Urban Pioneer program offers $10,000 to first-time home buyers in Port Huron

For many years, the City of Port Huron offered a repayable installment assistance loan through the Urban Pioneer Program (UPP), but now a significant expansion of program funding makes it easier than ever for buyers. of a first home in Port Huron.

“The goal is to help people get settled and make home ownership accessible to a larger segment of the population,” says Jazmyn Thomas, Community Development Program Administrator for the City of Port Huron. . “At the end of the day, houses are normally people’s greatest asset, so it’s critical to bring people into a house who otherwise might not be able to afford to buy a house.”

Previously, the program offered $5,000 for down payment assistance, but additional funding was made available earlier this year.

“The program was always $5,000 since its inception, so it never changed in amount, and with the market as it is, we really had to increase it,” says Thomas. “Houses are really expensive right now and $5,000 isn’t what it used to be.”

First-time home buyers or those who have not owned real estate in the last three years, with a low to moderate income and looking to purchase a home in Port Huron are eligible for program financing which is forgivable as long as the resident lives in the house for five years and maintains the property.

“Of all the areas we lend to, I don’t know of a single program that’s better than Urban Pioneer,” says Aaron Hulett, loan officer at MiMutual Mortgage. “If the buyer lives there for five years or more, they don’t have to pay anything back — it’s literally free money. Other grant programs available, you usually have to repay. »

Port Huron residents Tyler Moldovan and Alexandra Hand are packing to move into their new home.

Port Huron resident Tyler Moldovan used the program when he and girlfriend Alexandra Hand bought their first home together in 2019. A metro Detroit native, Moldovan says he came to Port Huron to help his brother who had bought a house that needed a lot of work. . Eventually the Moldovan fell in love with the area and decided to stay.

“It’s amazing, not just for tourism purposes, but just living here is amazing,” he says. “The cost of living is reasonable, the amenities that are currently here and what could happen with less vacancies – it looks like the fuse is on and it’s only a matter of time before it blows .”

Now the proud owners of a historic home built in 1888, Moldovan says funding from the program has helped them avoid the stress of borrowing money from family to buy the property.

“It was just peace of mind,” says Moldovan. “The program added no stressors and everyone was helpful. Whether he’s giving resources to people who normally don’t have the opportunity or creating another way for people to get that without relying on other people, that’s good to know that it exists.

For those with a low credit score or limited funds for a down payment, Amber Woods, realtor for Realty Executives Home Towne, says buying a home is still doable.

“I think the biggest misconceptions around homeownership are that you need lots of money or really good credit, but there are plenty of resources out there,” Woods says. “Home ownership is not that far away. We may have to work on some things, but it can happen.

Aaron Hulett, loan officer at MiMutual Mortgage in Port Huron.Amid talk of inflation for some potential buyers, Hulett says mortgage rates are still below average historical 30-year fixed rates. Depending on several factors, including loan amount and credit score, he says most borrowers could expect to see mortgage rates average around 5.7 to 5.8 percent.

“If you really look at it, it’s a really, really good time to buy,” says Hulett. “Any change in the market or the economy starts to change, inflation sets in, people are kind of paralyzed by this information and don’t know what to do. Right now people are saying the housing market is going crash or fall and there’s plenty of data to back up that it just won’t happen.

Hulett says that with current market dynamics, he thinks the city will see more use of the Urban Pioneer program as a result.

“Rent prices have risen at the same or higher rate as house values,” Hulett says. “To try and rent an average three-bedroom house in St. Clair County right now, the price varies, but it’s between $1,200 and $1,500 a month and you can own a nice house for that.”

With many having been pushed out of the market in recent years and an influx of remote work opportunities, programs such as Urban Pioneer may be attractive to potential owners who are no longer restricted by proximity to their workplace.

“We haven’t seen it used in the last two years because the market has been so competitive, but the market is slowly moving with interest rates,” Hulett says. “I think the program will particularly shine in the next couple of years as the housing market is likely slowly stabilizing.”

To see the full list of program requirements or to download an application, visit porthuron.org/departments/planning_community_development/community_development_division.php.

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