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Fischer: Come and get your free money for homeownership

By Jen Fischer - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Sep 30, 2022

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Jen Fischer

Anyone who has ever tried riding a box down the stairs, or perhaps attempted to send a sibling down the laundry chute, is acutely aware of the unintended consequences of acting on some hair-brained idea that “sounded good at the time.” Having been a party on more than one occasion to such aforementioned activities, one would have thought by the time the year 2009 hit, and I had some 40-plus year of practice under my belt, I would have known better, but it was not to be.

As the country was reeling from the onslaught of what would later be known as “the Great Recession,” the federal government rolled out an incentive to first-time homebuyers in an effort to stimulate economic growth, in the form of an $8,000 tax credit. As a Realtor, I embarked upon a marketing campaign to educate the public about this “free money.” I commenced a direct mail postcard canvass advertising of what I thought was this incentive. I had a full-color postcard with me sitting among a pile of money with the tagline “Come and get it.” It seemed like a good idea at the time. In all my one-track-real-estate-mind naivety, I honestly could not have foreseen any other perceived meaning. Others, however, could. It was my own children who educated me on this horrible faux pas: “Mom, what are you really advertising here?” This was after the postcards had been sent.

Although we are not in the economic downturn we once were, there is, once again, “free money” to be had, sans full-color postcards this time. For several years now, Ogden City has offered a program to incentivize homeownership within the city limits. In summary, persons purchasing a primary residence in Ogden, can receive up to $10,000, interest free, as a deferred-payment loan, to be applied toward closing costs and/or down payment of a home, or even principal reduction of the loan. There are specific qualifications that must be met; however, the Own in Ogden program has generously expanded the income limits so that more people can benefit from this program this year. As a bonus, Ogden City police officers and firefighters can receive up to $20,000 and state-certified schoolteachers can receive up to $15,000.

Lest one thinks this has been a well-guarded secret, rest assured that experienced Realtors and seasoned lenders are well-versed in this program. However, for the past two years or so, in a frantically fast-paced market, it was difficult to find a home within the price range in the city that would qualify, let alone have a non-cash offer accepted. Yet, with the market normalizing, there can now be plenty of beneficiaries. Although, technically, this is a loan that must be paid back in full at the time of closing, it is an interest-free loan. That, my friends, is free money. At a time when interest rates are not heading in a downward trajectory, that is nothing but good news. This time, however, I will not be sitting in a pile of cash and have my picture taken to deliver this good news.

As with any program involving funds, there are some I’s to dot and some T’s to cross. A licensed, experienced Realtor can assist with the navigation. This is not a program to sit on and think about, however, because once the funds are gone, they are gone. This is paid on a first come, first served basis, unlike the not-too-distant past when getting first place was only awarded to highest and best.

This whole thing just gave me a really good idea … but perhaps I will run it by a few other sound minds first.

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jen@jen-fischer.com.

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