Owning a Home

Homeownership can have many advantages for a person with a disability.  A home you or someone else owns on your behalf can give you a permanent place to live.  Homeownership can be more affordable than renting if you don’t have a rent subsidy.  The home can be modified to meet your needs, and homeowners can take advantage of grant and low-cost loan programs to help pay for accessibility modifications and modernization.   

Homeownership has some requirements that should be considered carefully before deciding to purchase a home.  A homeowner is responsible for upkeep of the house and property.  All maintenance and repairs must be paid for by the homeowner.  If you have a home with a yard, you are responsible for cutting the grass, mulching, removing leaves and dead branches, and removing snow from sidewalks and the driveway.  The cost of regular home maintenance and repair plus any upgrades you want to do, such as replacing appliances, flooring etc. Can be high and homeowners need to set aside money to pay for upkeep in addition to paying the mortgage, interest and taxes.   

Information on purchasing and selling a home in Maryland can be found at:  https://www.marylandhomeownership.com/ 

Housing Counseling

Because homeownership is a more involved process, it is recommended that first-time home buyers attend housing counseling classes.  These classes are usually free or low cost, and help people understand the home purchasing process and long-term ownership considerations. 

What is housing counseling? A certified housing counselor is a person specially trained to assist individuals and households with their financial matters. Housing counselors can assist in the areas of buying, preventing foreclosure, and refinancing homes. 

Housing Counseling subject matter can include budgeting, savings, spending, debt, and credit. Unlike servicers, loan officers, brokers or other real estate professional representatives, a housing counselor offers independent advisement.  Housing counseling services are generally offered with nominal or no cost to the client. Most agencies are supported by HUD and state housing finance agencies, local governments, as well a private philanthropy. Foreclosure counseling and counseling services for homeless persons are offered free of charge through HUD’s Housing Counseling Program.   

Many home buying down payment and closing cost assistance programs require a Homeownership Counseling Certificate from an approved agency before making an offer on a home. A certificate requires in-person or on-line group home buyer education and a one-on-one counseling session with a counselor to discuss a person’s particular circumstance. Certificates are good for one year. Approved Housing Counseling agencies in Maryland can be found by visiting:  US Department of Housing and Urban Development  

Realtors 

A realtor is a person or agency that is licensed to assist people with searching for and purchasing a home.  Realtors also assist people with selling their home.  A realtor assists the home buyer with making an offer to purchase a home, guides the buyer through the pre-purchase process including home inspection, selecting a title company etc., and assists the buyer during the settlement process.   

For information on working with a real estate professional, go to    https://mmp.maryland.gov/Pages/Real-Estate-Agents.aspx:   

The website below offers advice to people who are looking to purchase a home that is physically accessible:  https://marylandeliterealtors.com/wheelchair-accessible-housing/

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Mortgage Programs 

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has mortgage programs for qualifying buyers, including programs for first-time home buyers and people with disabilities.   

Maryland Mortgage Program 

The Maryland Mortgage Program (MMP) provides 30-year fixed-rate home loans to eligible homebuyers purchasing in Maryland. Loan terms are competitive with other home loan products on the market, but what makes MMP unique is the range of associated financial incentives and other assistance that, for many homebuyers, means the difference between being able to purchase and continuing to rent. MMP down payment assistance can only be obtained with an MMP first mortgage; it is not a standalone option.​ 

The Maryland Mortgage Program 

HomeAbility Mortgage Program for People with Disabilities

HomeAbility is a special product designed to assist Maryland homebuyers with disabilities to finance their home purchase. This is a Conventional Loan product and provides an 80% Loan to Value (LTV) first lien and up to 25% in a second lien to assist with down payment and closing costs. No mortgage insurance is required. The interest rate for the first lien is posted on the Interest Rates page​; the second lien has a rate of 0% and payment is deferred for the life of the first lien, but becomes payable upon sale, refinance, or transfer of the home.​​​ To be eligible for the HomeAbility program, one of the borrowers has disabilities OR one of the borrowers is a guardian for, resides with, and is the principal caregiver for an immediate family member who is disabled (regardless of age).   

Maryland HomeAbility
mmp.Maryland.gov  

Conventional Mortgages

People with disabilities can also purchase a home with a conventional mortgage loan.  These loans are offered by many banks and other financial institutions.  Different financial institutions may have different mortgage products and interest rates.  For a general guide to obtaining a mortgage, visit: 
Here’s how to get a mortgage  

Home Purchase through a Special Needs Trust 

Many families with a loved one who has a disability have created a “special needs trust” to help manage the financial needs of their loved one.  The issue of housing is often part of the planning through a special needs trust.  Some families would prefer that the loved one continue to live in the family home, while others wish to plan for their loved one to have a different home.  In addition, families are likely to consider the options of their loved one renting vs owning a home.   

The Arc US has prepared information to assist families with these considerations.  Go to the website below to learn more. 

Home Purchase by Family

A family may have the resources to purchase a home for their loved one with a disability or to allow the person to continue to live in their home when they move to another place.  It is important that the impact of the family assistance with room and board costs on SSI income be understood and considered.  Remember that the “presumed maximum value” of assistance with room and board will be about 1/3 of the SSI check.