Western North Carolina First-Time & Low-Income Homebuyer Resource Guide
Credit Basics for Homebuyers
1. There are 3 FICO credit scores, one for each credit bureau. Lenders typically look at your middle FICO score to determine if you’re eligible for a mortgage and what interest rate to charge you. The lower the score, the higher the interest rate. Different mortgage products have different requirements. The following are typical credit score thresholds but they can vary a bit.
2. OnTrack WNC can help you build your scores.
- First, get your credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Want that score to be higher? Register for a free Credit Counseling Session.
Where to Find Affordable Mortgage Products
- Talk to at least three local lenders and compare APR as well as total finance costs. Your best offers may include FHA, VA, or USDA Guaranteed loans. They should also be able to connect you with many of the down payment assistance sources listed below.
- You won’t hear about USDA Direct from lenders because you get this one directly from the USDA. They offer no down payment and low interest rates for those buying outside the City of Asheville. Learn more about USDA Direct or call 828-254-0916.
Down Payment Help
There are several sources of assistance available for closing costs and down payment for those who qualify:
- City of Asheville – Down Payment Assistance Program – $5000 to $40,000 in the form of a down payment assistance loan. As of February 2020, this program is on hold. Clients should call the city regarding the DPA at this point: after mortgage approval and upon finding a home. We’ll update this page as we learn more. In the meantime, the city's webpage has more details.
- Mountain Housing Opportunities – Down Payment Assistance – $20,000 to $30,000 in the form of a down payment assistance loan. Learn more about Mountain Housing’s program for Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood, and Madison Counties.
- NC Housing Finance Agency – Down payment assistance loan for up to $8000 or 5% of the primary mortgage amount. For more info, go to the NCHFA’s website or find a participating lender and ask them about NCHFA down payment assistance. (While you’re at it, ask about the NC Home Advantage Tax Credit!)
- Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta – Affordable Housing Programs – Down payment assistance loans ranging from $5000 for first-time homebuyers to $7500 for first responders, healthcare workers, and veterans. Explore more details about the Federal Home Loan Bank Program or contact one of the following local, participating lenders: BB&T, First Bank, HomeTrust Bank, Self-Help Credit Union.
Several nonprofits in the area provide affordable homes in exchange for “sweat equity,” labor put in by the homebuyer to reduce the cost of the home.
- Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity (for those who live or work in Buncombe County)
- Mountain Housing Opportunities – Self Help Homeownership (property must be located in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison or Haywood counties).
- Henderson County Habitat (for those who live or work in Henderson County)
- Housing Assistance Corporation – Self Help Housing (for resident of Henderson, Transylvania, or Polk counties)
- Madison County Habitat for Humanity
- Haywood Habitat for Humanity (for residents of Haywood County)
- Mountain Projects – Self Help Housing Program (Haywood county)
- Transylvania Habitat for Humanity
Housing Authority of the City of Asheville – Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program – If you have a housing voucher, you can use it to make mortgage payments. For more info, call the Housing Authority at 828- 239-3536.
The Fair Housing Act protects many groups from housing discrimination.
Here’s How to Protect Yourself:
- Find a realtor who is comfortable spending time with you, will be honest with you, and will advocate for you.
- Shop around for your mortgage! Getting estimates from multiple sources is the only way of knowing if you are getting a fair deal.
- Suspicious? Call 2-1-1 for resources to help.
Want help with building credit, paying off debt, or buying a home?
Call us at 255-5166 to book one of these counseling appointments. If you prefer to do your screening online instead of calling us, visit our screening page to take the first step in our online intake process. All counseling is now done on Zoom (or phone if you don’t have computer, smart phone, or internet access).
Know about a program we should add to this page? Let us know!