Government grants helping homebuyers survive tough times

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Government efforts to breathe life into the housing industry have created some huge helps for certain home buyers. It's another strategy to put in the Tough Times Survival Bank.

For example, how would you like $14,000 of free money to help you buy a new home? If you fit the right profile, it can be yours.

Matthew and Amanda Coons are closing on their new home -- a 1,400 square foot condominium with two bedrooms, two baths and a den.

"It's great! It's exciting," Amanda laughed.

Matt added, "[We're] excited to get into something."

For the two and a half years they've been married they've lived in an apartment, and would still if it weren't for a pair of government incentives.

"The $8,000 grant was something that pushed us toward that; the $6,000 really pushed us over the edge to do it now," Matt said.

Because they are first-time home buyers, the Coons are getting an $8,000 tax credit from President Obama's economic stimulus bill. Because they are also buying a new home, they qualified for a $6,000 Utah HomeRun home-purchase grant.

"We're very thrilled with the way the program has worked," said Grant Whitaker, CEO of the Utah Housing Corporation.

The corporation Whitaker heads administers the legislature's $10 million appropriation designed primarily to move unsold home inventory, and to put builders back to work.

"In about a three-month period, we will have gotten about 1,600 homes sold," Whitaker said.

The state's housing grant program is a boon to home builders who have born the brunt of the recession, as well as for people like the Coons -- the happy byproduct is an affordable house and some money for other things.

"We're just going to pay off some debt and buy appliances," Amanda said.

Utah buyers are catching on. "In the six weeks that it's been available, half of the $10 million has been reserved," Whitaker said.

The income limits for those purchase incentives are a $150,000 per couple.


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Bruce Lindsay


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