ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — HomeLIFT, a program that offers a path to homeownership through lending assistance and financial counseling, on Tuesday highlighted some its successes in Albuquerque, an effort that was hailed by Mayor Richard Berry, bankers and other community leaders.
HomeLIFT last year provided $15,000 down-payment grants and other funding, which led to 221 new home purchases throughout the city, said Michael Loftin, executive director of Homestart, the statewide nonprofit that partnered with Wells Fargo and the city of Albuquerque to inject $4.7 million in home down payments to purchasers whose household incomes averaged $39,000. The program, which is offered throughout the U.S., aims to help a similar number of future homeowners in 2017, said Loftin.
LIFT down payments convert to equity after five years when they are forgiven, he said.
Before they receive the grants, prospective home buyers attend classes that are geared to building strong financial habits, Loftin said. They work on paying bills on time, putting money away in savings and improving credit scores so they are good candidates for home loans.
In Albuquerque, the program spurred about $31 million in home purchase financing in 2016, Loftin said. That money benefits real estate agents, title companies, home inspectors and other players along the home buying continuum.
Ricardo Mimbela and Claudia Saucedo said the HomeLIFT program made a huge difference for them as they were tiring of apartment living and their real estate agent told them about the program.
In September 2016, they acquired their desired property in the South Valley, a home that is convenient to both their jobs, said Mimbela, who works for a freight company. Saucedo is a teaching assistant for Albuquerque Public Schools. Their eight-month-old son, Adriel, has a nursery all to himself in the four-bedroom, 2-1/2-bathroom home that Mimbela said is the perfect fit for his family.
After sprucing up the indoors, they are looking forward to painting the home this summer with the help of friends and family.