Zero out of pocket possible
NeighborhoodLIFT® down payment assistance is at least $20,000 per household. This assistance can be used to pay any of the out of pocket expenses for the purchase of a home: down payment, closing costs, prepaid expenses or discount points to buy a lower rate. If your first mortgage doesn’t require a minimum down payment, the LIFT DPA may enable you to buy with zero money out of pocket.
Special rules for FHA loans
If you use an FHA loan to purchase your property, your down payment options will start at 3.5% of the purchase, which must come from your own funds. NeighborhoodLIFT® assistance can be applied toward closing costs, prepaids or additional down payment, over and above your minimum down payment. FHA rules allow many sources for your minimum contribution, including savings, the sale of assets, gift funds and/or secured loans.
Qualifying for NeighborhoodLIFT® is simple. The income of all borrowers must be at or below the limit for your family size and loan type. You must complete homebuyer education and a counseling session prior to closing.
And last but not least you must must obtain a mortgage pre-approval from a NeighborhoodLIFT® approved lender. You’ll need to bring your pre-approval letter to the mid-December Launch Event for priority processing. (Click here to begin the pre-approval process.)
Not a first-time buyer? That’s okay!
You don’t have to be a first-time buyer to take advantage of the NeighborhoodLIFT® program, but you can’t own another home at the time of closing. If you own a home today, you’ll need to sell it or otherwise transferring ownership before closing on your new home purchase.
Owning bare land or a manufactured home on rented land does not disqualify you from LIFT. And property owned by other members of your household who are not on the loan will not disqualify you either.
$2500 bonus for Teachers, Military, Firefighters, Law Enforcement and EMTs
LIFT for Military gives veterans, active duty members of the armed services, members of the Guard and reservists an extra $2500 of assistance.
LIFT for First Responders and Teachers offers an additional $2500 of assistance to current or retired police and other law enforcement officers, firefighters (including volunteers), EMTs (public and private), teachers and teachers’ aides.
Income limits limits apply
NeighborhoodLIFT® income limits vary based on family size and the type of loan you are using to buy your home. The current limits are as follows:
Your income will be documented and reviewed two times: 1) At the Launch Event, when securing your reservation, and 2) again, when you go into contract on the purchase of a home. Variable sources of income (self-employment, bonus, overtime, commission) are averaged over one or two years. Self-employment income is calculated net of business expenses.
Mix and match borrowers to qualify
For purposes of eligibility, your household size includes you and all of the other people (adults and children) who will live in the home you are buying — whether they are applying for the loan together or not. But only the income of borrowers applying for the loan must be below the income limit for the program.
You are permitted to mix and match borrowers on the loan to stay below the income limit. If you don’t need your spouse’s, partner’s or roommate’s income to qualify for the loan, you can leave them off of the loan application in order to show income below the required limit.
You can use NeighborhoodLIFT® to buy a single-family home (even one with an ADU), townhome, condo, manufactured home (on owned land) or 2- to 4-unit property. The property must be located in the City of Portland and/or Multnomah County.
The property you buy can be existing or new construction. You can even buy the home you are already living in from your landlord.
Nearly any first mortgage allowed
NeighborhoodLIFT® allows nearly any type of first mortgage — conventional, FHA, VA or USDA. Renovation loans are permitted, too. Your loan must be a fixed rate and have a term no longer than 30 years.
NeighborhoodLIFT® places no extra restrictions on your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, purchase price, use of gift funds, seller credits post-closing reserves. Just follow the requirements of your first mortgage.
Thinking of buying a multi-unit property or a home with an ADU or other rentable space? No problem. NeighborhoodLIFT® allows you to buy a home with an ADU, a duplex, triplex or 4-unit property. If you are buying a 2-4 unit property, you’ll be required to complete landlord education prior to closing.
Rental income from other units in the property may be used toward qualifying for your loan, but won’t be counted toward the income limit for qualifying.
Renovation loans permitted
Have your eye on a home that needs a little (or a lot of) updating or some repairs? NeighborhoodLIFT® can be used in conjunction with a renovation loan. A renovation loan allows all-in-one financing for the purchase of your new home, plus funds for repairs or improvements.
Renovation loans can fund minor cosmetic updates, major renovations and everything between. You can even use a renovation loan to build an ADU or convert a home into a duplex, triplex or four-plex.
Mortgage Credit Certificates allowed
If you purchase a property located in the City of Portland, you may also be eligible for a Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC). The MCC program converts 20% of the mortgage interest you pay each year into a dollar-for-dollar Federal tax credit. Some or all of your tax savings may boost the amount you can qualify to borrow and spend on your home.
Post-closing liquid asset limitation
NeighborhoodLIFT® guidelines allow you to have no more than $20,000 of liquid assets after closing. Liquid assets include funds in checking, savings and money market accounts. If you have more than $20,000 at the time your eligibility is established, you’ll be required to pay the excess funds toward your purchase.
You are allowed to have any amount of non-liquid funds. Retirement accounts (IRA, 401k, pension), investment accounts (stocks, bonds, mutual funds), certificates of deposit, college savings plans and accounts in the name of a business are considered “protected” and may exceed $20,000.
You may request a needs-based exception to the $20,000 limitation if you have liquid savings you will need for things like upcoming tuition or medical expenses.
Homebuyer education required
You must complete homebuyer education through a HUD-approved agency at some point within the 12 months prior to your closing date. Education can be done in-person or online. Online education requires an in-person counseling session and must be completed through Portland Housing Center.
What’s the catch?
Your NeighborhoodLIFT® assistance will be recorded as a lien against your home at closing. You don’t have to pay any payments and the interest rate is 0%. On the anniversary of your closing, 20% of your assistance will be forgiven ($4000 or $4500 annually). After 5 years, the assistance is entirely forgiven.
You receive forgiveness, you must live in the property for all of the first 5 years. If you move out, refinance, sell or default on your first mortgage during the first 5 years, any unforgiven balance is due. However, active duty military who receive a permanent change of station qualify for immediate forgiveness. And LIFT assistance may be allowed to stay in place if you refinance your first mortgage, with no cash back, to reduce your rate or payment.
What’s the Process?
The steps to securing NeighborhoodLIFT® assistance are, as follows:
Get pre-approved by a local NeighborhoodLIFT® approved lender
Complete homebuyer education
Register for the Launch Event
Attend the Launch Event (Bring your pre-approval letter and income documents)
Sign a purchase contract
Receive a Commitment Letter (Submit your contract and updated income documents)
Close on your home purchase (before your Commitment Letter expires)
Countdown to contract — you’ll be on the clock!
At the Launch Event, you’ll receive a Reservation Letter. Your Reservation Period will last 60 days, beginning on a date selected by Portland Housing Center. You must have a purchase contract fully signed (by you and your seller by) before the letter expires. If you fail to get an offer accepted during this 60 day window, you will lose your reservation.Extensions are not available, so don’t waste time… go find a house!
Commitment Letter — countdown to closing
Once you have a fully-signed contract, your lender will submit it, along with updated income documents, to Portland Housing Center. Portland Housing Center will verify that your income is still at or below the limit for your loan type and household size and issue a Commitment Letter.
Closing must occur before your commitment letter expires. An extension may be available under certain circumstances. The period of your commitment letter and availability of an extension depends on the nature of your purchase.
Second chance — if you hurry
What happens if you get an offer accepted and then something goes wrong? If your lender rejects your property due to an inspection failure, appraisal defect, low appraisal or if the contract expires for some other reason that is not your fault and the seller refuses to extend closing, you will be offered additional time to close on a subsequent home — if you hurry!
You must be back in contract on a new home before your original 90 day commitment period expires. Once back in contract, you’ll be given a one-time 90 day extension to close on the new property.
Closing – January 21 or later
Closing with NeighborhoodLIFT® assistance can occur any time on or after January 21st.
Contact us with questions
Julee Felsman and her team at the Portland branch of Guaranteed Rate are NeighborhoodLIFT® approved. We are here to answer your questions, and guide you through the process.
We’re looking forward to hearing from you!