First Time Home-Buyer Down Payment Assistance

In Home Buying by Jo Garner0 Comments

You will hear about the Tennessee Housing Development Agency down payment assistance programs and other programs for home buyers. Amy Schaflein will be covering how the special $15,000 down payment assistance program works through THDA.  I will be sharing some other resources you can tap if you live outside the state of Tennessee.

What real estate topics interest YOU?   Please call me at (901) 482-0354 or shoot me an email with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject line so we can send you weekly notices of new blog posts, show notes and podcasts.  Let’s stay in touch!

To Your Success!

Jo Garner, Mortgage Loan Officer NMLS# 757308  (901) 482-0354



Good morning, Memphis!  Welcome to our listeners across the 50 states! You’re on Real Estate Mortgage Shoppe. I’m your host, Jo Garner, Mortgage Loan Officer.  You can connect with me at   Our general topic is “FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS AND DOWN PAYMENT ASSISTANCE -WITH THDA AND OTHER HELPFUL P.ROGRAMS.” Today’s show is sponsored by Joe Rojas and Grady McDonald of  Quality Title Pros –(901) 289-5821

If you have a question or comment and you’re on Twitter, make them to #JoGarner or call me directly off the show at (901) 482-0354.  You can call us while we are live at (901) 535-9732 or outside the Memphis area (800) 474-9732 Today is  June 3rd, 2017.


On this show today you will be hearing about the Tennessee Housing Development Agency down payment assistance programs and other programs for home buyers. We will be covering how the special $15,000 down payment assistance program works through THDA.  I will be sharing some other resources you can tap if you live outside the state of Tennessee.


Back in the studio again we have  Amy Schaflein. Amy serves as the Community Outreach Liaison in West Tennessee for the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. Working from Memphis, Schaftlein focuses on partnerships in West Tennessee, personally reaching out to THDA’s housing and real estate industry partners, elected officials, and non-profit agencies by listening to their needs, issues, and challenges. For the last 9 years Amy has been rolling up her sleeves and working with non –profits with one of them being United Housing.   Amy, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at Tennessee Housing Development Agency.  (Amy introduces herself and talks about THDA)


 (Jo) If deep down you have it in your heart to own your own home where your payments go toward building something for yourself and your loved ones instead of building wealth each month for your landlord, it looks like all the lights are green.  It’s time to hit the gas and go do it.  

Yesterday the jobs report disappointed investors and rates eased back down to the lowest spot for 2017. The 30-year fixed rate conventional loan came in around 4% to 4.25% and the 15 year fixed rate came in in the low 3’s.  FHA loans, Veteran Loans and the Rural Housing rates eased down too.    Jumbo loans over $424,100 are favorable.   

Not only are the mortgage rates helping borrowers comfortably afford for bigger and better homes, but there are several good down payment assistance programs ready to help.   Today we are talking specifically about Tennessee Housing Development Agency, but you can find other programs all over the country by contacting Rob Chrane at Down Payment Resource, supported by Housing Finance Agencies across the country, for assistance programs in YOUR city and state.

(Amy makes comments here and can share some of her content about THDA )


(Jo) If you were standing on a ledge at one side of the Niagra Falls, gazing far across the billowing water with only a 3-inch wide narrow steel pole between where you stood and the other side across the great falls, would you attempt to walk across the falls?  Probably not, at least not without practice.  But what if your child had lost their balance and was hanging by one arm from the beam about to drop far down into the rushing water?   Would you push past your fear and venture across the narrow beam to help your child?   In an instant, I know you would.   

What if there was suddenly someone strapping a safety net on you and you looked up to find handrails on the beam across the Niagra Falls, would you feel more confident to rush out to help your child?

In my more than 25 years experience as a mortgage loan officer, I have seen this principle played out many times with single moms or dads who have never owned a home and fear stepping outside their comfort zone to buy one. But because they love and care for their children, they seek the resources they need to get their own home in a place where their family can be happy and safe and where they can start building equity in their own home. Putting people around them like a reputable, experienced realtor and a good mortgage professsional is like having the safety harness in the earlier example.  Finding resources like the first-time homebuyer down payment assistance programs is like the handrails along the narrow beam.

Call me and let’s talk. But you have to talk with me personally so I can work with you.  You can connect with me at or call me directly at (901) 482-0354. MAKE YOUR PLAN. LET’S WORK YOUR PLAN. IF THE DEAL WORKS FOR YOU TODAY, DO IT TODAY!

(Amy makes short comments)


(Jo) Have you ever had your heart set on something very specific and you just could not muster enough money to buy it? I have a mortgage customer who had her heart set on a house in a neighborhood that was close to her friends and family.  She really, really wanted a house in that neighborhood but did not have enough money to put down to afford the note.

BUT, when THDA rolled out the special $15,000 down payment assistance program recently, I called this lady and showed her how she could afford the house she wanted by using the $15,000 to pay down the loan so the note would be low enough for her budget.   She was laughing and almost crying at the closing when she could finally get the house keys.  It was like a miracle to her.

Amy, before we go to break, tell us about the new Tennessee Housing Development Agency special $15,000 down payment assistance program. (Amy launches her topics until 9:15 break)


2nd segment after 9:15 break: Our Look Back Memphis Trivia Contest is brought to you  by notable Memphis historian, Jimmy Ogle. Jimmy Ogle offers free historic walking tours downtown in the spring and fall.  For information about Jimmy Ogle, go to .  The Look Back Memphis Trivia Contest is  sponsored by John and Jennifer Lawhon of Lawhon Landscape (901) 754-7474 the Lawhon’s can help you plan your landscaping if you have a BIG, BIG project or a smaller project . The Lawhons are giving away a $25 gift card to the first person with the correct trivia answer.  If you know the answer to our trivia question, call us at 901 535 WREC 901 535-9732.




  • What kind of home financing help does THDA offer?


  1. Who is considered a first-time homebuyer?
  2. Home buyers purchasing in target areas do not have to be first-time homebuyers.
  3. What are some of the target areas?
  4. What are the advantages of using the THDA Great Choice Loan and the Great Choice Plus Loan?
  5. The Plus loan is a 2nd mortgage up to 5% of the home’s sale price and does not have a monthly payment. It does have to be paid back if the homeowner sells the home or moves out of it.
  6. Talk about the THDA Hardest-Hit $15,000 down payment assistance program.
  7. Who qualifies for this special $15K down payment assistance?
  8. At what point will the borrower not have to pay this assistance back?
  9. Why is it important to own a home?
  10. Talk about the “Mortgage With A Heart” program
  11. THDA takes their mortgage earnings to help Tennesseans who really need help through the Housing Trust Fund.
  12. Talk about the “emergency repair program” for the elderly administered by the Southwest Development District in the Shelby County TN area.
  13. Talk about the Homebuyer Education classes.







  • What are some of the most common programs you offer first-time home buyers?


  1. Home Ready program through Fannie Mae.   You can find information for Home Ready programs anywhere in the country  by going to   (97%, income restriction by the zip code –you can find this information for your zipcode anywhere in the country at

B: Other Programs That Offer Down Payment Assistance: According to the Real Estate Today show through the National Association of Realtors, 90% to 95% of people needing down payment assistance to buy a home, do not know there are programs to help home buyers with the down payment .There are other down payment assistance programs available to first-time home buyers in Tennessee and other states other than Tennessee.  Most of them have restrictions such as not owning a home within the last 3 years, income restrictions based on the number of people in the household and the location of the property. If you want to know more, Google “Down Payment Assistance” and the name of YOUR state and you should hit the jack pot. Many metropolitan cities have their own down payment assistance programs with certain restrictions.   Memphis has the City of Memphis Down Payment Assistance Program and in addition to the regular program, they have some funds especially  for Police, Firefighters and Teachers.  But ask an experienced, reputable realtor in your area what programs THEY recommend.  They usually know what programs are good and which ones may be not so advantageous.  You can also check with Rob Chrane at Down Payment Resource, supported by Housing Finance Agencies across the country, for assistance programs in YOUR city and state.

  1. Mortgage Programs with no down payment required-  The Veteran Administration loan for eligible veterans, in most cases, is a 100% loan.  USDA Rural Housing Loans, for those borrowers who qualify under special restrictions, can get into a home with a  and
  2. What are some of the top tips you give first-time home buyers?
  3.  Determine if homeownership is right for you at the present time.   How long to you plan on staying in the geographic area? If you plan on living in the area for at least 3 years or more, you need to look into owning your home instead of paying rent.  With mortgage rates as low as they are today, you have a unique opportunity to have your mortgage payment less, in many cases, than the rent you would pay on a comparable property.   If prices on homes continue to increase at a steady rate as they are now, you could be building quite a bit of wealth for yourself instead of your landlord.   If you have listened to me long on the radio, you have heard me say, “trying to decide whether to rent or buy a home?  You’re going to make a mortgage payment either way—yours or your landlord’s.”  
  4. Know your budget limitations. Stay within those limitations with your house note.  
  5. Keep an adequate emergency fund at all times—especially right after closing on your new home.  You will have extra expenses with moving and settling into your new castle.  That is another reason why using the down payment assistance programs can be a good idea.  Some programs allow you to have a healthy amount of savings on the accounts you disclosed to the lender.  A few assistance programs will not give you the full amount of assistance if you have a hefty amount of money left in the bank account you disclosed to the lender.
  6. Get preapproved with a reputable lender BEFORE you go out looking at houses with a realtor.  Once the lender has seen your last 2 years tax returns, your W2s and 1099s for the last 2 years and your latest paystub, you can feel fairly confident they are calculating your income correctly.  Be sure and disclose to the lender debts that may not show up right away on the credit report. Allow the lender to review the last 2 months bank statements.   The last thing you want is to fall in love with a nice big home only to have your hopes and dreams dashed when you discover that you cannot qualify to purchase it.   The other advantage to having a strong preapproval letter is the competitive edge it gives you if you are making your offer on a house along with others with competing offers.  There are some sellers who are looking for the surest deal, not necessarily the highest price.  Let’s talk about your plans to buy YOUR home.  Let’s review your income, asset and credit information and get you a STRONG preapproval letter so you can get some bragging rights on your financing and the house that you will be proud to own. Call me personally at (901) 482-0354 after the show (901) 482-0354 or email me at   Let me be on your home buying journey with you.  MAKE YOUR PLAN, WORK YOUR PLAN.  IF THE DEAL WORKS FOR YOU TODAY, DO IT TODAY.

REAL ESTATE TIP OF THE WEEK (Amy has about 1 minute to share a real estate related money-saving or time-saving tip):


Talk Shoppe offers free networking & education to anyone interested in real estate or in business. Talk Shoppe meets every Wednesday 9A-10A CT Nova Copy Conference Center 7251 Appling Farms Parkway Memphis, TN  This Wednesday June 7th, 2017 Talk Shoppe  presents Mark McLaurine of Top Quality Service to talk about  “Your Air-Conditioner-How to Keep The Temp And The Utility Bill Low This Summer.” 

Talk Shoppe events are free thanks to sponsors like Lynn McDonald, insurance agent with Erin McDonald Agency.  Lynn is a top producer who keeps her insurance customers top priority.  Lynn even shows up at the title office at her customers’ home closings with homemade cookies.  Lynn takes the extra time to find the right coverage at the right price  (901) 849-7101

Thank to Talk Shoppe advertiser Mary Jane Lessley of Signs Now at 4945 American Way in Memphis. (901) 368-0784  Direct YOUR customers to YOUR business.

Amy to announce the June 6th event in Orange Mound in partnership with Shelby County Trustees and RedZone Ministries. It is a Youth Financial Education Day event

Thank you for Joe Rojas and Grady McDonald of Quality Title Pro for sponsoring Real Estate Mortgage Shoppe today.  For your home purchase or refinance in Tennessee or Mississippi, contact Joe Rojas at (901) 289-5821.


Real Estate Mortgage Shoppe reminds you that IF THE DEAL WORKS FOR YOU TODAY, DO IT TODAY.




Leah Anne Morse- Cartridge World of Collierville. Save over 30% on your printing costs by using the latest technology in used cartridges. (901) 853-3230

Billy Nickol of Geiger Company   Billy has a variety of promotional products to help put you and your company brand front of mind.  If Billy doesn’t have it –you don’t need it.  (901) 233-1487

Pat Goldstein, Realtor with Crye-Leike, Realtors  (901) 606-2000   Pat has over 30 years experience and can help you buy or sell your home in Tennessee or Mississippi.   



ABOUT AMY SCHAFTLEIN, Tennessee Housing Development Agency

Amy Schaftlein serves as the Community Outreach Liaison in West Tennessee for the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. Working from Memphis, Schaftlein focuses on partnerships in West Tennessee, personally reaching out to THDA’s housing and real estate industry partners, elected officials, and non-profit agencies by listening to their needs, issues, and challenges. Schaftlein has her Masters in Urban Anthropology and Political Science from the University of Memphis. She has a passion for housing policy, and financial education. She also brings over 8 years of housing experience to her role. She served as the Development Director for United Housing, Inc., as the Research Associate with the University Neighborhoods Development Corporation, and Research Assistant at the Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action. Amy Schaftlein may be contacted at 901-208-9071 or


About Jo Garner

cell: (901) 482 0354


  Twitter: @jogarner

Jo describes her job description: As a mortgage loan officer, my job is to give my client the benefits they want from their financing terms– listening to my client and determine what’s of the most value to THEM–  What is their comfort level on a house payment, how much are they comfortable paying down, what type of financing do they need to get the house they want to buy or refinance. Different clients have different priorities in life—some are buying their first home with very little down payment funds.  Some are recovering from medical challenges, divorces or preparing to send children to college and some are embarking on a long term goal of buying properties to build rental income. Whatever their personal priorities are, my job is to put together a mortgage with comfortable terms that will help them achieve their goals.”

Jo Garner is a mortgage officer with extensive knowledge in tailoring mortgages to her customers who are refinancing or purchasing homes all over the country.  She offers conventional, FHA, VA or other loan programs for refinancing and purchases.  

Jo can help you look at rent vs buy, when it makes sense to refinance, how to get the best deal on your home  purchase financing.   

Jo Garner  has been in the real estate/financing business for over 20 years.  She got her start in Portland, Maine where she first began her real estate career. She received her real estate education from the University of Southern Maine  and was personally mentored in San Diego, California  by Robert G. Allen, author of Nothing Down, Creating Wealth and The Challenge. 

On moving back to West Tennessee in 1987, she went into business buying and selling discounted owner-financed notes secured on real estate.  In 1990 Jo went to work for a residential mortgage company and has been a mortgage loan officer for over 20 years.  Her goal is to offer excellent, affordable service to her customers, tailoring the loan programs to the specific needs of her clients.  

In addition to her work in the mortgage field, Jo Garner  is the primary sponsor and founder of Talk Shoppe in Memphis.  Jo is host of Real Estate Mortgage Shoppe  and currently publishes on h

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