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Let’s Get to the Reali-tea of Down Payment Assistance!

Proper-Tea Time Episode 7: Down Payment Assistance

Buying a home for the first time can be terrifying! Let’s face it, a lot of people end up staying in their leased apartments way longer than is necessary because they don’t have the information they need to understand the process. Well, that’s not your job!

It is so much easier than you would think to purchase a home, and all the information that you’ll need lies with your lender and your Realtor. We have spent the hours, days, months, even years of our time learning about all the ins and outs of buying and selling homes so that you don’t have to.

Recently, I got to sit down with loan originator, Natalia Vecchiarelli, to discuss what a lender can do for you when it comes to first-time homebuyer programs and down payment assistance, and the fact that you don’t even have to be a first-time homebuyer to take advantage of the essential programs.

Natalia works for Spire Financial on their Williams Team. She loves helping to fulfill her client’s dreams of homeownership almost as much as she loves breakfast burritos (check out her top ten list below). And the discipline and drive she learned as a competitive, nationally acclaimed figure skater and ice dancer have moved her quickly to the expert level of her particular niche.

What’s stopping people from starting the process

There are a number of factors that tend to stall prospective home buyers.

  • There’s a general belief that the only way that you can buy a home is if you have 20% down on a new home in cash.

  • Many people think they can’t get a mortgage if they still have student loans.

  • Some people think they have to pay their lender/Realtor/broker upfront.

All of these common misconceptions are untrue. In fact, the money that you’d traditionally have to put down to lease an apartment might be all you need to get into your own home.

The fact is, the home buying process is confusing, and as Natalia mentions, “They don’t teach you this stuff in school.” That’s why it is the lender’s job to know all the details. A prospective buyer simply provides the lender with some key financial information and Real Estate goals, and that lender will inform the borrower/buyer of their options.

How do I get started?

The process is much more manageable than people think. You’ll basically be supplying the lender, and later your Realtor, with documents and information that they will use to create your loan package and find you a home.

It goes a little something like this-

Talk to a lender!

It is a lender’s job to take all of your information and find different options to suit your needs. They have the expertise on programs like Metro DPA and CHFA (Colorado Housing Finance Authority) and can layer those on top of FHA and conventional loans to get you into a home. They will want to look at your credit, income and goals and translate that into what you can afford and what program will suit you best.

Get pre-approved!

The pre-approval process takes as little as 24 hours. The lender will do a credit pull and request documents to prove income. In less than one day, you should know the amount you are pre-approved to borrow in order to purchase a home. You’ll also receive proof of that approval for your Realtor’s reference.

First-time homebuyer courses

These courses are required in order to take advantage of FHA loans and down payment assistance programs. They can be taken online and usually take about three hours to complete. Once you’ve received your completion certificate, you’ll go ahead and send that to your lender.

Start looking for your dream home!

Now that you know how much you can spend and how you’ll be paying, the fun part begins. Collaborate with your Realtor, describe your goals, wants and needs, and find that dream house!

What are the guidelines for CHFA and Metro DPA programs?

To qualify for a CHFA or Metro DPA program there will be a-

  • Maximum allowable income

  • Minimum credit score (around 620-640)

  • Requirement of occupancy (meaning you cannot use down payment assistance for investment properties—primary residences only)

  • Requirement of homebuyer education

When do I have to pay back my down payment assistance?

If you qualify and take out a CHFA loan, you’ll pay back the loan when you sell or refinance your home.

If you qualify for the Metro DPA Grant Program, your loan will be fully forgiven if you remain in the home for 3 years without refinancing.

What are the guidelines for FHA loans?

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are designed to help borrowers get mortgages and ensure that lenders are protected. They typically have lower credit score requirements (500) and request a smaller down payment (3.5%) than a conventional loan, therefore they are easier to qualify for.

You’ll need-

  • At least two established credit accounts (credit cards, car loans, personal loans, lines of credit)

  • To be current with any federal debt or judgments, or any debt related to past FHA loans

Can I still utilize lender credits?

Lender credits affect your interest rate and closing costs. In essence, your lender will give you a credit to cover part or all of your closing costs in exchange for a higher interest rate on your loan. This means that you will have to bring less cash to the table when purchasing your home. However, if you are utilizing down payment assistance you are not eligible to take advantage of lender credits.

Are these programs only available to first-time homebuyers?

FHA loans are available to anyone purchasing their primary residence (or the residence that they will occupy).

You can utilize first-time homebuyer benefits again if you are under a certain income and if you have not owned your primary residence in the last 3 years.

The Reali-tea

The reali-tea of the situation is that you might be able to qualify for the loans and programs that could get you into your very own home today. It is easier than you think and the first step is the easiest of all—call a lender! In the initial phone call, you’ll lay out your goals and your resources, setting the ball rolling toward the perfect package for your purchase! And if you aren’t quite ready, that lender will be able to inform you of what you need to work on (credit score and savings for sure!).

Natalia would be honored to guide you on your path to financial independence. Reach her with a call, 720-205-2232, or email,, today!

And when you’re ready to look for homes for sale in Longmont, CO, call me, Sarah Morrow, your expert Longmont Realtor. Don’t wait for the perfect moment, it may never come, and don’t you want to get out of the endless rent rat race? Allow me to hook you up with a fantastic lender, and let’s start perusing some Longmont homes in search of that dream house. Let my tenacity move you!

To watch the most recent episode of Proper-Tea Time, Episode 7: Down Payment Assistance, subscribe to my YouTube channel. Every episode is chock full of all things Longmont, CO Real Estate. And while you’re here, check out my blogs Perks of Homeownership and Taking the Scary Out of Commercial & Small Business Lending.

As promised!

Natalia’s Top Ten Breakfast Burritos:

1. Bonfire Burritos

2. Blackbelly Breakfast Burritos

3. The Village Coffee Shop

4. Sam’s No. 3

5. Butcher Block Café

6. Rocky Mountain Coffee Roasters

7. The Pick

8. West Bound and Down

9. Sunny’s in Sunnyside

10. Araujo’s – Jefferson Park

Thank you, Natalia!

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