Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What services does the Portland Housing Center offer?
A: The Portland Housing Center offers classes that prepare our customers for homeownership. We also provide one-on-one home buying counseling, and financial services such as mortgage loans, a down payment assistance program, and a matched savings program. We also work with clients to preserve homeownership after the purchase of their home.
Q: How do I register for Portland Housing Center services?
A: The Portland Housing Center registration process requires a potential customer to register online, or print out the registration form (in English or Spanish), fill it out, and mail or bring it in to our office. Registration also requires a non-refundable fee of $65. A Portland Housing Center staff member will then review the client’s documents and invite the client in to review options, appropriate services, and products.
Q: How can I find out about Portland Housing Center services?
A: The Portland Housing Center holds free, drop-in orientations at our offices at 3233 NE Sandy Blvd. in Portland on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month. No need to register. Click here for more information.
Q: Where can I find out about money to buy a house?
A: At the Portland Housing Center! Financial assistance to buy your first home can take several forms: grants, assistance in the form of low rate loans, and matched savings programs. The availability of these programs changes periodically.
Q: Does access to mortgage loans even exist now?
A: Yes. The Portland Housing Center is ready to use our resources to help you get your new home.We helped 393 households last year purchase their first home. Every day a Portland Housing Center customer is buying a home somewhere in the Portland metro area.
Q: Isn’t 20% down required to get a mortgage loan?
A: No. The Portland Housing Center has down payment assistance programs that make 100% financing an option. Also, government-sponsored loan programs can require as little as 3.5% down, and loans are available with a 95% loan-to-value. We’ll help you evaluate what you can borrow, and connect you to the loan program that makes sense for you.
Q: Don’t I need top-notch credit to qualify for a mortgage loan program?
A: Though the industry overall has tightened credit criteria, our lending practices have not dramatically changed. Talk to us and see where you stand. If your credit is a challenge, the Portland Housing Center will work with you to help improve it, increasing your options and eligibility for a mortgage loan that meets your home-buying needs.
Q: Are down payment assistance programs still available?
A: Yes. The Portland Housing Center has down payment assistance programs that range from a matched savings grant program (the Individual Development Account, or IDA) to the Mortgage Assistance Program. That means 100% financing is still an option for Portland Housing Center customers.
Q: What is the Individual Development Account (IDA) or Matched Savings Program?
A: The IDA program helps eligible buyers save for down payment and/or closing costs. To be eligible borrowers must be at or below 80% of the Portland area median income, complete the Financial Fitness class and schedule an appointment to discuss eligibility. Please call (503) 282-7744 for more information.
Q: Interest rates right now are too high to buy a house. Why shouldn’t I wait to get into the market?
A: Actually, now is a great time to buy or refinance a home. Mortgage interest rates are the lowest they’ve been since the government began tracking them.
Q: I thought the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan programs were being phased out. Are they?
A:No. In fact, the FHA programs are better than ever, and now have expanded lending guidelines. More than 80% of Portland Housing Center customers use FHA loans to purchase their homes.
Q: How do I order a new credit report?
A: When you register, Portland Housing Center will obtain your credit report as part of your initial home buyer assessment. If you ask us to do so while participating in our program, we will obtain another copy of the report. However, we will charge you for the cost associated with obtaining the new report.
Q: How do I make a home buying counseling appointment?
A:The first step is registering for the Portland Housing Center’s HomeBuying program. The Portland Housing Center will then assign you a HomeBuying Specialist who’ll get in touch to set up an appointment at a time convenient for you. We offer daytime, some Saturday, and Thursday evening appointments.
Q: Does the Portland Housing Center work with lenders and Realtors™?
A: Yes. The Portland Housing Center has a panel of “Participating Lenders and Realtors™.” These are financial and real estate professionals who have been thoroughly screening by the Portland Housing Center. All panel members have demonstrated a passion for working with the Portland Housing Center’s first-time buyers.
Q: Where can I get a list of the Portland Housing Center Participating Lenders & Realtors™?
A: The list is available here».
Q: How do I get a certificate showing that I’ve completed the HomeBuying 101 class?
A: We do not provide customers with certificates. Once you complete the class, and are in the loan process, we’ll gladly fax a copy of the certificate to your loan officer. Please feel free to refer your loan officer to our Program Assistant at (503) 282-7744 x101. She will then provide your lender with a copy of the certificate.
Q: How can a professional become a Portland Housing Center Partner?
A: Portland Housing Center collaborates with select lenders, real estate agents, and home inspectors. We have the highest quality standards for our partners, and reserve our partner relationship for professionals who can demonstrate that they are committed first-time home buyer experts who will take the time to meet the needs of our buyers. Please email questions about Portland Housing Center Partners to the Deputy Director, or call her at (503) 282-7744 x116.