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2019 News

County Helps New Homebuyers with 5-Year, $1.6 Million Infusion

October 23, 2019

Contact: Larry R. King, 215.348.6413, lrking@buckscounty.org

Bucks County officials on Tuesday announced a five-year, $1.6 million expansion of its First Time Homebuyer Program – a monetary boost expected to help at least 150 qualified households to purchase their first homes.

The Bucks County Housing Authority will commit $325,000 per year for the next five years to provide loans for approved households to put toward closing costs and/or down payments on a first home.

“We’re going to double the size of this program … which will probably help another 150 households on top of what we’re already doing,” Robert G. Loughery, chair of the Bucks County Commissioners, said at a news conference in Doylestown. IMG_1049 (2)

Since 1994, the First Time Homebuyer Program has offered no-interest, deferred loans of up to $10,000 to people living or working in Bucks County and wishing to purchase a first home. To qualify, their households must earn less than 100 percent of the area median income – about $90,000 for a family of four.

About 720 first-time homebuyers have benefited from the program, which has invested almost $4.5 million over its first quarter-century.

Those loans have been made from Bucks County’s Housing Trust Fund, which receives a portion of fees charged by the Recorder of Deeds on home purchases. The five-year infusion of $1.625 million from the Housing Authority effectively doubles the money available for first-time homebuyer loans.

“We recognize not only how important this assistance is for first-time homebuyers, but also how vital first-time homebuyers are to the county,” said Jeffrey Fields, the county’s Director of Housing Services. “For many of these households, the purchase of their home is a step on their journey toward greater involvement and contributions to our county.” IMG_1006 (2)

Participants in the program also receive at least four hours of mandatory home ownership counseling from the Bucks County Housing Group, a federally certified housing counseling agency, to make sure the process goes smoothly.

“The counseling was hugely helpful,” said Melissa Centifonti, who used the program to help purchase her first home in Levittown two years ago. “I was able to feel confident in my budget and that I could handle all the responsibilities of buying a house and maintaining it.”

Loughery and fellow County Commissioner Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia said the county benefits from helping fledgling homeowners live and work in Bucks County, where the cost of housing can be an obstacle for those looking for a first purchase.

“It is really important to have quality housing so that you can get up every day and face the day, take care of your children, take care of a job,” Marseglia said. “I live in Levittown; it’s the affordable section of housing in Bucks County, and it has been a long time since there has been new, affordable housing. So a program like this is great, because it helps people to stay in the county.” IMG_1073 (2)

The loans are repayable in full once a first-time homebuyer sells, transfers or takes out an equity loan on the property, or when the home is no longer the owner’s primary residence.

For more information about the First Time Homebuyer’s Program, visit www.buckscounty.org/FTHB.

To learn more about applying for the program, contact the Bucks County Housing Group at 215-394-8259, visit www.bchg.org or email Housing Counseling Program Manager Sherry Pace at space@bchg.org.