Down payments, property taxes can be barriers to home ownership and retention

I have been reading with interest the debate between landlords and tenants in The Commons about the rental ordinance. I felt compelled to offer a different viewpoint.

Many who pay rent can also afford a mortgage payment on a home of their own, but it seems barriers to home ownership are down payments and property taxes that go up every year.

Down payment requirements by banks are high, often 20 percent or more of the total price of the home. Therefore, to purchase a $100,000 home, a buyer ideally has $20,000 to spend immediately, not including additional closing costs associated with a potential loan for the balance.

This often disqualifies lower income people and families from home ownership.

Property taxes are another factor, because as property taxes rise, if they are included in the mortgage payment, the mortgage payment rises as well. So a monthly payment that was affordable to the buyer when they purchased the home becomes unaffordable.

I have witnessed a family removed from their home and then locked out of it for falling too far behind on their mortgage because of rising taxes. The home sat vacant for over a year, while the family (thankfully) had a support system to turn to so they did not become homeless. But the loss of their home was devastating for them (and, in my opinion, inhumane).

There are also elderly people who have paid off their mortgage and are now on fixed incomes, and rising taxes can in fact result in them losing their homes after decades simply because they can't keep up - also inhumane.

There has to be a better way. I don't have all the answers, but I believe that down payments required by banks are a barrier to homeownership and that taxes should never, ever result in loss of a primary residence.

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