Now that it’s back to school time, it’s a great time to talk about homebuyer programs for educators and first responders. Those who work on the front lines of public service in San Antonio, such as teachers, firefighters, EMTs, police, corrections officers, and military personnel can often qualify for special financial perks when making major life choices. Student loan forgiveness, as an example, is one of the more well-known incentives available to a wide range of public servants and has been in the news a lot lately due to expanded student loan forgiveness on the federal level.
What some people aren’t aware of is that educators and first responders may also be eligible for significant financial incentives when purchasing a new home. In the State of Texas, there are a multitude of special home financing programs available through both private institutions and government-funded programs. Teachers and first responders looking for resources while purchasing a home in Texas have several programs they can consider. Most of these programs offer the same or similar incentives, whether you’re a teacher, ambulance driver, or police officer, which will help to simplify your research.
Homes for Texas Heroes is a program that offers housing assistance to teachers and first responders in Texas and is administered through the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation.
The program is subject to income and credit score requirements. Here are the details:
- Mortgage discounts are available for teachers and first responders in the form of special access to fixed-rate home loans.
- Down payment assistance programs are available.
- The application process is open to anyone working in a public K-12 as a full-time teacher, aide, librarian, (certified) counselor, or nurse, as well as firefighters, EMS, active-duty military, veterans, corrections officers, police/public safety officers, nurses, and other frontline healthcare professionals.
- Homes for Texas Heroes offers a special discount for first-time home buyers who are also using the Mortgage Credit Certificate tax credit program. This can represent an additional $500 savings.
Another good resource for teachers looking to buy a home in Texas is the Teacher Next Door program. Despite its name being educator-focused, Teacher Next Door also offers great programs for all sorts of EMS personnel. Teacher Next Door offers housing assistance to Texas educators in the form of a non-repayable grant. Here is a brief rundown of Teacher Next Door’s programs and the associated perks:
- Grant amounts are between $1,000 and $8,000 and can be used towards any home on the market.
- The application process is open to all teachers, administrators, and staff of institutions teaching at pre kindergarten through college levels, in addition to firefighters, EMTs, police, nurses, and military personnel.
- In addition to grants, Teacher Next Door also offers a supplemental down payment assistance program.
- There are no application or brokerage fees, and discounts are available on other fees.
- Free appraisal in the form of a credit at closing
- Access to credit repair and refinancing tools
The Good Neighbor Next Door program is also another powerful resource for first responders and educators shopping for a Texas home. This is a specialized tool through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that can help teachers, firefighters, police, and other qualifying individuals get a steep discount on the listed price when buying a previously foreclosed home. Here’s the rundown:
- The program applies to foreclosure homes in HUD-designated “revitalization areas.”
- Total savings of 50% off the listed price. HUD takes out a “silent loan” for the other 50% and forgives the loan after the terms of the program have been met.
- Open to pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade public school teachers, in addition to firefighters, law enforcement officers, and EMTs.
- Participants are bound by contract to reside in the home for a minimum of 3 calendar years.
- Qualifying homes can be located using an online search tool provided by HUD.
Southeast Texas Housing Finance Corporation’s (SETH) 5 Star program is the last program we’ll share about in detail. SETH has been assisting Texans in buying homes for more than four decades now, and you do not necessarily need to be a public servant to benefit from their services. SETH’s services are available anywhere in Texas other than Travis County and outside the cities of El Paso, Grand Prairie, and McKinney. Some of what they offer includes:
- Homebuyer education resources (self-paced, web-based classes)
- Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) tax credit program. This is a free tool available to first-time homebuyers and can score you a refundable tax credit of up to $2,000.
- Direct assistance of up to 5% based on your final loan amount
- Special fixed-rate and forgivable loan programs
- Homes purchased under the SETH 5-Star program must be priced under $492,500.
- Availability subject to income and credit score requirements
Many private lenders also have special mortgage discounts for teachers and other frontline workers. Some of these programs were developed as special “thank you” perks for frontline workers in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, while others are more longstanding programs. These perks will differ from lender to lender and may include things like:
- Special interest rates
- Waived fees
- Access to resources after purchase
- Refinancing tools
It is advisable to call your existing bank and ask if they can offer any special benefits for educators or first responders when you begin looking into buying your new Texas home. Private developers and property managers may also have special incentive programs available for first responders and the other Texas heroes who help keep our communities safe and resilient.
The exact combination of incentives, discounts, and special programs that will apply to you will depend on a multitude of factors, such as:
- Your job title
- Where the home you’re purchasing is located
- The value of the home you’re purchasing
- Your Texas residency status
- Whether your employer is a public or private institution
- Your income level
- Whether this is your first home
Remember, if you’re unsure whether a particular incentive or special program is open to you, it’s always worth taking the time to ask. It might save you hundreds or thousands of dollars on your dream home.
The VIDA San Antonio community will soon be home to many of San Antonio’s great first responders and educators thanks to its proximity to institutions like Texas A&M University-San Antonio and Palo Alto College, and it is also located within the city limits of San Antonio whose first responder departments employ thousands of firefighters, police officers, EMTs and more. If you are interested in learning more about home options at VIDA, please visit the “Living Here” section of our website, www.livevida.com.