The New Jersey Down Payment Assistance Program

Recently Shannon sat down with her favorite mortgage expert, Jon Lamkin, with Guaranteed Rate. He is the cream of the crop in the mortgage industry. Jon and Shannon talked about the exciting new New Jersey Mortgage program, the New Jersey Down Payment Assistance Program. Additional funding from Hurricane Sandy left New Jersey with some extra monies. The state has allocated the $3 million dollars left to be used to assist first-time homebuyers with up to $16,000 towards their down payment and/or closing costs. The program is designed for 6 counties in New Jersey. Essex, Union, and Passaic counties are the areas that Shannon and Jon service that qualify for the program. The program is specifically for first-time homebuyers, and there are income restrictions. Families earning $131,000 or less would qualify for the program. A minimum 620 credit score is also required which is feasible as it is not an incredibly high score. Conventional, FHA, and VA mortgages are all allowed with this program. It can be used for the purchase of a single family home, multi family home, or condos.

Milleniums have really started to take advantage of this program. The program is great for people who have possibly been paying $3,000 or more a month in rent who just haven’t been able to save enough for a down payment. Even if someone does have enough to cover the down payment, sometimes they can forget about the closing costs which can be an additional 2.5 – 3%.

As an example, to purchase a $350,000 house, 20% down would be $70,000. That might not be realistic. So, suppose someone only has $35,000 to put down. That’s 10% down. But then maybe they don’t have money for closing costs. You can then take that $16,000 and put it towards some of the down payment or closing costs. Now, they have $51,000 vs. the original $35,000.

Next Shannon and Jon talked about purchasing a home with even less down, perhaps through an FHA loan. With an FHA loan, you can purchase a home with as little as 3.5% down. So, for example, if you purchase a $300,000 home, you only need $10,500 for the down payment. Perhaps the closing costs are another $10,000. That’s a total of a little of $20,500 needed. With this program, someone could purchase a home with $4,500 of their own savings and use the $16,000 to make up the rest of the costs. The pros of an FHA loan are: Interest rates are typically lower; The loan is not credit-sensitive. Cons of the FHA loan include: You do need to pay the upfront Mortgage Protection premium, with is 1.75% being added into the loan which gets financed over 30 years.

If someone uses the $16,000 New Jersey Down Payment Assistance Program, that money does not need to be paid back with interest. The $16,000 acts as a lien on the property; However, if the homeowners own their home for at least 5 years, the $16,000 loan is forgiven. Jon mentioned some people buy their first home and live it in for 3 or 4 years and then decide to move again. He said if they rent out the home, but still own it, that $16,000 would still be forgiven after 5 years. Shannon talked about the benefits of real estate investments. She said if you can get into your first property with a very small amount of money down, and then start saving money for the down payment of your second home, then, when it’s time to move out, keep that first property as rental income, even if it’s just a break-even, and let someone else pay down your mortgage for 15, 18 or 20 years, that rental income could now potentially fund a college education. With an FHA loan, however, you do have to notify the lender if you move out.

They ended their conversation with a discussion regarding current rates. Rates right now are approx. 3.75% on a 30-year fixed mortgage. Jon says it is only a matter of time before long-term interest rates are going to go up. With rates being as low as they are now, and home owner affordability being high, there are a lot of buyers out there right now.

If you are thinking of buying a home, be sure to contact the Shannon Aronson team. We’d be happy to arrange a showing for you. Curious about the area? Contact us for a FREE copy of our town snapshots. You can reach us by phone at 973.637.0004 or via email at For more great real estate information, please be sure to visit my website at