The government is handing out money – often $3,000 to $10,000 – to low- and middle-income home buyers around St. Louis.
If you're earning a decent wage, but not a lavish one, this government giveaway might just put you into a house.
There are similar programs in St. Louis city, Jefferson, Madison and St. Clair counties, unincorporated parts of St. Charles county, the city of St. Charles, St. Peters, Wentzville and O'Fallon. The details vary by where you buy.
A second program applies to houses that weren't foreclosed and repaired by the government, but it has tighter eligibility standards for buyers. Both programs are not available in all parts of the St. Louis area.
The program offering rehabbed houses is called the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. To buy a house, a buyer must have $1,000 to put down, enough income and a credit score high enough to qualify for a mortgage.
You have to live in the home for a set number of years, usually five, to avoid paying back the government subsidy.
The second program has different names in different places. St. Louis County calls it the First-Time Home Buyer Down Payment Loan program. Actually, it's more a gift than a loan, since it carries no interest, requires no payments and is forgiven after five years if the buyer stays in the house.
Buyers aren't limited to houses the county rehabbed.
Other program rules seem to differ town to town and county to county.
Both programs require a one-day course in personal finance and home-owning.