The mission of the Office of Neighborhood Services is to improve the quality of life for Columbia’s residents through fairly and swiftly enforcing city codes related to residential life and build a sense of community by offering valuable volunteer opportunities, providing resources for neighborhood leaders to solve issues independently and managing donations to support our community.
This program is designed to help low-to-moderate income families purchase and occupy a home in the city limits of Columbia. Applicants must be “first time home buyers” who meet the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) income guidelines below. Exceptions to the first-time-homebuyer rule are “displaced home-makers” and “single parents.”
Through the normal process of buying a home, low- to moderate-income families may not have adequate funds for the down payment and other up-front loan closing costs. Assistance up to $7,500 or 7.5% of the purchase price, whichever is less, can be provided in the form of a 10-year forgivable loan at 0% interest to assist home buyers in purchasing an existing home. These funds are only to be used for down payment and closing costs (prepaid costs such as taxes and insurance are not eligible), or to reduce the principle amount of a loan, and buyers must provide a minimum of $500 in cash toward the purchase.
Application for assistance is made through your lender in cooperation with the City of Columbia's Community Development Department. Once you have met your lender’s requirements to get a home loan, have your loan officer contact Community Development at 573.874.7239.
Buyers are required to attend a home buyer education program, such as “Pre-Purchase Home Buyer's Seminar ” or “MoneySmart” designed to help them understand their credit history and the process of buying and paying for a home. Local lenders are partners in this program. Some lenders offer home loans at terms that make home-ownership attractive and affordable. They can also refer buyers to the appropriate credit and home buyer education programs offered throughout Columbia. To register for the Pre-Purchase Home Buyer's Seminar online, please click here.
In cases where additional assistance is required to meet lender or program underwriting requirements, the City may increase assistance to a maximum of $10,000 or 10% of the purchase price, whichever is less, in order to fill a financing gap.
Buyer(s) must have an average combined credit score not less than 600 (subject to change). Completion of MoneySmart or other approved class may be accepted for scores lower than the required minimum.
Buyer(s) cannot have more than $15,000 in readily available resources.
Houses purchased under this program must be located within the Columbia city limits. Applicants must avoid flood plains to qualify.
The property can be a single or a multi-family (condominium) dwelling--click here for maximum allowable purchase prices. City staff must inspect the entire property to determine that it meets the City’s property maintenance code. All deficiencies must be corrected prior to homeownership assistance funds being provided.
Houses built prior to January 1, 1978, may require a lead risk assessment if deteriorated paint exists. If the paint is determined to contain lead above HUD’s level of concern, lead hazard remediation and final clearance is required in order for the home to qualify for City assistance. Lead risk assessment and final clearance will be procured and covered by City funds. A $500 grant is available upon closing to help the buyer offset costs associated with lead hazard remediation; all costs over $500 must be paid by the buyer or seller.
Prior to receiving city funds, the buyer is required to sign a Deed of Trust, Promissory Note, and Borrower’s Agreement to prevent the leasing, subleasing or selling of their home for a minimum of ten years. The Deed of Trust will be recorded at the Boone County Recorder’s Office. Funds provided for down payment and closing cost assistance shall be repaid on a prorated basis if the property is sold or ceases to be owner-occupied before the end of the affordability period.
Local lenders offer a number of loan packages -- take the time needed to find the loan package that works best for you. You should also carefully read the informative brochure published by HUD, Don’t Be a Victim of Loan Fraud – Protect Yourself from Predatory Lenders.
Contact a loan officer at a local bank, savings and loan, mortgage company, or credit union, or the Community Development Department on the 5th floor of City Hall at 701 E. Broadway.
Telephone: 573.874.7239 (TTY: 1-800-MOR-ELAY)
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race or color, national origin or ancestry, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18), handicap (disability), marital status or sexual orientation.
Contact the Columbia Human Rights Commission at 573.874.7488 (V/TTY) if you feel you have been discriminated against.