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More on free money being offered by Maricopa County to buy a home

That’s right, Maricopa County is offering money to help you buy a home.

They are running out of money though. I sat down with the expert, Lisa the Lender from That Real Estate Show, to help answer your questions. She’s the expert and her company, Amerifirst Financial, is approved to do the program. She also gives us the low-down on changes to FHA; even more reason to get your butts in gear and take advantage of this grant money.

1. So Lisa the Lender, Maricopa County Home in 5 Advantage Program. Why is this so popular?

Free money!

It’s been years since there has been a grant program like this on “the lending street.” We used to see these programs quite frequently from 2000 to 2006, then the mortgage meltdown came along and all we heard was crickets on these types of down payment assistance programs.

The MHI5 rolled out in October 2012 and frankly shocked us all considering the funds do not have to be paid back. In the past, these programs has what is called a “recapture tax,” where you had to pay the funds back once you sold the home or you had a second lien on your home for the amount of the down payment assistance.

This program is popular because its non-repayable but more importantly, the timing on it could not have been better. We needed this grant program to help get the first-time homebuyers and boomerang buyers back in the game.

2. Tell us the details.

Here’s how it works. Five percent of the loan amount is given to a borrower to cover their down payment and a portion of their closing costs. Veterans receive 6 percent and, since they are already eligible for 100 percent financing, the 6 percent covers all of their closing costs and essentially they get into the home for nothing. The program requires a FICO score of 640, household income no higher than $88,000 and a max sales price in Maricopa County of $300,000.

The program just opened up in Yavapai and Coconino Counties last week so we are seeing a mad rush in those counties.

3. Do you have to pay the money back?

Nope, nada, zilch. That is what’s so incredible about it: It’s free, no catch, no gimmicks.

4. Anything I have to do?

You must get pre-qualified through a lender who is approved to facilitate the program. Amerifirst Financial was one of the first companies chose to participate in this program. We know what we are doing and we do it well.

5. Are they running out of money?

Yes they are. The program started with $32 million in Oct. 2012 and as of April 24, there was $2.5 million left.

We are all crossing our fingers that the county releases another allocation of funds. However, we won’t know if this is a possibility until the funds run out.

6. Where can I get more information?

Contact me through and I can email you with more specific information including a brochure on the program. You can also call me and I can give you all the details.

7. Can you also explain the changes to FHA?

I’m going to sound like a Debbie Downer here, but the changes are not positive.

I have been providing FHA loans to clients for almost 20 years and the recent change is something I have not seen before. Not only is the cost of FHA monthly mortgage insurance increasing, but as of June 1, it can never be removed from your mortgage unless you pay the loan off or refinance out of an FHA loan. This is BIG!

As it stands today, if you close a loan with FHA financing, you can have the mortgage insurance removed from your loan once you have paid it for five years and you have 22 percent equity built up in your home. We can thank the government for this upcoming change. FHA is broke and in order to stay around, it needs to get out of the red and build back up its reserves.

You can hear Diane Brennan and Lisa the Lender Saturdays at 3 p.m. on That Real Estate Show on News/Talk 92.3 KTAR.