State pays up to 22% to buyers of foreclosed homes in Arizona

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PHOENIX -- The Arizona Department of Housing is sponsoring a program that allows people to purchase foreclosed homes with assistance from the government.

The program known as Your Way Home has helped hundreds of people buy foreclosed properties in Arizona and at a recent auction, it meant they didn't have to compete with the pros.

"I knew, of course, that there wouldn't be investor competition, which has just really been the pain in the whole program," one buyer said. "I mean, you can't go anywhere without that."

A live auction is one of the ways the Housing Department is trying to boost sales of foreclosed properties. With 140 homes on the auction block next month, the department is urging people to take advantage of the program before it runs out in September.

Arizona was given a share of $121 million to do something about our foreclosures, which have been as many as 5,000 a month since 2009.

The idea is to stabilize some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods through several different programs.

"If you find a house that the bank has taken back and nobody lives in it and you'd like to buy it, this program will help," said Reginald Givens with the Arizona Department of Housing.

Givens said it helps by putting up money that will eventually be forgiven if the homeowners live up to their side of the bargain.

"You get 22 percent of the purchase price of the home," he said. "For example, if you're buying a house that is $200,000 and you qualify for this program, you could get ... $44,000 to help you buy the house."

Not everyone qualifies for the government's help. There are several requirements and a formula for qualified buyers. For instance, they can't earn more than 120 percent of the area's median income.

In Maricopa County, Givens said a family of four could earn as much as $79,100 and qualify for the program.

Lance Sullivan and his wife took advantage of the new program to buy a house in Avondale at the last auction.

"It does actually feel like you won a prize," he said. "In this particular case, you're buying a house. You win it at an auction for less than what it's worth."

That's in addition to the 22 percent from Your Way Home, but to make sure buyers understand what they're getting into they have to go through financial counseling.

"It didn't just go over buying a home or the auction, but the way creditors work, the way certain types of savings and bank accounts work," Sullivan said. "It was actual financial counseling."

For more information on the government program or the Aug. 7 auction, go to Your Way Home AZ.