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Wells Fargo to help Charlotte homebuyers with down payments

CHARLOTTE –Wells Fargo is giving homebuyers in Charlotte $6.6 million in grants for down payments.

City homebuyers can apply for the $15,000 down-payment assistance grants at a free event being held at the Convention Center on Oct. 25 and 26.  The Wells Fargo Neighborhood Lift event is being held in collaboration with the City of Charlotte, Neighborhood Works America, and the Charlotte- Mecklenburg Housing Partnership.

Rod Banks, the Charlotte community development manager for San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, said the program is about stabilizing communities and helping communities most affected by the financial crisis through down-payment assistance and homebuyer education programs.

Started in 2012, the program has already been rolled out in 21 communities nationwide. According to a Wells Fargo news release, the Lift program has helped more than 4,200 owners move into their own homes.

Who qualifies for the grant? “Anyone who makes up to the 120 percent of Charlotte’s median income, which for a family of four is $78,000,”said Banks.  It’s for first-time homebuyers as well as individuals who have owned a home in the past, but the program only applies for properties within city limits.

Interested homebuyers must first register for the event at www.wellsfargo.com/lift. Prospective homebuyers will need to be prequalified with any lender approved by the Charlotte -Mecklenburg Housing Partnership.

If the homebuyer is not yet prequalified for a loan, he will be able to meet with representatives at the convention center who will assist with prequalification. Homebuyers have 60 days to purchase a home in the city limits; they must stay in the home for five years; and the property has to cost under $200,000.

In addition, buyers must attend an eight-hour homebuyer education workshop with the Charlotte- Mecklenburg Housing Partnership.

Ralphine Caldwell, senior vice president for homeownership at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership, said the nonprofit is very proud that Wells Fargo and Neighborhood Works America invited them to partner in the program because both organizations see the value of educating buyers about the responsibilities of homeownership.

Caldwell says the workshops teach buyers how to be financially self-sufficient by teaching them about credit, home maintenance and foreclosure prevention.

“Fifty-four percent of homeowners do not operate on a budget; 49 percent have no emergency savings. Carolinians have $20 billion in credit card debt,” she said. “We teach them to save for a rainy day.”

Banks said real estate agents play a huge role in getting the word out about this program to potential home buyers. He said Wells Fargo mortgage consultants are making real estate agents aware of the program so they can share the information with buyers about the availability of an additional $15,000 for a down payment.

Douglas Robinson, spokesman for Neighborhood Works, the national umbrella organization of which the Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership is a member, stressed that the mortgage assistance program is not just for lower-income buyers. He encourages qualified middle-income buyers who are looking for down-payment assistance to apply for the grants.

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