Get expert tips and a look at Minster Bank with our new audio series, Minster Bank Community Voices.
This week’s guest is Brenda Cavinder, branch manager at our Minster location. She’s also joined by customer Marge Meiring, who used the Welcome Home program to help her purchase her first home. Read more below or listen to the full podcast now.
Q: What is the Welcome Home program, and how does it work?
A: One time a year, the bank actually gives away free money. Can’t get any better than that! You get $5,000 that can be used for a down payment or closing costs.
You do need to put three percent down, with $500 of your own funds. It does have to be a primary home. It’s first-come, first-served. That money becomes available on March 2, and once it’s out, we’re done for that year.
We’ve done this for many years and it’s a great way to get people into homes. It’s $5,000, but if you’re a veteran, you can get up to $7,500. So we try to take care of the veterans, too.
Q: Who qualifies for the Welcome Home program?
A: You don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer, which is great. You can be somebody who’s previously owned a home, as long as you don’t currently own a home.
You can apply as long as you meet the income limits. The limits for this year for Auglaize County, just as an example, are $58,560, and if you have a bigger family, it’s $67,344. Every county has its own rules, so contact them as far as where the house is to see if you meet the income limits.
Q: How can I apply?
A: We can do a pre-approval and get you in right away to apply for those grants. We do have some people that are starting to look for a home already because the housing market is so limited. You can go ahead and call me and I can pre-qualify you. Preapprovals are good for 90 days.
The $5,000 is forgivable over five years. So let’s say someone wants to sell the home in year four; they may have to pay about $1,000 back.
It’s a great program. I love giving free money out – it’s fun!
We also caught up with Marge Meiring, a Minster Bank customer who participated in the Welcome Home program.
Q: How did you hear about the Welcome Home program?
A: I was going to buy a house and I need a loan, so I went to Minster Bank and talked to Brenda. There were pamphlets on her desk, and she said, ‘Hey, want to check this out?’
So she explained the whole thing to me, and I thought, well, I’ll do anything for $5,000. She explained it all – I had to take that little class; I took that online. It took about 3 hours, had to get some paperwork – and it was really quite simple. It was wonderful, actually.
Q: Did you go to Minster Bank first or try another bank for your home loan?
A: I worked in Sidney; I’m retired now – but I just went to the bank across the street over there. And I was very disgruntled when I left because I thought they weren’t that helpful. Because this was the first time I’d ever done this, and I really didn’t know anything about this, to tell you the truth.
So everybody told me – my sister, my brother – they all said, ‘Go to Minster Bank; Brenda will take care of you. She’s good.’ So I was walking in thinking I hadn’t banked there in a long time and would probably get turned down.
Right away I walked into Brenda’s office and was just overwhelmed by how helpful she was, so I’ve been banking with them ever since. I love it; love my new house; love the neighborhood.
Q: Was the Welcome Home process easy for you?
A: It was really easy. At first, I thought, ‘Oh, I have to take a class – I’m done taking classes in my life.’ But my niece helped me get on and it was just really good. I would advise anyone to do it if they can.
Learn More About the Welcome Home Program
Get the full details on the Welcome Home program and see how you can apply.