Some of the best loan programs in TN are right under our noses, and THDA loans (TN Housing Development Agency) are one of them. A few reasons why there isn't a ton of press about these great loans is because 1) not all TN lenders can do them, 2) THDA loans tend to be smaller loan sizes (on average) and coupled with the limitation on allowable fees , many loan officers who could do them choose not to, and 3) many loan officers do not offer them because they believe that THDA loans are a lot harder to get closed, which is not true at all as long as they know the program guidelines . For brevity's sake, this article will provide an overview for the THDA program rather than detail each of the 3 loans THDA offers (Great Rate, Great Advantage, and Great Start).
The THDA loan programs were designed to offer help to low to average income buyers in TN seeking to purchase an affordable home. Here are the main things to know about THDA loans:
- These loans can be used only for primary residences in TN from one to four units
- the loans are always 30 year terms with fixed rates.
- the borrower must qualify for an FHA, USDA Rural Development, or VA loan program before the loan can "become" a THDA subsidized loan program. The vast majority of THDA loans are FHA, since FHA loans have the broadest in eligibility requirements. Minimum credit score for any THDA loan is 620 as of right now.
- THDA loans can effectively make FHA loans near-100% or 100% financing when combined with available THDA grant money, a "community" 2nd mortgage program like the Housing Fund, or THDA's "Stimulus" 2nd mortgage program.
- THDA loans are made generally to first time buyers (including people who haven't owned a home in 3 years); the exception to this rule is when a buyer is purchasing in a "targeted" county ; for example, middle TN "targeted" counties include Cannon, Clay, Dekalb, Franklin, Giles, Grundy, Hickman, Houston, Jackson, Lawrence, Lincoln, Macon, Marion, Maury, Stewart, Trousdale, Van Buren, Wayne, and White.
- THDA essentially sets its own subsidized or below-market rates, which are dependent on how much grant assistance one might need. There are 3 basic loan types: Great Rate (0% assistance), Great Advantage (2% assistance), and Great Start (4% assistance)
- Since THDA loans are intended for "modest" homes, properties must meet eligibility requirements ; for example, the sales price cannot exceed the county's limit. There are only 2 limits in the whole state of TN- either $ 226,100 or $ 200,160 (these limits are actually fairly liberal by TN's standards). The counties which have the higher limit are the following counties: Cannon, Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Hickman, Macon, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, Williamson, and Wilson. All other counties in TN fall under the lower limit.
- the household income of the borrower (s) cannot exceed the median income limit for the county, based on the number of persons in the household; for example, in Davidson County (Nashville), for a 1-2 person household, the total household income limit is $ 64,900 right now. For a 3+ person household, the limit is $ 74,635. The lowest limit in TN is $ 54,500 for 1-2 persons and $ 62,675 for a 3+ person household.
- THDA loans limit origination fees to 1% and discount points to.25%, which simply protects the buyer from getting overcharged. And since all THDA rates are the same regardless of the lender used, the main things a borrower needs to do is to make sure they feel the loan officer knows this program well, and that they feel comfortable working with that person.
- a homebuyer education class is strongly encouraged on the Great Rate program, and required for the Great Advantage and Great Start programs; this class (if applicable) must be completed prior to the purchase, and must be done in-person. It only makes sense for these subsidized loan programs that borrowers know what they are getting into, how to budget, etc. The last thing THDA wants is for a borrower to lose their home.
- All THDA loans are subject to a federal recapture tax provision if the purchased home is sold within the first 9 years. This tax sounds much worse than it is, though. A very small percentage of people have to worry about this, and even if they do, it's typically because their income or home value have gone up a good bit since the purchase. That's certainly not a bad thing!
THDA loans are a great way for first time buyers in TN in get into a home with little to nothing down, with a low interest rate and reasonable payment. Just knowing some of the basics of the program will hopefully help you know if you might be a good candidate for a THDA loan before you even speak with a lender.