Owning a Home
updated September 22, 2017

Homeownership is an option for anybody who wants to own their home and can afford it. Many people with low-to-moderate income can own a home with the right support and planning.

What It Is

With homeownership, an individual or family lives in a home that they have bought. A home can be in any neighborhood, town, or city that you like and can afford. A couple of important differences between owning a home and renting are that you have to buy a home and you have to take care of it yourself.

When you own a home, you can get help with cooking, cleaning, personal care assistance, skilled nursing, or other services if you need them. Many people with disabilities and seniors like staying in their homes and paying for these services instead of moving to a nursing home, Adult Foster Care facility, or any other type of shared living situation.

There are even programs that can help pay for these services if you have low income and assets. For example, Medical Assistance (MA) may help you pay for personal care assistance.

Note: When public programs like MA look at your assets to see if you qualify, they will not include the value of your home. So you can own a home and still get public benefits that have low asset limits, if you otherwise qualify.

How You Pay

To own a home, you will probably need to make two kinds of payments:

  • An initial payment called the down payment, and
  • Ongoing payments to the lender where you got your mortgage loan. Mortgage loans are often paid off over the course of 15 to 30 years. Your payments will help repay the purchase cost of the home as well as the interest that the lender charges.
    • Note: Interest rates can change over time and you may be able to refinance your loan to save money.

Various programs can help you with your payments:

  • Section 8 Homeownership Program:
    • A Section 8 voucher helps pay for your monthly mortgage. If you buy a home through this program, you pay about 30% of your family’s monthly income towards your mortgage.
  • Loan Programs:
    • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are insured by the federal government and can help you buy with a lower down payment.
    • 208 loans let you take out a mortgage greater than the home’s value, so you can make accessibility modifications to it.
    • VA loans are for military veterans.
    • Many programs help people buying their first home.
  • Tax Credits and Rebates:
    • Different credits and rebates can help homeowners save money on their taxes.
  • Down Payment Programs:
    • Some local governments and some lenders help people with their down payments.
  • Individual Development Accounts (IDAs):
    • These accounts let people with low income and low assets save up some money to buy a home.
  • Foreclosure Help:

Finding a Home

To find a home to buy, use a realtor (also called a “real estate agent”). You can do some research on your own online, but to buy a place, you’ll need this professional help.

A realtor should:

  • Know about first-time buyer programs
  • Connect you with a lender or loan program, and
  • Help you find a home that meets your needs.

If you have a disability, make sure to find a realtor who is sensitive and responsive to your situation and needs. Ask your friends and family members if they can recommend a realtor.