Atlantic County Homebuyers Program

Improving educational facilities

Atlantic County Homebuyers Program

Program Participants:

The Atlantic County Improvement Authority (ACIA), Home Buyers and Lenders utilizing approved Mortgage programs.  The ACIA reserves the right to reject mortgages that contain terms and/or conditions that conflict with the goals of the program.

Program Objective:

To increase home ownership opportunities in Atlantic County by overcoming the obstacles created by the down payment and closing cost requirements faced by low/moderate income families when purchasing a home. 

Eligible Applicants:


  1. Who have resided in Atlantic County for the last 12 months or are employed in Atlantic County.
  2. Who have not owned a home for the last three years.
  3. With acceptable credit history and the ability to obtain an approved mortgage, through NJHMFA Lenders
  4. With incomes below 80% of Median income:

These income levels are (2021):

# of Household Members 80% of Median Income

1 Person


2 Persons


3 Persons


4 Persons


5 Persons


6 Persons


7 Persons


8 Persons


It is ACIA’s Office of Community Development’s (ACIA) responsibility to determine that the applicant household is in compliance with the Atlantic County HOME Program’s guidelines, to collect appropriate documentation, to provide and record the proper HOME Program documents as required.

Therefore, ACIA will determine the following:

  1. Household income eligibility for family size (less than 80% of area median)
  2. Property location eligibility
  3. Property value eligibility:
    1. Sales price for an existing home cannot exceed $209,000.00.
    2. Sales price for a new home cannot exceed $255,000.00
  4. Need for assistance
  5. Check is requested, prepared and delivered to closing
  6. Guidelines, Note and Mortgage are prepared and delivered to closing
  7. File is completed and kept in the Office of Community Development

Additionally, ACIA will see that the proper documentation is collected and maintained in the file and that all documents required by the HOME Program are provided, signed and recorded as needed. The HOME Program documents are listed below.

  1. Resale Guidelines are signed at closing (original in file – copy to applicant)
  2. Note is signed at closing (original in file – copy to applicant)
  3. Mortgage is signed at closing (a signed copy in file – original is recorded and returned to the County)

Other document prepared by ACIA:

  1. Certification of Approval


The application must be completed and submitted to the Office of Community Development. Conditions of approval include the following:

  1. Must complete a HUD-approved Home Buyer Education Program
  2. Must be under contract of sale for an eligible property
  3. Must qualify for participation according to the guidelines of the HOME Program


The household composition listed on the application can and MUST be verified with support documentation. For minor children, this can be accomplished through scrutinizing income tax returns, child custody documents and/or court-ordered child-support documents.

Income Eligibility is based on whether or not the TOTAL HOUSEHOLD income falls below 80% of the area median for the family. ONLY the HUD Income Scale Guidelines, or any updated guidelines, can be used. (See Attachment III).

Household size is determined as any combination of people, regardless of age or relationship to the applicant (or whether or not their name will appear on the mortgage documents), who either currently live within the household and/or will live within the household after purchase.

ALL income for each member MUST be considered in order to determine household income. That includes net income from a business, salaries (full and part-time, depending on the length of part-time employment), child support, alimony, and benefits, such as Welfare, Social Security, Social Security Disability, VA, military pensions or any other pension or annuity. Additionally, income from other assets, such as net rent collected from rental property, stocks, bonds, investments, CD’s or savings, 401K, etc., will be counted. 


Down Payment + Closing Costs = Total Needed
Amount deposit made + Gift + Seller’s Assist + Savings Available + financed up front mortgage insurance premium + anything already paid out of closing (POC) that appears on Loan Estimator (LE)*** = Total Available.

Total Needed – Total Available = Amount of Assistance Needed
Upfront mortgage insurance premiums are borrowed in an FHA mortgage. If that amount is included in the total for closing costs as seen on the Loan Estimator, then add that amount to the buyer’s funds available. If it does not appear on LE, do not add it to that.

Items POC could include application fee, credit report, points, commitment fee, first year’s insurance premium and termite certification. Only deal with items that appear on the LE. Also, consider anything additional monies paid toward down payment, prior to closing.

HOME Project Underwriting & Subsidy Layering Policy


The Final HOME Rule, published on July 24, 2013, requires underwriting/subsidy layering analysis of any project that receives HOME Investment Partnerships Program Funds. The County of Atlantic has adopted the following underwriting and subsidy layering policy to comply with the new requirements per §24 CFR Part 92.250(b). All of the HOME-assisted units developed under the County’s HOME Program must be households whose incomes do not exceed 80 percent of the area median as published each year by HUD.

The Atlantic County Improvement Authority on behalf of the County of Atlantic (hereafter the “County”) is responsible for preparing subsidy layering/underwriting analysis and documentation that demonstrates that the County is not investing anymore HOME funds, alone or in combination with other funds, than is necessary to provide quality, affordable, and financially viable housing for at least the duration of the HOME affordability period. The Final HOME Rule applies to all HOME-funded projects on or after August 23, 2013.

The County anticipates undertaking Rental Development, First-Time Homebuyer, and Homeownership Rehab/Reconstruction Projects.

When a CHDO is carrying out either rental or homeownership projects, the County will incorporate into each layering review a formal determination as to how the CHDO is meeting the HOME CHDO definitions as an owner, developer or sponsor of affordable housing per §24 CFR Part 300(a)(b) and (c) as part of the project. The County will also document the CHDOs overall capacity relevant to the role it is undertaking in the proposed project. The assessment and documentation will be done each time HOME CHDO funds are invested into a project as part of the CHDO certification requirement under the Final Home Rule. The CHDO Certification will be included in each project file prior to the investment of HOME CHDO funding.

HOME Underwriting Policy

HUD Citation: §24 CFR Part 92.250(a) and (b)
The County’s HOME Program Policy requires that a project underwriting analysis be completed, with appropriate supporting documentation, prior to formally committing HOME funds to a project.  The underwriting must include the following elements:

Homeownership Underwriting Requirements

For any projects that involve HOME-assisted homeownership, the underwriting must include the following elements:

  1. An analysis must be completed to ensure that the initial purchase price and the post rehab value of the unit do not exceed 95% of the area median purchase price. The determination of median purchase must use the HUD published data sets for either newly constructed houses or existing houses based on the type of project.

$237,000, a three-unit $287,000, and a four Unit $355,000.

  1. As part of the underwriting preparation, ensure that homebuyer counseling has been completed. This is an eligible program soft cost and can be incorporated into the project development budget. As of October 1, 2020, such counseling must be provided by a HUD-Certified Counselor.
  2. For homebuyer projects that involve rehabilitation, an assessment must be completed to ensure that units/buildings major systems have a useful life of at least five (5) years following rehabilitation.

As part of the underwriting of each project, an evaluation of the homebuyer must be done to include the following:

  1. Evaluation of housing debt and overall debt;
  2. Monthly expenses of the family;
  3. Financial resources available to sustain and maintain housing;
  4. The homeowner’s private mortgage is sustainable and does not include any predatory loans; and
  5. Evaluation of the terms, for all loans to which HOME funds are subordinated, to ensure that they are reasonable and sustainable.

Responsible Lending

The Atlantic County HOME Program Policy requires that private mortgages obtained by homebuyers are sustainable loans with fair terms and conditions as defined by HUD. No predatory loans are permitted or loans that would threaten the sustainability of homeownership, such as adjustable rate mortgage, interest-only loans, loans with negative amortization, or balloon payment loans. The County of Atlantic uses the “Qualified Mortgage Standards” (QM) developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  QM Standards include the following elements:

  1. Lender fees and points are to be a maximum of 3% for loans over $100,000.
  2. Closing costs should be reasonable, including origination fees, points, and other lender charges.
  3. Interest rates on loans should not exceed 1.5% above the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) index as updated.
  4. Mortgages should not allow for any prepayment penalties.
  5. Mortgages must not be for a term longer than thirty (30) years.
  6. Mortgage products must require escrows for taxes and home insurance.
  7. HOME-assisted homebuyers must participate in and complete a HUD-approved homebuyer counseling course.

The homebuyer HOME files must provide evidence of the following:

  1. Qualifications of the counseling provider (including entity and individual);
  2. Content of counseling curriculum, method of delivery (i.e. one-on-one, individual, in-person, remote, etc.), and duration; and
  3. Timing of counseling (e.g. the length of the qualified counseling certification).

Ineligible forms of homeownership include: contracts for deed, installment contracts, and land sales contractors or other contracts that fail to provide equity to the homebuyer, per 24 CFR Part 92.2.

Homebuyer Mortgage Assessment

First mortgage products used in conjunction with HOME funds should meet the following guidelines:

Debt-to-Income Ratio:

Minimum FICO
Credit Score

Qualifying Ratios

Compensating Factors and Requirements for Cash
Reserves/Residual Income





Minimal Payment Shock
Steady Employment for three (3) years
Cash reserves after closing = to three (3) months Residual Income = to one(1) month mortgage





Minimal Payment Shock
Steady Employment for three (3) years and ONE of the following:

  1. Cash reserves after closing = to two (2) months or
  2. Residual Income = to one (1) month

mortgage payment





Minimal Payment Shock
Steady Employment for three (3) years and ONE of the following:

  1. Cash reserve after closing = to one (1) month or
  2. Residual Income = to one (1) month mortgage






Minimal Payment Shock
Steady Employment for last two (2) years
$1,000 Cash Reserves after closing



$500 Cash Reserves after closing

Credit Worthiness Criteria

For purposes of qualifying Borrower for a first mortgage, credit worthiness criteria shall be as established by the primary mortgage lender.

These standards also apply to stand-alone, direct homebuyer assistance for the purchase of owner-occupied housing with HOME funds.

  1. The County will require a minimum cash investment from the buyer towards the home purchase based on their income and assets.
  2. The County will review the buyer’s assets as part of direct homeownership assistance to determine if they can afford an additional contribution towards the purchase of the unit. The amount of HOME assistance provided to the buyer will be partially determined by this analysis. The buyer shall be subject to the post closing Cash Reserve/Residual Income requirements specified in the above chart. Mortgage payment above includes mortgage principal, interest, real estate taxes, insurance and condominium fees (not-to-exceed $20,000 in liquid assets after closing of the sale).

Subordination/Refinance Policy

In order to subordinate the original loan agreement to the first-lien holder, the following conditions must be met:

  1. The new senior first lien will reduce the monthly payments to the homeowner, thereby making the monthly payments more affordable;
  2. Reduction of the loan term;
  3. The new senior lien interest rate must be fixed for the life of the loan (Balloon or ARM loans are ineligible); and;
  4. The County will approve refinancing requests according to the following procedures:
    1. Borrower must submit a written request to the County to verify the minimum refinancing requirements within one month of the expected closing.
    2. The County will review the final HUD Settlement Statement two (2) weeks prior to closing the refinance.
    3. If applicable, the County will issue written approval one week prior to the closing date.
    4. The County will be provided with a copy of the final, executed HUD Settlement Statement.
    5. If written permission is granted by the County and it is determined that the refinancing action does not meet the conditions for refinancing as stated above, the HOME loan will become immediately due and payable prior to closing the new senior loan.
    6. The HOME Notes/Mortgage must be paid in full in order for the County to execute the release of the lien.

Loan Estimator (LE) of Closing Costs - This document may be supplied by the realtor or the lender. Regardless who supplies it, remember it is only an estimate and is usually high. The lender’s LE is more reliable than the realtor’s. It will contain all estimated closing costs, but MAY NOT contain the down payment. That must be added to ACIA’s calculations. Usually, the LE will also contain the applicant’s PITI. If it does not, remember to obtain that information from the lender. Things to remember and make adjustments for:

Check the estimated principal and interest payment with number sited on the Mortgage Commitment. Check the estimated taxes with the amount listed on the appraisal.

Additional Closing Costs Not Found on the LE - Occasionally, clients will have to pay for items not included in the LE total, and you will need to be aware of them to accurately calculate the client’s total need for assistance.

One legitimate expense added to the closing costs at the settlement table are fees associated with the purchase of a condo. There is usually a capital contribution, a process fee, and prepaid condo fees of 1 to 3 months. This information is made available from the Condo Association, in writing. This can be obtained through the client’s efforts, the realtor’s efforts or your own. The amount must be added to the total closing costs and the information made part of the client’s file.

Home inspection costs are POC and do not usually appear on the LE. Payment for this service will reduce that client’s savings.

Saving - Funds Available - Although the applicant should be using as much of their savings as possible, it is not the County’s intention to wipe them out completely. Use good judgment when determining just how much of their savings is available and allow for moving expenses and padding for extra closing costs. It is important to check with the lender to determine if there are any reserves required by them. If so, leave the applicant an appropriate amount. Of course, this is only a concern when an applicant has a real savings account!

Gifts - The applicant may be getting a gift from a family member to help them meet the total required down payment and closing costs. Be sure to ASK about any other assistance they may be getting and obtain a copy of the gift letter the lender requires. This should be added to the file.

Seller’s Assistance - Often in regular real estate deals, the seller will provide assistance to the buyer. This amount can be found in the contract of sale and needs to be considered as funds available when determining the amount of assistance needed.


Contract of Sale - The contract contains important information needed for the application. It is the interviewer’s responsibility to scrutinize the document for all pertinent information. The following can be found:

  1. Address of the property
  2. Lot and block numbers
  3. Price of the property
  4. Down payment required (usually)
  5. Amount deposited at the signing of the contract (deposit is not the same as down payment)
  6. Any assistance provided by the seller
  7. Closing date
  8. Name of title company and address
  9. Name, address and phone number of each realtor involved

Appraisal - The appraisal is used to verify the address, lot and block number taken from the contract of sale, verify real estate taxes and verify that the value does not exceed the HUD 203(b) cap of $209,000.00 for pre-existing properties or $250,000.00 for new properties.

Mortgage Commitment - This document verifies that the lender is willing to lend money for the purchase. Use it to verify the amount borrowed, the interest rate, monthly principal and interest payment and other conditions. In FHA mortgages, this document will help to identify the exact amount of down payment.

Inspection Reports and/or Certification - The following reports or certifications are either required by local regulation, state regulation or federal regulation. The information will be obtained and handled as indicated below.

Lead Based Paint - While the law does not require that sellers remove lead based paint from the house prior to sale, it does require that each contract of sale contain language, or have an addendum, that does the following:

  1. Lets the buyer know there may be, or is, lead based pain in the house, either because the house was built prior to 1978, or because the sellers have a report that indicates the presence and/or location of lead based paint.
  2. Gives the buyer the option, at their own expense, to either have the house tested for lead based paint or waive their rights to having an inspection done.
  3. The seller (actually, the real estate agent) provides a booklet to the buyer entitled, “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home” that educates the buyer in ways to deal with lead in the home.
  4. ACIA will obtain and retain copies of the addendum to the contract of sale and/or the actual inspection report, providing the buyer chose to have it done.

Smoke Detector Certificate - At minimum, all townships, by New Jersey State Law, require a Smoke Detector Certification Inspection. The cost is usually paid for by the seller, and a copy can be obtained through the seller’s realtor. Occasionally, the Contract of Sale will indicate that the buyer obtain and pay for same. Either way, a copy is required.

Certification of Occupancy or Certification of Continued Occupancy - Some townships require that every house sold must be inspected by their appropriate office, and a certificate issued for a legal sale. It is usually the seller’s responsibility to pay for and obtain the certificate. Usually, the seller’s realtor will make the arrangements and a copy for our files can be obtained through them. However, occasionally a Contract of Sale may indicate the buyer is responsible for same. Either way, a copy is required.

Since both C of O’s and Smoke Detector Certificates are usually ordered at the last minute, it is appropriate to forward the request for a check to the County without having the Certificates. It must be obtained before closing.

Declaration Page and Insurance Policy - The Mortgage prepared for the HOME Program requires that the property be insured and the Atlantic County Improvement Authority be named as second loss payee or second mortgagee for the term of the note and mortgage ( years). This makes it possible for the County to recapture their investment in the event of a disaster that may occur within the term of the note and mortgage. The Declaration Page can be faxed, emailed or hand-delivered, but it must have the appropriate language citing the County as second loss payee or mortgagee. The buyer, realtor and Insurance Company needs to know that the County needs an original policy.


Documentation Letter (Attachment IV) - This form is prepared at the end of the interview on the day the application is taken. It is designed to identify the missing items and again stress the need for prompt attention to getting to ACIA staff. It also clearly outlines the amount of time required to get a check from the County for closing. The interviewer signs it to document that they have received it. The original is given to the applicant and a copy is kept for the file. Often providing a copy to the Realtor will help move things along.

Letter to Lender (Attachment V) - At some point during mortgage processing, the lender will want verification from ACIA as to just how much assistance will be provided. The Certificate of Approval (Attachment VII) can be used for this purpose if the amount of assistance has been calculated. If not, the n a letter indicating just what the applicant has qualified for up to this point, and indicating that he/she/they are entitled will suffice. (See the sample letter Attachment V.)

The Certificate of Approval (Attachment VII) - This certification is prepared by ACIA staff when all documents have been collected and closing is pending. The certificate is signed by the Director of Community Development after review of the file. Responsibility for providing the check at closing is that of ACIA staff. Careful coordination with ACIA and the realtor is needed to ensure that ACIA has funds for the scheduled closing.

HOME Program Resale Guidelines (Attachment VI) - This document stats the amount of assistance and outlines all the terms and conditions of the HOME Program. It is prepared by ACIA staff for signing at closing. The original is for the ACIA file and the applicant is given a copy at closing.

Promissory Note (Attachment IX) - The Mortgage Note (and Mortgage) is prepared by ACIA staff. It is essentially the promise to repay the assistance and lists the requirements and reasons for default. The original is kept for the County records and a copy is given to the applicant at closing.

Mortgage (Attachment X) - The Mortgage is prepared in the same manner as the Mortgage Note and accompanies same. It is essentially the legal instrument by which the conditions listed in the Mortgage Note are made legally enforceable. It is recorded by the Closing Agent as a second mortgage. A copy is given to the applicant and a copy is retained for the County’s files. After recording, the original Mortgage Note will be mailed directly to the ACIA.

Note: ACIA staff must obtain a copy of the legal description from the closing agent, either prior to closing or at closing, to attach to the Mortgage for recording.


Step 1 - Once all supporting documents are gathered, the Certificate of Approval (Attachment VII) is completed by ACIA staff and signed. It is forwarded to the Director of Community Development, along with a copy of the first page of the completed application. (All information at the bottom of the page should be completed indicating that the ACIA has these documents.) This alerts the Director to request funds from HUD and request a check through their normal process.

The ACIA staff should always alert applicants that it may take as long as three (3) weeks to obtain a check, and the request cannot be made until ALL documents are received. (The request can be sent without the Certificate of Occupancy or Smoke Detector Certificate. However, the staff must make certain to obtain same before closing, or at closing.)

Step 2 - The Request for Draw-Down Form (Attachment VIII) is completed and given to the Director of Community Development, preferably three (3) weeks in advance of a closing. He/she will draw down the monies to the
County and request a check from the ACIA’s Senior Accountant.


The ACIA staff person will be responsible for recording data to determine how much grant money for assistance has been disbursed, how much remains available and any other information used for tracking of each applicant. The tracking form will be maintained by the ACIA staff person responsible for this program. Information must be kept up-to-date and available for reporting to funding sources. The ACIA staff person will be responsible
for any other type of report that the Office of Community Development should require.


Attachment      I               HOME Assistance Application                                   
Attachment      II              Informational Flyer                                                     
Attachment      III            HUD Income Guidelines                                           
Attachment      IV             Documentation Letter                                             
Attachment      V              Letter to Lender                                                          
Attachment      VI             HOME Resale Guidelines                                            
Attachment      VII           Certificate of Approval                                               
Attachment      VIII          Request for Draw-Down                                            
Attachment      IX            Mortgage (Promissory) Note                                      
Attachment      X              Mortgage                                                                  
Attachment      XI            Invoice for Overnight Expense                                  
Attachment      XII           Instruction Letter to Closing Agency  

Do You Qualify For The Down Payment & Closing Cost Assistance Program?
To qualify you must:

  1. Have a Certificate of Completion for a Home Buyers Counseling Program provided by HUD.
  2. Have a total household income less than 80% of the Area Median Income.
  3. PITI (Principal, Interest, Tax, Insurance) should not exceed 30% of Gross Monthly Income.
  4. Purchase a single-family residence in Atlantic County.
  5. Provide an appraisal showing present value, or after rehabilitation value, less than $185,000.
  6. Maintain the home as a primary residence.
  7. Execute a Mortgage Note and Mortgage in accordance with the resale restrictions as set forth in the Resale Guidelines Atlantic County HOME Program.

Is there an application fee? There is no fee; however, no application will be taken without verification of satisfactory completion of ACIA’s Mortgage Readiness Initiative.

How will ACIA determine household size, income and affordable eligibility?   ACIA will collect the following documents at the time the application is submitted to determine the aforementioned:

  1. Four consecutive pay stubs dated within 120 days of application, or, one recent Pay stub and a letter from each and every current employer stating present income in an annualized figure, plus expected income from tips, overtime or other extra earnings.
  2. A letter or appropriate reporting form verifying, without limitation, Social Security, unemployment, disability, pension or other benefits, including those received by an adult caretaker for the benefit of a minor child.
  3. A letter or appropriate reporting form verifying any other sources of income claimed by the applicant or household member.
  4. A copy of IRS Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ, as applicable, and NJ State Income Tax Returns, with W-2’s attached, for each of the three (3) years prior to the date of application.
  5. Birth Certificate or Social Security cards for all children in the household and for any house-hold Member not listed on IRS Forms.
  6. Reports that verify income from bank accounts, securities, trust funds or other income producing properties.
  7. Reports that verify assets that do not earn regular income such as non-income producing real estate and savings with delayed earning provisions.
  8. Loan Estimator (LE) of Closing Costs.

How will ACIA determine how much assistance to provide? The Down Payment & Closing Cost Assistance Program will provide only the amount needed. The ACIA will collect the following documents to determine the approximate amount of down payment and closing costs needed at closing.

  1. Contract of Sale
  2. Loan Estimator (LE) of Closing Costs
  3. Current bank statements showing funds available from savings, checking, 401K, credit union, etc.
  4. Gift Letter

How will ACIA determine property eligibility? ACIA will need a copy of the appraisal.

Will ACIA disburse a check at the time of application? No. ACIA must first request the funds from the Atlantic County Treasurer.

How long will it take to get funds from Atlantic County and have a check ready? At least three (3) weeks, once the request is made. *The request cannot be made until ACIA receives all documents.

Are there any other documents needed to request or release a check? Yes. A mortgage commitment, a copy of the home owner’s insurance policy listing Atlantic County Office of Community Development as the second mortgage/loss payee, and a copy of Certification of Occupancy, if new construction, or required by municipality, or Smoke Detector Certification, as required by New Jersey State Law.

When will the Mortgage Note and Mortgage be executed? At Closing.           

Family Size

Income Level


















Very Low









60% Limits









Low Income









Homebuyer Application
Agreement to Provide Insurance
Certification of Payment
Disclosure Form for Target Housing
Limit of Liability
Certification of Approval

HUD approved Home Buyers Counseling and Education Program :
Applicants must complete a HUD approved home buyers counseling and education program approved by the Atlantic County Improvement Authority, through either:
Money Management International               1.888.845.5669
Consumer Credit Counseling
Consumer Credit & Budget Counseling       1.888.738.8233

For More Information:

Angela DiSantis, Administrative Assistant
Atlantic County Improvement Authority
Telephone: (609) 343-2390

Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.