By Lisa Scontras
Thinking about taking that first step to join the growing number of next-generation homeowners? That first-time leap from renter to homeowner is not as complicated or as scary as you may think. The allure of swapping monthly rent for the values of homeownership has renters jumping into the housing market this summer. And it may be easier than you think.
Thanks to First Hawaiian Bank's First Step Home Loan program, first-time buyers are able to overcome some of the most common financial obstacles to owning a home — including lowering the down-payment requirements.
According to Elina Grugier-Bell, assistant vice president and manager of the Mortgage Banking Department at First Hawaiian Bank, the First Step Home Loan program is designed to help first-timers achieve their dream of homeownership.
Topping the list of first-time homebuyer jitters are: Can I afford to buy a home? Can I qualify for a loan? Is this too much of a financial stretch? Can my family assist with a portion of the down payment? First Hawaiian Bank's First Step Home Loan program addresses these issues.
"Often, coming up with a down payment, typically 20 percent of the purchase price, is the biggest obstacle," says Grugier-Bell. "However, there are mortgage options available with less costs and lower down payment requirements, such as our First Step Home Loan. This program allows a lower down payment, and without the added cost of mortgage insurance, easing the cash crunch first-timers often face."
"Here in Hawaii, parents and family members are often willing and able to help their children own a home," she adds. "This product is tailor-made to allow the borrower and their gifting family to work together to accomplish the dream of homeownership. Paying only a shared portion of the down payment is much more achievable and often removes the biggest home-buying obstacle."
With the First Step Home Loan program, there is a minimum down payment requirement that is lower than the typical loan. Even with this lower down-payment requirement, there is no requirement for mortgage insurance and there are some closing cost discounts offered.
If you're not sure if this program is right for you or if you can afford to buy a home, talk to an expert at First Hawaiian Bank.
"We will consider all of the borrower's financial information — years of work experience, credit history, current debt — to determine the purchase price, loan amount and monthly payment most appropriate to their current financial situation," she says. "By looking into monthly payment, taxes, insurance and home maintenance expenses, we can better determine on a case-by-case basis if the cost of homeownership is comfortable, or too much of a stretch financially."
"This product has many great features, including a competitive interest rate, waived mortgage insurance and an option where family gifts can be accepted as part of the reduced down payment," says Grugier-Bell.
"Low mortgage interest rates are motivating aspiring homeowners, as it gives them more buying power," says Grugier-Bell. "But in Hawaii, the down-payment requirement and some of these other tacked-on fees can put buying a home out of reach. First Hawaiian Bank is determined to help first-time homebuyers and the First Step Home Loan product was inspired specifically to provide this group of buyers an overall cash savings upfront — allowing them to be successful first-time homeowners."