City of Durham, NC Launches Mortgage Relief Program

People looking to buy their first home in Durham have a new opportunity to get some extra help in a competitive and expensive market.

Eligible applicants can now receive up to $20,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance through the city’s new Down Payment Assistance Program,

The city is partnering with Community Home Trust, an affordable housing organization based in Orange County.

Applications will be available in English and Spanish from Monday 28 March on the Community Home Trust website.

“Housing prices in Durham have risen dramatically,” Mayor Elaine O’Neal said in a press release. “Our new down payment assistance scheme will help bring home ownership within reach for many people who live or work in Durham, but are priced out of the current sale market.”

The program focuses on low-income applicants who may be prevented from buying a home due to rising prices.

How the program works

Eligible applicants can receive funds in the form of a forgivable loan with a 0% interest rate and a 15-year term on a first-come, first-served basis until $5.7 million in funding available are sold out, according to Community Home Trust.

The main program requirements:

Applicants must have worked or resided in Durham City for at least one year prior to applying.

Applicants must be first-time homebuyers or not have owned a home in the last three years as per federal housing assistance laws. An exception to the three-year requirement may be made for US military veterans.

Applicants may not own any other real estate or have an ownership interest in real estate at the time of closing. For example, vacation homes, timeshares and vacant lots. A derogation can be granted in certain cases detailed in the program guidelines.

Total household income cannot exceed 80% of the regional median income (AMI) for the Durham-Chapel Hill metropolitan area. The AMI boundaries for the Durham-Chapel Hill region are on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development website.

HUD considers 80% of the AMI to be $48,400 for one person, $55,330 for two people, $62,200 for three people, and $69,100 for four people.

Liquid assets are limited to $20,000 (does not include pension plans, IRAs, 401Ks, 529s, funeral accounts, or life insurance with a cash value).

Only fixed rate mortgages are permitted. Variable rate mortgages and owner financing are not permitted.

An important requirement for the program set out by Community Home Trust is that an applicant household cannot have a student enrolled part-time or full-time in higher education who: is under the age of 24, is not an alumni combatant, is not married, does not have a dependent child, is not disabled and receiving Section 8 assistance, is not otherwise individually eligible, or has parents who are not eligible for Section 8 assistance and does not live with relatives who receive or apply for Section 8 assistance.

triangle real estate market

The program comes as Triangle home prices climb to record highs and housing inventories fall.

The median sale price in the Triangle area was $374,900 in February of this year, according to Triangle Multiple Listing Services.

That median figure is up 24% from a year ago, The News & Observer reported. Wake County reached a median sale price of $435,000, while Durham County hit $390,000.

Nationally, the median home price was $345,000 in February, according to RE/MAX, the highest figure ever reported by the real estate company.

The city’s Forever Home, Durham program, a $160 million affordable housing fund, funds the down payment assistance program, as well as HUD’s federal funding and community development block grant programs, according to A press release.

Durham’s $95 million Affordable Housing Bond previously approved by voters in 2019 supports Forever Home, Durham.

Potential applicants who would like more information can visit the program website or contact Community Home Trust’s Community Engagement and Outreach Coordinator, Ivelisse Mercado, via email or 919-967-1545 , out. 302.

English and Spanish support is available, and translation services can also be arranged for other languages.

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Aaron Sánchez-Guerra is a breaking news reporter for The News & Observer and previously covered business and real estate for the paper. His experience includes reporting for WLRN Public Media in Miami and as a freelance journalist in Raleigh and Charlotte covering Latin American communities. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University, a native Spanish speaker, and was born in Mexico. You can follow his work on Twitter at @aaronsguerra.