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Municipal program offers mortgage assistance to Boston buyers

Readers may not have known about an incentive home buying program offered by the city of Boston.

Specifically, prospective buyers who have completed two classes offered by the Boston Department of Neighborhood Development may qualify for financial assistance toward the purchase of a family home or condo. In fact, buyers may receive up to $20,000 toward their down payment and closing costs. Assistance may also be available for the purchase and repair of a foreclosed property, with up to $10,000 applied in each category. 

Certain restrictions also apply. For example, the classes must be completed prior to the closing. In addition, a prospective buyer must not own any other property, at least at the time of purchase, nor have a household income over 120 percent of the area median income. That income ceiling is set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

However, an attorney that focuses on residential real estate might observe that the municipal program is not a substitute for legal advice. In fact, city officials are generally prohibited from offering legal advice or acting in a way that would create an attorney-client relationship.

An attorney's eye is often needed to catch potential issues in the fine print. For example, not every mortgage lender participates in the Boston DND's program. In addition, although a prospective buyer's creditor report might have allowed him or her to obtain a pre-qualification letter from a lender, there is still no guarantee of favorable purchase agreement terms. An attorney can help a prospective buyer in such negotiations and provide assistance in a wide range of residential real estate matters, such as mortgage financing, title examinations and land use and zoning issues.

Source: Boston Department of Neighborhood Development, "Financial Assistance"

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