Misperceptions of Down Payment Assistance Programs (DPA’s)

Dirk Swift
Program Director, Home Plus


In the 80’s, my wife and I would likely have been profiled as typical homebuyers. In the area now known as Westgate, we purchased our first home in 1985 for $80,000. It was a brand new, 1450 square foot house, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. At the time, our dual-income was $43,000/yr. We also carried $8,000 in student loan debt. Mom and Grandpa gifted us money to assist with the 5% required for the down payment and closing costs.

These days, hurdles to homeownership are much higher. First-time homebuyers face many challenges. It is difficult to find a house under $300,000. Meanwhile, along with rapidly rising rents, a median household income of $59,246 and average student loan debt of $23,913, Arizona homebuyers are forced to meet the daunting task of saving for the down payment and closing costs. Unfortunately, gifts from family just are not there anymore. Programs like AzIDA HOME PLUS Home Buyer Down Payment Assistance help to lower these homebuying hurdles.

In today’s market, agents are hesitant to utilize assistance programs because they fear they will be cumbersome and time-consuming. They are also concerned about the funding sources for down payments and closing costs. All in all, there are several misperceptions in the real estate community regarding down payment assistance (DPA) programs:

  • DPA buyers are somehow less creditworthy. The DPA process is more burdensome.
  • The DPA is limited to select areas or specific properties.
  • The DPA is a “big government,” taxpayer-funded program.



  1. The homebuyers in our HOME PLUS DPA program simply lack enough resources for the down payment and/or closing costs. They have good credit, adequate income, job stability, and they fully qualify for the new Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and/or FHA mortgage.
  2. The process to obtain HOME PLUS assistance follows the normal timeline for any new mortgage and can be as quick as the homebuyer, realtor and lender make it. A direct application is not required from the homebuyer, and program-approved lenders are fully delegated to handle all aspects of the program process.
  3. HOME PLUS assistance is available statewide, in all counties, cities, and zip codes. The program can be used for all types of residential purchases including owner-occupied, brand new, and pre-owned single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, duplexes, and manufactured homes.
  4. NO taxpayer funds are used for the AzIDA HOME PLUS program. The HOME PLUS program operates as a true public/private sector partnership. It is self-funded from monies raised in the national capital markets and income generated from our program operation. As such, the program is continually funded and does not have a sunset date.


With first-time homebuyers facing ever-increasing headwinds, resources like DPA and the AzIDA HOME PLUS program should certainly be considered as favorable vehicles to transition more renters to homeowners.