Buying a home can be an overwhelming process, from finding a home to securing financing, to navigating the home buying process. However, when it comes time to buy a home, there are many resources available to teachers to ease this process. Like other public service professionals like firefighters, law enforcement officers, and veterans, teachers may be eligible for a variety of specialized loan programs. Some of these programs may be national programs available to all teachers, and some teachers, like those in Wisconsin, could enjoy benefits specific to their state. When looking to buy a home, teachers in Wisconsin may want to know: what home loan programs for teachers are available in Wisconsin?
Teachers in Wisconsin may be eligible for a variety of home loan programs at the national and state level. Mortgage programs like Good Neighbors Next Door, Teacher Next Door, and Homes for Heroes are all options for Wisconsin teachers. And, there are other options available to Wisconsin teachers, too, especially if they are first-time home buyers. Organizations like the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) organization offer additional programs to make it easy for first-time homebuyers that are teachers to purchase a home.
Here, we’ll provide a summary of each of these programs and detail the types of support they are able to provide for teachers in Wisconsin. We’ll even include some programs and resources that, while not specific to teachers, are able to provide support for Wisconsinites looking to buy a home.
What National Programs Are Available to Teachers in Wisconsin?
As an added benefit for their service to the community, teachers can be eligible for some added support when looking to purchase a home. These types of supports can include things like favorable lending options, discounted homes, assistance with a downpayment, and other financial supports.
Each state can also offer options to their teachers locally, but generally, speaking, teachers across the nation–including teachers in Wisconsin–are eligible to take advantage of assistance from:
- Good Neighbors Next Door
- Teacher Next Door
- Homes for Heroes
What is the Good Neighbors Next Door Program?
The Good Neighbors Next Door program aims at having teachers (as well as firefighters, police, and EMT’s) contribute toward community revitalization by offering a 50% discount from the list price of a home located in a designated revitalization area.
To take advantage of this incentive, teachers must demonstrate that they meet the eligibility requirements and commit to living in that property as their principal residence for three years (36 months). The program requires that teachers take a second “silent” mortgage for the discounted amount, and as long as the teacher meets the 36-month residency requirement, there are no payments due on the second mortgage (and no interest due). After that point, teachers can choose to either remain in the home or sell it.
To take advantage of this program, teachers simply need to search for available HUD homes within the Good Neighbors Next Door program and follow the instructions to submit interest in purchasing the home.
What is the Teacher Next Door Program?
The Teacher Next Door program provides a variety of types of assistance to teachers that are looking to purchase homes, and in this program, there is no limit on the types of homes that are eligible. This assistance is available to any home on the market (but teachers can also purchase through the Good Neighbors Next Door program as well).
The Teachers Next Door is a program with no fees (no application, up-front, or broker fees) that can make purchasing a home an accessible reality with support like free home appraisals, free home buyer representation, and free access to MLS listings. Through this program, teachers also may be eligible for grants up to $6,472.00 (or even up to $8,000 in some areas), down payment assistance up to $10,681.00, and home loans for teachers.
Any K-12 classroom teacher (public or private) is eligible, as are college and university professors. Teachers just need to apply on the program’s website to start taking advantage of the many benefits the program offers. See our full Teacher Next Door review for some more insight into this program.
What is Homes for Heroes?
Homes for Heroes is another home-buying assistance program available to teachers (as well as firefighters/EMS, law enforcement, military, and healthcare professionals). According to the website, the average amount of money saved on a home purchased or sold with Homes for Heroes is $2,400. Teachers can work with the program’s local real estate agent, who will coach them through the process. Then after the final purchase of a home, the home buyer will receive a check from the organization as a “thank you” for the service they provide in their profession as a teacher.
Throughout the process, buyers can also benefit from reduced lending fees on mortgages and discounts on services like home inspections and titles. Even if teachers are just starting the process and looking to get some simple questions answered, Homes for Heros can be a resource for free tips and advice without any commitment.
Teachers looking to take advantage of this program just need to go to the website and fill out a sign-up form, and the program’s local real estate or mortgage specialist will contact them.
What Other Resources Are Available to Wisconsin Teachers Looking to Purchase a Home?
In addition to special home buying programs just for teachers, Wisconsin teachers may also be eligible for government-backed mortgages that encourage first-time home buyers as well as support low-income buyers looking to purchase a home.
If the Wisconsin teacher is a first-time home buyer, he or she could be eligible for programs with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA). Some benefits through WHEDA could include closing cost assistance, down payment assistance, and 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, depending on eligibility.
Teachers interested in pursuing options through WHEDA can find more information on programs, eligibility, and next steps on its website.
If a teacher doesn’t have extensive funds for a down payment, it may be worth investigating other government-backed mortgages. There are three types of government-backed loans that lenders may be able to provide to teachers:
- FHA loans
- USDA loans
- VA loans
FHA loans can be a great option for teachers that have a credit score over 580. With this loan, teachers could put down as little as 3.5% on the purchase of a home. (Teachers with credit scores lower than 580 could also be eligible, but would need to put down up to 10%.)
USDA loans could help a teacher avoid a downpayment altogether if they purchase a home in a designated rural area. There are location standards and median income guidelines that must be met–so options may be a bit more limited with this type of loan–but it is still an option worth looking into.
VA loans could be an option for a teacher that is also a veteran. After a one-time funding fee, VA loans offer low mortgage rates and no down payment requirements. (Teachers that are also veterans will also want to do more research into other lending programs for former military–and their families–as there may be more benefits available to them beyond just benefits available to teachers.)
To research these types of loans, teachers will need to look through a specific lender. Often realtors are able to provide some great resources to clients looking for funding, or they can consult a lending company like Rocket Mortgage who offers a wide variety of types of loans.
Do Lenders Offer Dedicated Discounts to Teachers?
Yes–it may be worth investigating looking into offerings from specific lenders to see if they offer more favorable terms for teachers, even if they do not offer a dedicated educator program.
For example, the Educator’s Credit Union can be a great lender to investigate if you are a teacher. Originally founded by teachers, this institution operates under the principle, “Not for Profit, Not for Charity, But for Service,” and now extends their benefits to not just teachers, but also students, government workers, healthcare employees, small business owners, and more. With flat closing costs, a variety of repayment terms, and down payment options as low as 3% with a mortgage amount of $30,000 or more, banks like this one could make home purchases more accessible for teachers.
Companies like Educator Mortgage Program similarly offer benefits to teachers looking to purchase a home. The Educator Mortgage Program offers special programs for teachers and other staff employed by a school with benefits like reduced closing costs, discounted real estate agent fees, and priority loan processing.
Regardless of which program the teacher ends up taking advantage of, It always pays to do the research. Teachers looking to purchase a home in Wisconsin should take the time to do research on different programs, companies, and lending options that could make buying a home much more affordable. While there are some great options out there, ultimately, understanding all of the available options and evaluating which one is the best fit for the teacher’s situation is the best way to find the best loan program.