Last Updated on May 1, 2023 by Luke Feldbrugge
There are two national firefighter home buying programs and they can work together. If you are a firefighter looking to buy a home, these programs are specially designed for you. Knowing how they work is a good step in the direction of finding a home.
The two programs are:
- Homes for Heroes
- Good Neighbor Next Door
Homes for Heroes Firefighter Home Buying Program
In terms of programs specific to firefighters, Homes for Heroes answers the call. We have been working for 20 years to aid firefighter home buying, as well as help to sell their current homes.
“I believe that the Homes for Heroes program is very important. I am a Detroit Fireman. My second line of work is construction, so you helped me sell the home I remodeled with my grandfather. The program meant so much to me – getting back some of my savings and then donating my proceeds to other heroes. Thank you to all the heroes for whom ‘above and beyond’ is part of every shift they work.” – Duane L. bought a home in Michigan
Homes for Heroes can provide firefighter home buying assistance in at least three ways.
- We help you find a real estate professional.
- We help you find a mortgage lender.
- We pay you Hero Rewards® when you close on your house.
That third one is important because it can help you with actual cash right after you close on your house. Some of our heroes use it for appliances, repairs, renovations, or any number of projects that emerge once you buy your first house.
There’s no catch, no fees, no extra paperwork; the process is exactly the same as a normal real estate transaction. You just receive excellent care from our real estate specialists and receive reward money at the end. Your hero status doesn’t end when you retire from firefighting. We work with both current and former firefighters.
On average, our heroes save $3,000 when using both our real estate and lending specialists. Our specialists will work to find a perfect home for you and your family. For more information, sign up today to speak with our local specialist, there is no obligation.
Good Neighbor Next Door
This is a program from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and one of its goals is to make homes more affordable for:
- Law Enforcement Officers
- Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
The houses available to the Good Neighbor candidates are reduced in price by 50%. Yes, you read that right – half off for these homes.
So what’s the catch? The homes in the Good Neighbor program are in revitalization areas as identified by HUD. That means they are in areas where:
- Household income is lower than average.
- Homeownership rate is lower than the surrounding areas.
- FHA-insured mortgage foreclosure activity is higher than surrounding areas.
These neighborhoods need economic and community development, and one way to do that is make foreclosed properties available to heroes at a deep discount. The understanding is that, if you get one of these homes, you will agree to live there for at least three years.
HUD is currently moving away from bulk sales of homes and moving toward sales to individuals. As Jake Akervik, a deputy director for HUD, puts it, “We are trying to make sure that the properties get into the hands of someone who is deserving before it goes on the general market.”
With the Good Neighbor program the properties that are going up for sale are offered first to the Good Neighbor candidates – for 7 days, before they go on the general market.
How it works
Two things should happen right away if you want to participate in the Good Neighbor Next Door program.
- Get a real estate agent who can make offers on your behalf for homes you are interested in. Things move pretty fast in this market, so once you see something, you want to be able to bid on it quickly.
- Get familiar with the website. The HUD Home Store is a search engine that helps you find HUD properties.
If you go to the Home Store, you can search for homes under the Good Neighbors program in the “buyer type” drop down menu. We tested that and didn’t come up with much. If you broaden your search to include all properties, you will get more results but those are not necessarily part of the Good Neighbor program (but you might still see something affordable).
You could, of course, come back to the site and search for properties frequently to see what comes up. If you would rather set up a search function that delivers information right to your email, that’s possible too. Getting that information delivered to you is a process that takes a few steps.
- Register in the Home Store (upper right corner, click on public)
- Give all your new login and password and email information
- Go back to home, login and conduct a search
- You can save individual properties or save “recent searches”. Even if you don’t get any results, “recent searches” is what you want. Click on that blue box.
- It will show what you’ve searched for. We tried Good Neighbor as the buyer type and Texas as the site. We clicked on the “recent searches” box and that search is identified in the popup screen.
- Click on the save button. A popup will appear listing your saved searches.
- Now go back up to the right corner of the home screen and click on “public functions.” That will take you to a screen that says you have no saved searches. Don’t believe it.
- Above the banner that says “saved property list” is a series of tabs. Locate the one that says saved searches and click it.
- Bingo. Here are your saved searches. Now go to the column that says “Alert Frequency” and click on the link that says “edit frequency”.
- Now you can set up the email alerts that will come to your inbox.
Ok, that takes a little bit of work, but you need to decide whether you want to be able to jump on a property sale or not. This up-front work could pay off in remarkable ways if you find a house through the Good Neighbor Next Door program.
While the current inventory of houses is low, the current market will probably change that. Akervik says, “I expect the foreclosure volume to go up with the current circumstances. This is as good a time as any to engage in this. If the volume goes up, there will be more properties available.”
The Good Neighbor homes are foreclosures, so some of them require some renovations and fixes. There is financing for that too. That help comes in the form of 203(k) Rehab Mortgage Insurance and it allows you to finance the purchase of a home plus any rehabilitation costs and fold them together into one mortgage. There is a Limited 203(k) for homes that require less renovation and the full 203(k) for more substantial fixer upper projects.
Homes for Heroes and HUD’s Good Neighbor Next Door Together
These firefighter home buying programs can work together. Sign up today to speak with our local Homes for Heroes specialist, there is no obligation. They will help you determine what’s available for you and your family to find the home you want and save you money in the process.