Tompkins County Homeownership Program
Better Housing administers the Tompkins County Homeownership Program, which provides education, homebuyer counseling, and financial assistance to make a first home an achievable dream for many families. We offer our participants funds applied toward a down payment and closing costs. Since 1993, this program has helped over 350 low-to-moderate-income families and individuals purchase the places they now call home.
How the Program Works
What we cover: This program provides assistance with down payment and closing costs, up to 30% of the total. The maximum financial assistance is $25,000. We also provide a home inspection before purchase at no charge to you.
What you cover: Clients must provide a minimum of $1,500 or 2% of the purchase price (whichever is greater) of their own funds for the home purchase. These funds cannot be gifts; you must demonstrate the savings. You must be able to obtain a first mortgage for the remainder of the purchase price from a local lending institution
Home price: We determine each client’s maximum approved price based on their financial situation. The program’s current limit is $150,000.
Timing: At a minimum, you should be prepared for the house purchase process to take approximately three months. House purchases and clients are required to be approved by the TCHOP Oversight Committee, which meets monthly.
Selling the home: If you move before the program mortgage is paid off or diminished, it will be paid off at the time of sale.
We cannot assist with purchasing a home for which you already submitted a purchase offer before entering the program. Properties may be purchased in all municipalities in Tompkins County except the City of Ithaca.
To be eligible for program funds, the home must be in good condition at time of sale; no “handyman specials” may be purchased. All homes must be on a permanent foundation. Many types of properties are eligible, including:
Dwellings designed to accommodate more than two households are not eligible for program funding. A duplex or home with an apartment is eligible; however, rental income will be counted in the household eligibility calculation.
We discourage homebuyers from looking at houses before completing the First-Time Homebuyers Workshop.
Income limits: To be eligible for assistance, households must have an income at or below 80% of the area median annual income, as calculated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Minimum income: Because of the cost of housing in Tompkins County, a minimum annual income of $14,000 is required.
Credit history: Each applicant must have a credit history free from bankruptcy or serious credit problems that would make a first mortgage unobtainable from a local lending institution.
Counseling: Participants are required to receive one-on-one counseling and education about home ownership before purchasing a home through the program. All required counseling and education sessions are free of charge.