First-Time Homebuyers in New York Can Get a Helping Hand

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was looking for innovative leadership to bolster the residential housing market in the state when he appointed William Mulrow to serve as chairman of the State of New York Mortgage Agency. New programs developed by the agency appear to confirm that the governor made the right choice.

SONYMA has enabled lenders to offer low interest mortgage financing to first-time homebuyers for many years. Under the leadership of William Mulrow, the agency expanded its programs to include new loan products for retired and active-duty members of the armed forces. Other programs have been added to assist low income buyers who can borrow 97 percent of the value of the home they are purchasing.

The new FHA Plus program takes SONYMA loans to another level by eliminating the requirement that borrowers in the program be first-time buyers. Borrowers may finance up to 96.5 percent of the value of a one- or two-family home or condominium, but borrowers meeting FHA guidelines may be eligible to purchase three- and four-family homes. Buyers may also receive up to three percent of the purchase price of a home in the form of down payment or closing cost assistance.

Borrowers under the FHA Plus program must have a steady job and a credit score of 640 or greater, and they must possess sufficient income to make the monthly mortgage payments. Loan amounts are limited to FHA maximums that vary depending upon the county in which the property is located.

As a finance and investment banking expert, William Mulrow knows the importance of providing people with financing options. The SONYMA Conventional Plus mortgage program offers borrowers the opportunity to finance a new home purchase at competitive interest rates lower mortgage insurance requirements than with other types of mortgage financing, including FHA and conventional.

Other features of the Conventional Plus mortgage include a waiver of the first-time buyer requirement associated with other SONYMA programs, and there is no minimum cash contribution required from the borrower. Down payment assistance eliminates the down payment requirement and can be used to pay closing costs.

Another way in which SONYMA has become innovative in its policies under William Mulrow is by offering builders the opportunity to market their homes as prequalified for SONYMA mortgages. This program encourages the sale of new homes by allowing builders the chance to attract buyers by making the SONYMA new construction qualification process easier.

The builder program through SONYMA includes a provision that allows builders and contractors to join with local governments and not-for-profit organizations to offer new homes or rehabilitated existing properties to grant-eligible buyers. Buyers who receive grants from government or community-based agencies can purchase the homes using the grants and SONYMA mortgages.

Innovative programs that address the needs of borrowers and others in local communities have a direct effect on housing by making home ownership affordable for more residents of the state. These programs also encourage the construction of new homes at price levels that are affordable for people who are eligible for SONYMA mortgages.