Weigh the pros and cons of homeownership versus another type of living arrangement.
There are many advantages of owning your own home, including stability of monthly housing costs, tax benefits and investment potential. There are also a number of potential downfalls, however. For example, do you know how your benefits would be impacted? Have you thought about the cost of maintaining your own home?
Make sure your credit is in order.
While there are flexible mortgage programs available to homebuyers with disabilities, your credit score can still "make or break" your shot at homeownership.
One issue that may arise is that you have not established a traditional credit record through the payment of credit cards or loans. If this is the case, you can work on building a non-traditional credit record by documenting your monthly payments to your landlord, and your phone and utility providers.
If you have had past, serious credit problems you must take steps to repair your credit score before applying for a mortgage. While increasing your credit score will take time and require an ongoing effort from you, you can see quick improvement by paying down your past debt and by successfully disputing negative information on your credit report.
To learn more about the importance of credit, read the Fannie Mae Guide Knowing and Understanding Your Credit (The preceding link has been provided by Consumer Credit and Budget Counseling, Inc.).
Determine what it will take for you to purchase a home.
You must carefully assess your income in relation to the ongoing expense of homeownership. Don't forget to factor in property taxes and energy expenses. Consider potential fluctuations in your income and expenses. You should also identify any upfront costs associated with purchasing the home. For example, how much of a down payment is required, how much are closing costs? Will you need to make any immediate repairs or accessibility modifications to the home?
Identify potential community resources.
There are a number of programs and information resources available to homebuyers with disabilities.
Your best bet is to first identify an organization that can assist you with the entire home buying process. One excellent resource is your local Center for Independent Living (CIL). CILs often offer homebuyer education counseling, money management training, and benefits counseling. Some may even offer downpayment and closing cost assistance. To locate the CIL in your area, look in your local phone book under social services: disability. A list of centers is available on our website by visiting Independent Living: State Centers for Independent Living (CILs).
Another great resource is your local housing counseling agency. Contact a HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agency. To be directly connected to your local agency, call the HUD Housing Counseling referral line, (800) 569-4287.
Identify other potential sources of assistance.
There are many different programs available to first-time homebuyers offering everything from down payment and closing cost assistance to monthly vouchers towards the payment of your mortgage.
Your local Housing Finance Agency (HFA) offers a range of programs designed to assist low-moderate-income people attain a home of their own. In addition to offering assistance to obtain your home, many agencies also offer assistance for accessible modifications. To locate your state agency, visit the National Council of State Housing Agencies.
Another option is the Section 8 Homeownership Voucher Program. If you currently use a Section 8 voucher to pay for rent, you may be able to use this same voucher to help pay for your mortgage. To learn if your state offers this program, contact your local Public Housing Agency (PHA).
To learn about other home buying programs available in your state, check out HUD: Local Homebuying Programs.
Identify a lending program.
There are many different lending options available to first-time homebuyers. There is one program in particular, however, that has been designed especially for homebuyers with disabilities - Fannie Mae HomeChoice.
HomeChoice is a mortgage program available to low- and moderate-income people who have disabilities or who have family members with disabilities living with them. HomeChoice mortgages offer flexibility in down payments, qualifying debt-to-income ratios, and credit history. To learn more about this program, call (800) 732-6643.
To learn of even more home buyer programs, check out the topics available on our Housing page.
For even more information on homeownership, visit our Home Buying Guides.
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