A New Grant for Black Americans Offers Free Money for a First Home

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JPMorgan Chase introduced a new grant available to first-time homebuyers in 6,700 communities that the U.S. Census has identified as majority Black and Latinx residents. “Systemic racism is a tragic part of America’s history,” said Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co., in a press release. “We can do more and do better to break down systems that have propagated racism and widespread economic inequality, especially for Black and Latinx people. It’s long past time that society addresses racial inequities in a more tangible, meaningful way.”

See: How to Buy a Home in the Middle of a Pandemic
Find: Buying a Home in 2021? Here’s What You Need To Know

The U.S. Census showed that in the fourth quarter of 2020, Black homeownership was at just 44%, reports The Washington Post, the lowest amongst all minority groups. Chase’s 2021 Homebuyer Grant seeks to bridge the gap on this racial inequity with a $5,000 grant that can be used toward closing costs and down payment on Chase DreaMaker, Standard Agency, FHA and VA mortgages. According to the National Association of Realtors, 26% of first-time homebuyers took out an FHA loan in September 2020, down from 32% in March 2020.

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A Chase spokesperson told GOBankingRates that the latest grant expansion is part of Chase’s $30 billion Path Forward commitment announced last year to help close the racial wealth gap. The Homebuyer Grant combines with other programs, including the aforementioned DreaMaker mortgage, to help homebuyers in underserved communities.

The DreaMaker mortgage provides competitive interest rates and down payments as low as 3%, which can come entirely from gift funds, according to the Chase website. Borrowers can earn an additional $500 upon completion of a homebuyer education course.

See: 17 Dumb Home-Buying Mistakes That Hurt Your Wallet
Find: The 10 Cheapest, Safest Places to Buy a Home in the Pandemic

In addition to details about the grant, Chase offered additional tips for prospective homebuyers seeking an affordable mortgage.

Determine All Costs Associated with Buying a Home to Know What You Can Afford

Buying a home involves more than just a down payment and your monthly mortgage payments. Closing costs can include inspections, fees and a home inspection. Ongoing expenses may include home repairs, property taxes and insurance. “It’s important to factor in the additional expenses beyond your mortgage payment that come with homeownership,” says a Chase spokesperson.

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Additionally, evaluate your budget to see how much you can afford monthly, given all the expenses that go into homeownership. “As a homebuyer, you’ll want to have a certain level of comfort in understanding your monthly mortgage payments and other expenses,” stated the Chase spokesperson. “A home lending advisor can help you do so.”

See: This Is the Salary You Need to Afford the Average Home in Your State
Find: 40 Things Every 40+ Should Know About Buying a Home

Take Advantage of Digital Tools to Better Understand Your Credit and Finances

A recent survey of Chase customers found that 80% prefer to manage their finances digitally. Check and track your credit score online to keep tabs on your finances, the Chase press release advises. Just make sure you’re following your FICO score, the one issued by Fair Isaac Company, which is the one that most lenders use. “When it comes to homeownership, your credit score, along with your debt-to-income ratio, are the major factors in determining if you’ll be approved for a mortgage and the interest rate you’ll receive,” the Chase spokesperson explained.

Seek Out Other Grants and Funding Opportunities

There may be more options for first-time homebuyers than people think, the Chase press release affirms. Search online for grants and down-payment assistance. Your banker or mortgage broker may be able to steer you toward programs in your area, but don’t be afraid to ask around in local networking groups for opportunities you might not find on your own.

See: 17 Surprising Things About Buying a Home During the Pandemic
Find: Biden to Offer $15,000 First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit

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Build a Team of Advisors Who Can Guide You

In addition to your lender, you’ll want to build a team of professionals who can guide you through the homebuying process. A real estate agent, a home contractor or inspector you can trust, plus a trusted friend or relative who has been down the path already can all help you as you take this exciting step in your financial life.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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