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Thousands of dollars for potential home buyers in Shelby County puts first digs in reach

"We felt that a change was needed being that the home prices has soared to the degree that they have," said Israel Henry, finance manager of the program.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A seller's market is making the home buying process a little more difficult these days.

Down payment assistance through a Shelby county loan program is putting home ownership in reach for buyers who qualify and there are new changes for the old program.

Buying a new home these days means you're going to foot the bill on closing costs. It wasn't always that way, the Down Payment Assistance Program (DPA) through the county's Office of Housing is loaning more money that ever before to eligible buyers in the door of a home of their own.

Kaia Augustus purchased her home a little more that a year ago. She asked her real estate agent about the possibility of not paying any money down.

It was the magic question and her lender had just the program for her and more good news from her agent.

"She said your down payment is going to be like 92-cents. She said basically zero down," said Augustus.

The Shelby County down payment assistance loan did the trick.

"I could have just started crying. Like those was the words I wanted to hear," said Augustus.  

Augustus took advantage of the first iteration of the loan program, which offered up to $3,500 to qualified applicants.

New applicants as of July 1st can now get up to $6,000.

"We felt that a change was needed being that the home prices has soared to the degree that they have," said Israel Henry is the finance manager of the program.

He says home ownership was becoming more un-attainable in the Shelby County.

"So of course when home prices go up you can expect more down payment to be needed" said Henry.

Wonda McGowan, President of the Memphis Chapter of the National Association of Rea Estate Brokers says the loan comes with a lowered 3% interest rate at 15 years to pay back, energizing the local real estate market.

"This is exciting news," said McGowan.

She knows in a market where it's the seller who usually pays 3-percent of the closing costs this is a big help.

"To know this is a burden lifted off homeowners where their not stretching their pocket," said McGowan.

If you're in the market for a house ask your lender about requirements for the assistance program.