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Taking Down the Down Payment with the Lease Purchase Program

For many prospective homeowners, the struggle of purchasing a home rarely lies solely in monthly expenses or mortgage rates, but in trying to save up enough money for a down payment. Ben and Annie were experiencing this first-hand as they struggled to achieve their dream of owning a home.

Unable to save for a traditional down payment, and knowing that a smaller down payment often leads to a higher monthly payment, Ben and Annie began searching for other options. The couple became hopeful after their discovery of WHEDA’s Lease Purchase program, and soon took their first steps in the homebuying journey. The Lease Purchase program began in 1992 and allowed people like Ben and Annie to get into a home, without having to shell out the full down payment up front. Program participants could lease their home for up to three years while they saved a fixed amount of money each month in preparation for the full down payment being due at the end of their leasing period.

Thanks to years of budgeting and saving, Ben and Annie had funds available for a down payment and were automatically paired with WHEDA’s HOME Loan as a part of the Lease Purchase Program, allowing them to easily transition to homeowners through a 30-year, fixed-rate loan. While Ben and Annie were the first to benefit from WHEDA’s Lease Purchase program, they certainly weren’t the only to reap its rewards.

Ben and Annie’s home was used as a model to provide trade skills to over 80 Northwest Custer High School students in partnership with the City of Milwaukee. Through the high school’s woodworking and carpentry classes, students worked with the new homeowners to make upgrades and repairs so that the house was safe and move-in ready.

Since 1992, many families have benefitted from the Lease Purchase program, by transitioning from being renters to becoming homeowners. While the program is no longer offered, WHEDA has updated products to help access down payment assistance funds, such as Capital Access Advantage. Through WHEDA’s mission of providing new, unique ways of creating affordable housing, WHEDA brings down the 'pay' in down payment.