INB’s Champaign Lender Rhonda Lash says one of the biggest obstacles for people, especially first-time home buyers, is saving for the down payment and closing costs. “The DPP (Downpayment Plus Program) grant helps immensely with this and allows them to begin their dream of being homeowners. The program means more people can purchase homes, which is great for our clients and our community.”
And because INB is a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago (FHLB), INB can offer the DPP program to borrowers. In 2021, the FHLB awarded $18.1 million in DPP grants to over 3,300 households.
Springfield-based INB Mortgage Lender Natalie Dodson sums DPP up like this: “DPP is a grant to help with closing costs and down payment, up to $10,000. The program is based on income limits and your household size.
To calculate eligibility, INB needs to know your income and the number of adults who will be living in your home. This information is part of any mortgage loan application, Natalie explains. Your household income can’t exceed 80 percent of the region’s median income which is adjusted for the household size. “Based on that, INB applies the grant to the mortgage.”
Training: A Little Work for Big Reward
Lender Bill Townsend, also working out of Springfield, notes the program doesn’t require a lot from the borrowers. “Most potential first-time buyers have heard something about grants, but really do not know much about the qualifying requirements. If they do qualify for the grant, I tell them how easy it is to get the money and that we do almost all of the work. The only real effort we need from the buyer is for him or her to complete the homebuyer education course and homebuyer counseling. Other than them completing the education requirements, we take care of the grant funds.”
Lender Jason LeMasters says that some buyers leave his office thinking the education courses will be an obstacle for them. “However, almost all of them have told me afterwards that they were happy that they had been required to take the class. The homebuyer education course can help make you a better homeowner and better at budgeting and forecasting expenses.
“The course will teach you about homeownership responsibilities that many new homeowners are unaware of, because they have had a landlord who would fix or take care of anything needed,” Jason continues. “I think that it is one of the most helpful resources that we can offer to our customers, and the best part, for the first time ever, there is an option for free counseling.”
Deena Smith, also a Springfield-based INB lender, says, “The process for obtaining the DPP grant funds is stress-free and the easiest $10,000 you could ever make!!
“We start the process with your initial application and purchase contract. We will submit the grant application for approval with your documents that you have already submitted for your loan. We will also give you a link to take an online, pre-purchase homebuyer counseling education class, Deena continues. “The process has never been easier than it is today.”
2023 Changes Mean More Money to Award
Working behind INB lenders is the INB mortgage operations team. Samantha Patrick, AVP, mortgage operations, says the 2023 DPP program offers more benefits than ever. “This year’s maximum grant increased from $6,000 to $10,000 (or the lesser of 20% of the first mortgage amount).”
Sam notes the down payment assistance often means lower Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratios for new homeowners. “A lower LTV puts the borrowers at an advantage they potentially would not have without the grant giving them more equity in their home at the time of purchase.”
While you don’t need to be a first-time homeowner to be eligible for DPP, refinances are not eligible for the grant.
Do You Qualify?
Lender Allison Bond sees great potential for the program in the Bloomington-Normal market, but notes she can’t help people if they don’t complete an application with INB. “Once the customer applies, we’ll complete the DPP application on their behalf,” explains Allison. “The FHL Bank Chicago will then work with us to review the application and eligibility.”
Allison takes applicants through the next steps: “Once we can confirm your grant reservation is in place, you complete the required pre-purchase education and counseling. After that, we handle the remaining steps, getting everything ready for the mortgage closing.”
Peoria/Galesburg’s Karen Cabrera has used the DPP grant with several customers. “It’s a great tool. I’ve used it to attract buyers and have shared the program with realtors so they can tell their home buyers about it. I’ve had buyers share the program with friends and family who usually point out how easy this is to use.”
To see if you qualify, talk to any INB mortgage lender.
NMLS numbers for the lenders referenced in this blog post:
- Allison Bond, NMLS # 1879998
- Karen Cabrera, NMLS # 742269
- Natalie Dodson, NMLS # 574151
- Lindsey Juris, NMLS # 1331799
- Rhonda Lash, NMLS # 1772943
- Jason LeMasters, NMLS # 1059653
- Deena Smith, NMLS # 662911
- Bill Townsend, NMLS # 815738