After much discussion over the course of three Big Bear Lake City Council meetings, Council’s Improvement Agency last night came to consensus—or at least a unanimous vote—in favor of the implementation of the First-Time Homebuyer Down Payment Assistance Program. Though some Council members had expressed concern about the 10-year loan forgiveness timeframe—as, earlier, three-to-five year and seven year commitments had been discussed—Improvement Agency Chair Liz Harris explained that the longer commitment by homeowners would provide for more stability, less turnover, and “a healthier thing for our town,” as these residents would be spending their money in, and contributing to, our community. As Councilmember Bill Jahn reasoned, “These are not our dollars, these are not corporate dollars, they’re taxpayer dollars and we need to build in that protection. It’s not like they’re locked in for 10 years and can’t move, they just have to pay it back.” Components of the First-Time Homebuyer Down Payment Assistance Program, as drafted by the City’s Redevelopment Director Lyle Haynes, are that low-to-moderate income households would be eligible (a two-person household would need to earn between roughly $42,000 and $62,000) though would need to qualify for a 30-year mortgage, and must live in the to-be-acquired residence; home eligibility is contingent on location within Big Bear Lake with a maximum purchase price of $380,000, and home must be a foreclosure or short-sale property, or listed for a minimum of six months. The benefits, as funded by the IA’s Low and Moderate Income Housing Fund, would be an advance of up to 5% of purchase price (or $19,000, whichever is lower); this down-payment loan is forgiven if owner does not sell, refinance or transfer title within 10 years. More information on Big Bear Lake’s homebuyer assistance program will soon be available from the City of Big Bear Lake or from local realtors.
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