San Jose

Santa Clara County Loaning $25M to First-Time Homebuyers

Santa Clara County is loaning out $25 million to first-time homebuyers through a voter-approved measure designed to help middle class families who can’t afford a down payment get into a home of their own.

A workshop on Empower Homebuyers SCC Wednesday drew more than 300 people interested in learning more about the program.

To qualify, a family of four making less than $150,000, hoping to buy a home up to $800,000, can come up with 3 percent down and the country will loan them up to 17 percent of the purchase price — totaling a 20 percent down payment.

Once they sell their home, they pay back to interest-free loan plus a share of the increase in equity.

"It really allows the homeowner to have a fighting chance at affording a home, building up that equity, paying us back so that we can give that back to the next resident of our community," said County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

The county estimates there are only 350 homes below $800,000 in the South Bay, but the program is a step toward keeping families in Santa Clara County who want to be there.

"We have a little money in the bank. Not enough to compete with what's going on around here. But with this program, that puts us in the ballgame," said San Jose resident Luke Santos.

The Santos’ had nearly given up on the dream of buying a home, saying it’s too expensive and they can’t save enough fast enough.

"Not be able to come close to buying a home in the foreseeable future is a little frustrating," Santos said. "We talk about it every day but I think it's more of a dream. Driving around looking at prices of homes, it had never seemed possible and now it's exciting."

For more information on how the program works, click here.

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