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Program aims to open doors to home ownership

Nicole A. Hawley
Staff writer
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Posted 1/12/23

City officials are launching a new First Time Homebuyer Assistance Program in Rome.

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Program aims to open doors to home ownership


ROME — City officials are launching a new First Time Homebuyer Assistance Program in Rome — in partnership with the HomeOwnership Center — to help income-eligible residents achieve their dreams of home ownership.

The program will allow income eligible applicants access to financial assistance for the down payment and closing costs associated with the purchase of their first house.

Qualified applicants will be eligible to receive assistance of up to 50% of their lender-required down payment and up to 4% of their purchase price toward closing costs. Final grant award amounts will be determined upon approval.

The maximum grant award is $15,000. Applicants must contribute a minimum of $2,000 to the purchase of the home. The following costs count toward the applicant’s minimum contribution: earnest money deposit, professional home inspection, surveys and appraisals.

“I am very pleased to announce today a new First Time Homebuyers program in partnership with the HomeOwnership Center. Our agencies have been working toward this program for almost a year,” said Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo.

She said, “There is no better neighborhood improvement program than assisting people to finance a new home, and the city is proud to help facilitate those who may just be a little short on a down payment or need to fill a gap in their closing costs.”

Izzo said the program will provide up to $15,000 in down payment assistance to eligible prospective buyers and the loans are 100% forgivable.

“With the resources of the HomeOwnership Center, we hope buyers will be able to take advantage of this new opportunity to assist financing their forever home in the City of Rome,” the mayor said.

Eligible properties include existing one- and two-family homes located anywhere within the Rome’s Corporation Tax District (inside district). The program will not provide grants on cash purchase homes, fixer-uppers, construction conversion mortgages, FHA mortgages or any new build projects.

Rome Zoning Board of Appeals member Michele Reid, who is also a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker Faith Properties, said the First Time Homebuyer Assistance Program is a great program in helping to “get the (housing) market going.”

Reid advised that potential first-time home buyers “read the fine print” and make sure to consult a real estate agent, and their lenders, to be sure they meet the requirements.

Those who take part in the assistance program “need to take a class, and they also have to check with their lenders to make sure they’re OK with it (taking part in the program),” Reid said. “They did offer one of these programs before, but it was for areas outside Utica and Rome. This one is for the inner district of Rome.”

Those who participate, “should get advice from their lenders directly,” Reid added. “Banks are being very vigilant about offering packages to help with interest rates as they continue to rise, and they’re offering refinancing when the rates do come down. It’s always in your best interest to talk to an agent who can guide you through the process and help find the best deal. A lot of lenders work with us on a regular basis.”

Reid said there are also some tax deferral and deduction programs available, but a qualified real estate agent can usually direct first-time buyers to find this information.

“Rome is up and coming — we are the center of what’s happening all around us as far as the new (semiconductor chip factory plant) in Clay, we have our tech park and Wolfspeed (in Marcy) — we’re at the center of all of that, so Rome is the place to be and the place to invest in,” said Reid.


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