When Tiffany Barrett, a registered nurse with two young sons, was searching for a home to purchase, she struggled to find a property she could afford.

A native of Jamaica, Barrett was living with her mother at the time and despite saving for two to three years, was having a difficult time finding a home in her price range in Connecticut’s Hartford area.

It wasn’t until Larry King, a mortgage loan originator at American Eagle Financial Credit Union, told her that she was eligible for FHLBank Boston’s Housing Our Workforce program that she got the unexpected boost she needed.

“I was very excited about the program, and it really was a game changer because it helped me get an affordable mortgage so I could purchase a nice home in a nice neighborhood for me and my kids,” she said.

Housing Our Workforce (HOW) is a down-payment assistance program that FHLBank Boston has offered since 2019. Through the program, FHLBank Boston partners with member financial institutions like American Eagle Financial Credit Union to provide matching down-payment grants to homebuyers earning more than 80% and up to 120% of the area median income.

Barrett, who was searching for a single-family home in Bloomfield, West Hartford, and Windsor, worked with King at American Eagle to obtain financing, and in 2022 received a two-to-one match of her $10,000 down payment through HOW. First approved to participate in the HOW program in 2019, American Eagle has provided 12 HOW grants to eligible borrowers like Barrett.

By leveraging HOW, Barrett was able to increase her down payment and reduce her overall mortgage loan amount and her monthly mortgage payment. She successfully purchased a three-bedroom Colonial in Bloomfield, a suburb outside of Hartford about 15 minutes from her job at a local hospital, in June 2022. The extra savings gave Barrett the flexibility to purchase furnishings and make some home improvements.

While rising mortgage interest rates have helped to ease the frenzied housing market in more recent months, homebuyers are still encountering multiple bid situations and limited housing inventory in many areas.

“The one factor that I continue to see from my perspective as mortgage loan originator is that it’s still very competitive for desirable properties. There are still bidding wars, although they may be less escalated right now, but it is still very competitive with a limited inventory of desirable homes,” said King.

King runs a series of homebuyer educational seminars for American Eagle members throughout the year. One of the biggest challenges to homeownership, besides repairing or establishing good credit, is not being able to save sufficient funds to cover the down-payment and closing costs associated with a home purchase, explained King.

American Eagle has been able to combine funding from either HOW or Equity Builder Program (EBP), another FHLBank Boston homeownership assistance program that assists lower-income borrowers, along with other available resources, to help their members.

“HOW and EBP have been a tremendous resource to help offset the obstacle of not having the funds to cover the down-payment and closing costs,” he said.

King pointed to another couple with three children who was living in an urban area and wanted a home in a suburban community with a better school system. With the support of a HOW matching grant, the couple was able to reduce their mortgage loan from $303,000 to $283,000, and cut their private mortgage insurance, resulting in total monthly savings of about $142.

“This is real money that has helped them achieve their goal of homeownership,” he said.

The application periods for HOW and EBP are scheduled to open in early 2023. To learn more about FHLBank Boston’s homeownership assistance programs and other housing and community investment programs, visit the FHLBank Boston website.“The one factor that I continue to see from my perspective as mortgage loan originator is that it’s still very competitive for desirable properties. There are still bidding wars, although they may be less escalated right now, but it is still very competitive with a limited inventory of desirable homes,” said King.
 

Source: FHLBank Boston