Santa Clara County’s Down Payment Assistance Program Makes Buyer-Friendly Changes

Empower Collage

Many renters in the Bay Area think it would never be possible to come up with a down payment to buy a home.

With a down payment assistance loan of up to 17% through Empower Homebuyers SCC – a program funded through Santa Clara County’s Measure A – first-time homeownership is possible, and we’re reminded of that every time we get to chat with the teachers, machinists, individuals, and families who have become first-time homebuyers with Empower. You can read some of their stories here.

Housing Trust Silicon Valley and the County of Santa Clara are excited to share positive new changes to the Empower program, effective December 1. The changes include the following:

  • Middle FICO Credit Score changed to 620, instead of 680.
  • Household Residency Documentation changed for Co-Borrowers, Non-Borrowing Spouses, and all adult household members:
    • Primary borrower must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident alien.
    • Co-borrowers and all adult household members can present alternative documents, please refer to Policies and Procedures.
  • Provide 3 Months of Rental and Utility Documentation, instead of 6 months.
  • Extension Requests: program eligible homebuyers must show proof of at least one rejected offer on a property.

Empower is a down payment assistance loan to help first-time homebuyers with up to 17% of the purchase price of a single family home, condo, or townhome in Santa Clara County.

The maximum loan amount is $187,000 on a home that is up to $1,100,000. With only a 3% down payment required from the buyer, a 20% down payment on the home is possible. As a 30-year deferred loan, no monthly loan payments are required.

This program is made for those with low to moderate incomes in the Bay Area. For example, with a household of four people, if your combined income is $181,550 or less, you may be eligible. If you want to buy a home just for yourself and make $127,100 or less, you could also qualify. See additional Area Median Income information on the Empower website.

Really do your research and trust the program you end up choosing. Sometimes there is a negative connotation with down payment assistance and there shouldn’t be. Everyone has a different situation, and you should choose the best option that works for you. Housing Trust and the County really do want to help you. It’s a foot in the door, a way to get into homeownership.

– Kristy and David, recent Empower homebuyers read their story here

Interested first-time homebuyers are encouraged to attend a free informational webinar, visit the Empower website to learn the steps to apply, and join the Empower Contact List to receive information about upcoming webinars, events, and resources.

The next free informational webinar about the program will be on December 7, from 5:30-6:30 pm, and will be presented entirely in Spanish. Additional webinars will be added soon. Be first to know by signing up for the Empower Contact List at https://housingtrustd1.wpengine.com/join-the-empower-homebuyers-scc-contact-list.

Learn more at HousingTrustSV.org/Empower, call 408-703-3837 ext. 301 or email EmpowerHomebuyersSCC@housingtrustsv.org.

Housing Trust is hiring! Go to housingtrustsv.org/careers to view and apply for open positions!