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Local first-time homebuyers get breaks

A program Pike County’s Board of Realtors are working to bring, coupled with federal stimulus money, could leave first time homebuyers in better shape than ever.

Step Up, a program started in 2000 by the Alabama Housing Finance Authority, could bring big relief to Pike County’s homebuyers if a local lending agency agrees to the deal.

At least that’s what Michael King, single-family administrator with the state housing authority, told the board Wednesday at its monthly meeting.

“We don’t have one in Troy now, but we will work on that,” King said.

Under the program, any homebuyer who makes less than $97,300 a year and has a credit score above 620 is eligible to receive assistance on a down payment and reduced monthly payments.

That, coupled with a federal stimulus tax credit for first time homebuyers, will mean good news.

“They’ll be 100 percent financed, at a fixed rate of 5 percent and an $8,000 tax credit,” said Scott Hendricks, president of the Pike County Board of Realtors. “Why not buy a house?”

A first-time homebuyer is not necessarily one who has never owned a home at all, King said.

“Someone who has not owned a home in the last three years is a first-time homebuyer,” King said.

Hendricks said while these programs would benefit many locally, there isn’t much assistance available for those who aren’t first-time homebuyers.

Still, without stimulus for everyone, Hendricks said Pike County’s housing market is not suffering as much as some of the others in the country. And, it’s even picking up.

“We are having some sales right now, but some points (King) brought up is Alabama is not like the rest of the nation,” Hendricks said. “We’re one of the strongest states right now because we didn’t have sub prime loans and didn’t have a lot of foreclosures.”