Hawaii First Time Home Mortgage Programs

by Cheri Brubaker

    With interest rates low and home prices continuing to rise, it is a great time to buy your first home in Hawaii. American Dream Realty reports a thriving housing market. With a statewide median price of $500,000 for single family homes and $320,000 for condominiums, it can be a difficult market for a first time buyer. Fortunately, there are a number of programs in place to assist those buying their first home.

    Hawaii Home Ownership Center (HHOC) offers programs to educate and assist home buyers. HHOC Mortgage is a non-profit affiliate of HHOC formed to assist low to moderate income families with financing their first home. Among the programs available is the Down Payment Assistance Loan (DPAL-3), a 3-percent down-payment loan program, is offered to first time home buyers (or those who have not owned residential property within the last three years) only. Household income can not exceed 80 percent of the area median income. A FICO score of 680 is needed, and home buyer education and counseling with the HHOC is required. For those who don't qualify for the DPAL-3, the DPAL-5 has higher income limits.

    The Bank of Hawaii offers first time home buyers free counseling. The bank's First Time Home Buyer's Loan Program features reduced down payment requirements and discounts on closing costs. The program's qualifying guidelines are flexible, and there are a variety of terms available. Eligible properties are listed on the Bank of Hawaii's approved list. The Bank of Hawaii is the state's largest bank and was named by Forbes Magazine as one of "America's Best Banks."

    The Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation has the Hula Mae Single Family Loan program available to first time buyers in Hawaii. Hula Mae offers first-time home buyers a 30-year mortgage with low interest rates and down-payment assistance of up to 3 percent of the sales price. There are income limits as well as purchase price limits that vary by location. Loans are offered through participating originating lenders.

    The State of Hawaii also offers grants, free money, to assist first time home buyers with down payment and closing costs. For example, The Department of Hawaii Home Lands Home Ownership Assistance Program plans to award thousands of dollars over the next five years to native Hawaiians purchasing their first home. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also offers grants and assistance to those meeting the specific criteria of the various programs. HUD does not offer assistance to individuals directly, instead working through local governments and nonprofits. The HUD website directs home buyers to resources to assist them.

    With such an array of programs to assist first time buyers and Hawaii's real estate appreciating and in short supply, now is a great time to explore the idea of home ownership. Real estate professionals, mortgage bankers, nonprofit organizations and government agencies are able to provide you with the information you need to make a sound financial decision regarding investing in home ownership.

    About the Author

    A writer, artist and teacher, Cheri Brubaker has been a regular contributor to "The Clayton Tribune," a weekly newspaper in Northeast Georgia, writing on topics ranging from education to real estate market conditions. She holds a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from Columbia College.

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