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Ameridream and Nehemiah Downpayment Assistance Programs In Jeapordy


The Ameridream and Nehemiah seller-funded downpayment assistance programs are in jeapordy. They may be eliminated this fall unless Congress approves the FHA Seller-Financed Downpayment Reform and Risk-Based Pricing Authorization Act of 2008 (H.R. 6694)

For more on this story, check out the post over at LoCo Real Estate Musings. Here's an excerpt:

The Department of Housing and Urban Development apparently would rather eliminate these programs entirely than regulate them.

…the bottom line is that thousands of potential homebuyers will not be able to purchase homes if the programs are discontinued.

If you're a future home buyer that may be interested in utilizing seller-funded downpayment assistance programs such as Nehemiah or Ameridream, take the time to check out the links and make your voice heard.

Further Reading

Groundswell – Fighting To Save Downpayment Assistance



3 Comments on "Ameridream and Nehemiah Downpayment Assistance Programs In Jeapordy"

  1. Thomas Paine on Sat, 23rd Aug 2008 12:31 pm 

    I’ve never seen the word “gift” placed in quotation marks as often as it is when discussing this subject.

    The real estate industry has always had a bad reputation when it comes to honesty and ethics (see historical annual Gallup Poll rankings on honesty and ethics in professions surveys).

    A program where buyers are told they are getting a gift and then have to pay for that gift in the form of a higher price and inflated mortgage balance is simply not honest.

    Now I often see how some argue that prices are raised when sellers pay for recurring and non-recurring closing costs and that those are built into the price of the home also; so what’s the difference? The difference is that there is no certification of a gift with those concessions. There is no representation to the home buyer that he/she will be given the closing cost assistance free and without charge. That’s not the same as the “gift” programs. They are certified to be free.

    Also, you see the “nonprofits” argue that the “appraisal comes in” so that makes it okay. What they don’t tell you is that appraisals are not exact by their very nature. Appraisals are opinions of market value defined as “estimates” in HUD handbooks.

    Existing anti-flipping regulations and more recently, a 2008 FHA Mortgagee Letter state that under certain circumstances, such as the quick resale of a home at an increased price, the underwriting of an FHA loan requires that a second appraisal be obtained to verify the property value. As long as the second appraisal is not more than 5% below the first appraisal, the first appraisal is acceptable. Effectively, HUD has declared that the permissible tolerance between two appraisals is 5%.

    The “gift” programs distort sales prices by the 3% down payment requirement plus the “gift” fee charged by the “charity.” Now you can see that the sales price inflation can live like a virus within the acceptable range between two appraisals. Like a computer virus, just because it can find a place to hide in the system, doesn’t make it legal.

    The problem is not with the appraisers. How can HUD discipline an appraiser for an “error” of less than 5% when HUD itself has committed to 5% as an acceptable tolerance? So when the “charities” send you after a red herring that “the appraisal comes in” so all is well – think twice. The problem is that there are two different prices on the home. The appraisal issue is a distraction designed to get you off the subject of price inflation.

    Let me suggest a mental exercise to see if you think making someone pay for their gift is honorable or ethical. Let’s say it’s your birthday party, and some character shows up that you have never met before. Strangely, this character has brought with him a $4,000 gift (big screen, vacation package, fill in the blank of what $4,000 gift you would like for your birthday) and makes a “big todoo” about it. Kind of odd since not even your parents or other family members, people who actually know you, gave such a gift. After all the fanfare, and the OMG thank you so muchs, the stranger leaves … and leaves you wondering who was that man who gave me so much and why would he?

    A little time goes by and one day, after work, you go home get the mail and are stunned to see that that nice man had charged that “gift” to your credit card. But it doesn’t end there, he also charged you a $750 fee for getting you the gift! Now what do you think of him? Now you know why he crashes every birthday party in town with his “gift.” Welcome to Nehemiah.

    I have to stop typing now because I ran out of quotation marks.

  2. Danilo Bogdanovic on Sat, 23rd Aug 2008 2:39 pm 

    Thomas – Thank you for reading and for the comment. Appreciate the points you brought up and shared.

    I see your points regarding HUD, appraisals, accepted tolerance, etc. But I don’t agree with you regarding your “honest” remark. (Whether it’s right or wrong is another thing)

    If the buyer knows that they are going to pay a fee for the “gift” and choose to do so on their own free will, then how is it not honest? Your example isn’t apples-for-apples because it assumes that the birthday boy/girl didn’t know about the “gift” nor the charge for it ahead of time.

    Yes, we as a collective Realtor whole are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to public perception. But some of us are not part of causing that problem and, in fact, are working on being a part of the solution.

  3. Thomas Paine on Wed, 27th Aug 2008 10:25 am 

    Remember Danilo, there is a gift certification in the loan file that contradicts this notion that the buyer is aware that the price was raised to pay for the downpayment. The buyer is stating that there is no repayment of the gift.

    It’s also contrary to public policy for the buyer to waive his/her protection against gift repayment. In other words, it’s not legal for them to waive their right to a free gift as it violates the National Housing Act.

    I know you don’t realize this because “everyone’s been doing it,” but remember:

    “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.” – Thomas Paine

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