For Realtors

Winnebago Homebuyer Program staff working with a homebuyer and Realtor at closing. (2015)

The Winnebago Homebuyer Program provides financial assistance to make successful homeownership a possibility for low and moderate income families that qualify. Assistance through the program is available only in Winnebago County. Funding is available for downpayment, downpayment plus rehab, and rehab (this guide does not review existing owner-occupied rehab programming - visit the Rehab Page for additional information on owner).

The Winnebago Homebuyer Program also purchases and rehabs a limited number of homes each year which are resold to qualified homebuyers. The program is also a major partner with the local Habitat for Humanity programs operating in the county.

Qualifying Family: Families must meet income restrictions while fulfilling program requirements prior to moving forward with an approval notice. When determining qualifying income, the program adds the gross income of all household members. The income restrictions are the following (subject to annual change):
#in home     --     Income limit
1    --     $39,300                         4    --     $56,100
2    --     $44,900                         5    --     $60,600
3    --     $50,500                         6    --     $65,100
For larger household numbers, add $5,600.00 per household member.

Income-qualifying families must complete the followings steps to receive approval:
1. Complete the Homebuyer Application and attend an individual intake meeting with the program.
2. Complete a 6 hour HUD qualifying homebuyer certification course and a one on one home financial assessment with FISC.
3. Meet minimum lending standards, including: current on debt obligations, minimum credit score of 580, maximum allowable monthly debt obligation of 8-12% of gross monthly income.
4. Household must invest a minimum $1500 - $3500 depending upon home purchase cost. Homebuyer must also have a non-vested savings account balance equivalent to one-month living expenses (typically between $1500 and $3000). Many homebuyers invest more than the minimum.
5. Homebuyers are limited to spending 30% of their gross monthly income on PITI minus a $50 maintenance savings.

Qualifying Home: Homes that are purchased with funding support through the Winnebago Homebuyer Program must meet health and safety standards either prior to purchase or through post-purchase obligated rehab. Homes are also inspected for affordability concerns including an aging furnace, water heater, roof and appliances. Homes must also qualify according to State of Wisconsin funding requirements including restrictions on proximity to flood zones, high-traffic locations, and historic preservation.

The home with an accepted offer will be inspected by program staff and often by a municipal inspector. Inspections will reveal rehab needs with estimated costs. If the costs of rehab plus purchase costs fit within reasonable affordability and cost/benefit levels, the buyer will move forward with a certified home inspection. Required work may be completed by seller, by a partner municipality, or coordinated through the Winnebago Homebuyer Program.

Financing: Assistance ranges from $4000 - $16,000, with the average amount provided of $11,000. Funding amount is variable based upon individual homebuyer needs. Funding is available as a 0% deferred loan, with repayment due at time of sale, transfer of possession, or no longer utilized as primary residence. Funds are secured with a secondary mortgage and note. Many transactions also include additional funding support including FHLB Downpayment Plus, municipal CDBG funds, and other downpayment and rehab support.

"I am a Realtor and I have a homebuyer who needs financing help. I should..." promptly have the homebuyer complete the Winnebago Homebuyer Application. If timing is short, help make sure the homebuyer has all of the Documentation Needed for the program. By providing all of the information up front, it will save processing time. The sooner you can get the process started with the Winnebago Homebuyer Program, the better.