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Wilmington promotes more home ownership within city

Brad Glazier
Delaware Public Media

A new program to help Wilmington homebuyers and promote more home ownership in the city is set to start in the summer.

The Wilmington First Start Home Ownership Down Payment and Settlement Assistance Program will help eligible homebuyers with loans to assist with down payments or settlement costs in Wilmington.

The program is for people who have less than 80% of the HUD median income which is at $75,600 right now for a family of four.

Wilmington City Councilwoman Linda Gray sponsored the legislation that passed in council earlier this month, and she says it’s for homebuyers who need help with down payments.

"This program will give you up to $15,000 toward a down payment settlement. Most people realize that is the most difficult thing to come up with when you want to purchase a home is a down payment settlement. So this will help first time homebuyers and people who are on the verge and really don't have the money as a down payment."

Wilmington City Councilwoman Maria Cabrera says she benefitted from a similar program to purchase a home – and believes this will lead to more home ownership in the city.

"By having this program here in Wilmington I really firmly believe that it is an incentive for people to buy in Wilmington, and we do want to encourage more home buying in our city," Cabrera said.

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki signed the legislation into law on February 4.

The legislation goes into effect on July 1.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Homebuyer must not have owned their principal residence at any point in the three years prior to settlement except that single parents who have not owned their principal residence in the year prior to settlement shall be eligible
  • Homebuyer must have at least $1,000 to contribute towards settlement costs
  • Homebuyer must intend for the property to serve as their principal place of residence
  • Homebuyer must complete a homeownership counseling program with a HUD-certified counselor before signing a sales contract or applying for a mortgage
  • All purchase money lenders must be approved by the Department of Real Estate and Housing;
  • An American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) home inspection must be completed on all properties, and all major defects identified by the inspection must be repaired by a licensed contractor prior to closing;
  • New construction homes must have a one-year HUD-approved warranty
  • A visual assessment for lead-based paint must be conducted on all homes built prior to 1978. Repairs must be completed according to HUD guidelines
  • Homebuyer’s income cannot exceed 80% of the median income based upon family size for New Castle County as defined annually by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.