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Thursday, November 30, 2023
Nov. 30, 2023

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Clark County to help homebuyers with down payment program

First-time buyers can apply for loan to make down payment

By , Columbian staff reporter

On Tuesday, the Clark County Council approved an agreement with the Washington State Housing Finance Commission to establish the area’s first homebuyer down payment program.

In August 2022, the council approved $2 million to be used toward an assistance program that provides more opportunities of homeownership for moderate to low income people.

The program was at the request of County Treasurer Alishia Topper, who has been working on the program for two years.

“The biggest opportunity for folks getting a home is having the funding saved in order to put down a down payment. But for many low-income households… you just don’t have an ability with cost of living to save up enough money because you are taking care of everyday expenses,” said Topper.

After being appointed to the state’s Housing Finance Commission, Topper learned about Washington’s down payment assistance program. She began meeting with the NAACP and Clark County real estate agents to learn more about how this type of program could be implemented locally.

Vancouver’s home prices are rising at the eighth fastest rate in the state. According to the council’s estimates, Clark County’s median house price is $600,000.

“This program will help remove that barrier and the burden of saving in order to buy a home.”

How it works

The down payment assistance program is a second mortgage loan system that combines with the Home Advantage or Opportunity first mortgage loan programs offered by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.

The program allows qualifying borrowers to purchase a home at or below $600,000. The assistance program loans $60,000, while the county provides $45,000 and the commission provides $15,000.

The loan is at a 2 percent simple interest, and buyers will have to repay the county at the time of sale, transfer, refinance, or when the borrower no longer occupies the primary residence or at 30 years.

Who qualifies

To qualify for the program, according to the county’s estimates, a person’s household income must be under $95,850 — 90 percent of the median income for a family of four in Clark County as of January.

Qualifiers must also have not owned a home in the past three years and have a credit score of at least 620.

To request assistance, community members can fill out the interest form. A Washington State Housing Finance Commission staff member will connect with residents and walk them through how to get started.

Residents who enroll in the program must also complete pre-purchase housing counseling and attend post-purchase housing counseling.

For more information on the down payment assistance, visit the county’s website at clark.wa.gov/treasurer/homebuyer-downpayment-assistance.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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