the mass money meltdown – Rousseaux offers tips and tools to help you stay retired:

• Look for the hidden fees in your employer-sponsored 401(k). Last July 1, a new Department of Labor rule required all hidden fees attached to retirement plans and mutual funds be disclosed to employers and employees. By some estimates, up to 90 percent of fees attached to retirement plans are hidden! Get an accounting of all fees and if you can’t decipher the information, attend a financial workshop or talk to a financial adviser. It may be time to roll some your money into a less expensive plan. According to an AARP survey, 71 percent of those with a 401(k) had no idea they were paying fees for their retirement accounts.

• Explore fixed-rate indexed annuities: Investing all of your retirement savings in Wall Street exposes you to a lot of risk. That may be acceptable when you’re in the prime of your career, but it’s important to find alternatives that provide for growth while protecting savings. “Fixed-rate indexed annuities, where you loan an insurance company money and it guarantees you payments over a specified length of time, allows you to forecast the income you’ll generate,” Rousseaux says. “While these annuities will have a ceiling on interest rates, they’ll also have a floor. Your principal is safe and you can ride an up market without the risk.”

• Turn your IRA or 401k into a joint account. For many people this may sound like a new concept, but this is something Everest Wealth Management has been using a planning tool for the last decade. While it’s true the IRA, which stands for Individual Retirement Account, is something only one person can own, many alternative investments such as a fixed annuity offer benefits such as guaranteed lifetime income. Within these plans the owners have the option to guarantee income on both lives, thus creating a joint income for both the husband and wife.

• How much you have isn’t as important as you think. For years planners have touted finding your magical number so that you can afford retirement. This is simply not an accurate measurement and isn’t what matters, according to Rousseaux. “With interest rates at 60-year lows and people living longer due to health care advances, the priority in planning is how much income can you generate and will that income last for your lifetime.” The income your investments can generate  is the key to successful retirement planning in the second phase, which Rousseaux calls the distribution phase.

Source: Philip Rousseaux,the founder and president of Everest Wealth Management and Everest Investment Advisors money management firm.

Notes from the Mortgage Professor - Is Paying off your Loan a Sound Investment?

Don’t let misconceptions prevent you from paying down your mortgage balance. In today’s market, it is the best investment most borrowers can make.

One of the vexing features of the post-crisis financial system is the dearth of riskless investments paying a decent return. The rates on federal government securities and insured CDs are not much greater than zero. Yet every homeowner with a mortgage has the opportunity to earn a return equal to the interest rate on the mortgage, with no risk, simply by making extra payments.

The only downside to using mortgage repayment as an investment is that it has no liquidity — once you make the payment, you can’t take it back if you have an unexpected need for funds. But most homeowners with mortgages who place their savings in bank deposits or money market funds paying less than 1 percent, rather than earning 3 to 6 percent by paying down their mortgage, do it for reasons other than a need for liquidity. The main reason is confusion about one or another feature of loan repayment.

Some borrowers have trouble viewing mortgage repayment as equivalent to buying a bond or a CD. Yet in both cases, you pay out money now and receive a stream of income in the future based on the contracted interest rate. The only difference is that the income received from a mortgage repayment is cancellation of interest that you would have had to pay otherwise. The difference between receiving $1,000 of interest, and eliminating the payment of $1,000 of interest, is one of form but not of substance.

Those with a mortgage can actually earn a little more than the interest rate on their mortgage by taking advantage of the 10- to 15-day payment grace period that is found in all mortgage contracts. By adding the extra payment to the scheduled payment, the borrower will save interest for the entire month, even though they do not provide the funds until 10 or 15 days into the month. (Note: If borrowers make a separate payment after the grace period, their loan balance may not be reduced until the following month, which would reduce their return on investment.)

Some borrowers who itemize their tax deductions don’t want to repay their mortgage because it entails the loss of a deduction. But the loss is exactly the same as that on a taxable investment. For example, a borrower in the 33 percent tax bracket who repays a 3 percent mortgage earns 2 percent after tax. If instead the borrower purchased a CD paying 1 percent, the after-tax return is 0.5 percent. If the before-tax rate on the repaid mortgage is above the before-tax rate on the alternative investment, the same will be the case after taxes.

Some borrowers believe that they missed the boat on loan repayment because they didn’t do it in the early years of their mortgage when the regular payment went largely to interest, rather than later, when most of it goes to principal. But the rate of return on mortgage investment is not affected by where the mortgage is in its life cycle. While the allocation of scheduled payments between principal and interest changes over the life of the mortgage, extra payments go entirely to principal, no matter what stage of its life cycle the mortgage is in.

Other borrowers are immobilized by plans to sell the home, as if somehow this would prevent their obtaining the expected benefit from making extra payments. But it wouldn’t. In fact, the benefit would become glaringly evident in the smaller loan balance they have to pay off out of the sale proceeds. A similar point applies to those planning to retire with reduced income. If and when they need a reverse mortgage in the future, they will have to pay off their existing mortgage in the process, and the lower the balance, the more they will be able to draw on the reverse mortgage.

I have also heard the concern that the lender won’t credit a borrower’s account until the end of the term. This is not true; the account is credited immediately or even a few days early. A variant is that the lender will use the extra payments for some purpose other than reducing the loan balance. The only substance to this concern is that the lender will indeed apply extra payments to any unpaid obligations, of which the most likely is an underfunded tax/insurance escrow account. Aside from that, the only thing the lender can do with extra payments, other than credit them to the loan balance, is to steal them, which they never do.

With one exception, borrowers making extra payments need not provide special instructions as to how the payments should be applied. The exception applies when the extra payment is an exact multiple of the scheduled payment — the payment the borrower is obliged to make each month. If the scheduled payment is $600 and the borrower sends in a check for $1200, the lender does not know whether the borrower wants to apply the extra $600 to principal, or is paying for two months. To avoid this problem, do not make extra payments an exact multiple of the scheduled payment.

Source: Jack Guttentag, professor emeritus of finance at the Wharton School of the University of  Pennsylvania.

Debunking Down Payment Assistance Program Myths

Today’s homebuyers are doing significant online research before beginning their home buying search, yet there are still many misconceptions about home financing and down payment assistance programs. Home prices, along with down payments, are increasing, and assistance programs can help make buying a home as affordable as possible. Are these common myths keeping you from investigating homebuyer assistance options?

Myth #1: Down payment assistance programs are only for first-time homebuyers.
First-time homebuyers are defined as someone who has not owned a home in three years. And, not all programs specify that you must be a first-time homebuyer. It’s important to know that assistance programs are for homebuyers, not investors. Most housing agencies will require that the home is occupied as a primary residence in order to qualify.

In addition, homebuyers purchasing a home in a designated target area (typically for revitalization efforts)  may receive special benefits such as higher assistance amounts, more lenient income requirements and the first-time homebuyer requirement may be waived. Veterans are often eligible for a first-time homebuyer waiver, too!

Myth #2: Assistance programs are no longer funded.
There are many public and private-funded programs available. In fact, there are hundreds of millions of dollars in down payment assistance, tax credits, affordable fixed-rate mortgages and rehab loans available throughout the country.

Each program has a different funding schedule. Some programs are government-funded and are provided through municipal or quasi-government agencies or non-profits. Others are privately funded, and some are even sponsored by employers. Every state has a collection of programs at the state-level, and hundreds of markets around the country offer local assistance as well.

Myth #3: It’s difficult to qualify for homebuyer programs.
There are many options and opportunities. The key is doing research early in the home buying process as well as reviewing the application criteria. To qualify for an assistance program, the homebuyer and the property will have to meet certain criteria, which vary by program.

Standard criteria include property location, type of home, sales price limits, household income thresholds, and homebuyer education certifications. There are often additional benefits, or even entirely separate programs, for educators, protectors, health care workers, veterans of the armed forces, and households with disabled members.

Down Payment Resource gives homebuyers the opportunity to answer a few simple questions to determine if they may meet the basic qualifications for a program. Homebuyers must also demonstrate that they are financially responsible. Assistance programs  have  credit score thresholds and cash reserve requirements. Most programs will require a little money down from the homebuyer, as well as homebuyer education, especially for first-time homebuyers, to ensure the long-term homeownership success of each new buyer.

Myth #4: Using a down payment assistance program makes home financing more difficult.
Homebuyer program administrators often train “participating lenders.” These are lenders who are qualified to write the loans associated with the programs and understand how to incorporate this special financing into the home loan without complicating or prolonging the real estate transaction. This is why it’s important for homebuyers to seek information about available programs prior to touring homes or even getting prequalified. A little homework upfront ensures a smooth, successful transaction down the road.
You can begin by visiting your state’s Housing Finance Agency website to discover available programs. You can also use Down Payment Resource to access the participating lenders for specific programs.
Down payment assistance can help boost homebuyers’ purchasing power, help buyers retain a solid cash reserve for home improvements and other moving costs, and revitalize our communities with more homeowners.
Source: Downpayment Resource