HUD Section 184 program sees increase in funding

BY STACIE BOSTON
Multimedia Reporter
08/10/2020 09:00 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The recent increase in the HUD Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program by county now allows Native Americans access to more money when looking to buy, build or refinance a current home. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Brandon Caruso
TULSA – With a recent increase of funds by county in the HUD Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program, those looking to buy, build or refinance a home now have more wiggle room to do so.

Brandon Caruso, Today Lending vice president of loan operations and Cherokee Nation citizen, said he was surprised to see the increase especially in the wake of the pandemic.

“It was really a welcomed surprise and we’re happy to see it,” he said. “We’ve already been getting some calls on it.”

Caruso said the program, which is designed for Native Americans, offers the ability to purchase, build or refinance a home at a cheaper cost by offering a lower down payment percentage and lower private mortgage insurance percentage. He said overall, this means a “cheaper monthly payment.”

Caruso said the adjustment, which was implemented in July, “mostly affected” urban areas such as Denver; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Los Angeles.

“In the past, what has happened is the average cost of the home is more than what the program would allow for. So, what they’ve done is they’ve increased the threshold,” he said. “You really couldn’t find a home (in Los Angeles) for $450,000, and now they’ve raised it to about $700,000 so it really opens it up for our Cherokee citizens in LA (Los Angeles) County.”

While the increase has allowed more people in urban areas to use the program, Caruso said it also had a positive impact for those in Oklahoma, especially those living in the Tulsa area.
“You can find homes in Oklahoma for $200,000 or even less, but if you’re in Tulsa the average cost of housing might be low $300,000s,” he said. “It just becomes more competitive.”

Caruso said the increase in loan amounts all comes back to more accessibility.

“There’s nothing forcing somebody to purchase a higher cost home, but you’re kind of limited to what the market is going for,” he said. “If there’s some great Native American programs out there it really behooves Native Americans to participate as long as they can. So opening up those doors to meeting the average cost of living, I think really just helps that homeowner.”

Caruso said the program is not income based and applicants do not have to be first-time homebuyers. He added that the program looks at several factors, including credit and housing history.

“The big items that are assessed are going to be your credit history, your appointment history and then your living history, which would include rent or a previous mortgage. From there, it’s case-by-case, but those are going to be the three big ones to calculate what you’re eligible for and what your affordability looks like,” he said.

Nine times out of 10, Caruso said, the Section 184 loan will be the best option. He said it is not “one size fits all” and borrowers should look at other options to make sure it’s the “right fit.”

“Most of the time this will be the cheapest option,” he said. “The times that it may not be is if our Native Americans are also veterans. The VA (Veterans Affairs) program is fantastic.”

While taking the first steps in home buying can be daunting, Caruso said it is best to seek guidance from a loan officer or the borrower’s tribe.

“Somebody that can look over your finances and credit and that way you can start that conversation and creating the roadmap into getting into a home. I see a lot of folks’ misstep and speak with realtors or even go look at houses before just to find out that they had roadblocks that they need to take care of first,” he said.

For information, email Brandon@TodayLending.com, call 918-582-7283 or visit nativefornative.com.

Click here to view the increase in funding by county in each state.
About the Author

stacie-boston@cherokee.org • 918-453-5269

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