Friday, October 12, 2007

Grant for Investing in Real Estate

By now, we have all seen the commercials shouting that you are a fool for not taking advantage of the government grants available for everything from starting your own business to investing in real estate. Does it sound too good to be true?

That depends. Certainly, some people have received a grant for investing in real estate. A very few have received a large grant for investing in real estate. And even though these grants exist, the requirements can be quite stringent, the competition very tough, and the amounts small.

However, there are some circumstances where it is possible to start or improve a real estate investing career by seeking and obtaining grants. Most often, local municipalities fund affordable housing initiatives. These may range from offering individuals grants to assist in a first-time-homeowner down payment, to grants to non-profit developers to build multi-unit affordable housing developments.

For example, currently in Miami, Florida, housing assistance grants are available ( for low-income individuals who meet needs criteria. This type of grant can be found by contacting the housing department of the municipality where you are looking to invest.

Other programs exist on a municipal or regional basis for the elderly, persons with disabilities, and persons with AIDS. If you fall into one of these categories and wish to purchase real estate, again the best place to start looking is your municipal housing authority or agency.

Another class of programs encourages “Sweat Equity,” or seeks to provide housing opportunities for people who are willing and able to provide some of the labor of building the home. One of the best known organizations in this category is Habitat for Humanity, although similar organizations exist on local levels.

Individuals may also qualify for downpayment assistance. This information from the website illustrates a typical example of this type of grant:

AHP Homeownership Set-Aside Program of the FHLBank SystemFederal Housing Finance Board
An FHLBank may set aside up to the greater of $4.5 million or 35 percent of its AHP funds each year for a homebuyer program for low- and moderate-income households. Member lenders provide the set-aside funds as grants to eligible customers generally on a first-come, first-served basis. Set-aside funds may be used for down-payments, closing costs, rehabilitation, or homeownership counseling costs. Each FHLBank may set its own maximum grant amount, which may not exceed $15,000 per household.
To qualify for a grant, households must meet several criteria. Please contact your nearest FHLBank Community Investment Officer to learn more.
Contact: To find your nearest Community Investment Officer, visit

It is also possible to obtain grants to make property improvements to a property that you own. These are most available in Community Redevelopment Areas and can be found through the municipality you are interested in. These types of grants are often available for commercial and residential properties, and may cover anything from disaster preparedness to exterior paint and landscaping to safety items. Rural areas may benefit from irrigation grants and other incentives from the US Department of Agriculture.

For non-profit organizations that seek to obtain grants to build affordable housing initiatives, the Federal government offers several types of grants for real estate investing. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers community development block grants that usually funnel through a competitive awards process to a municipality that in turn awards contracts to businesses to build houses for the low-income and underserved members of the community.

Contrary to popular belief, the Small Business Administration does not offer grants to start new small businesses, so if you have to invest your own funds to start a non-profit organization, you have to decide whether developing affordable housing will be a career that you will follow regardless of whether you obtain grants and contracts.

Other grants for real estate investing can be found for rural and farming assistance projects, tribal projects, and other miscellaneous specific projects.

If you do fall into one of the covered categories, a grant for investing in real estate may help start you on the road to owning property. You will still have to do the work of researching properties for purchase, making improvements on the property, reselling for a profit to convert extra cash into additional investments, and working up into bigger and more profitable deals. Seeking and obtaining a grant for real estate investing may help a hard working, motivated investor gain the leg up necessary to profit in real estate.

Multiple books exist that state they can supply information on available grants and how to obtain them. Internet searches also are quite useful in finding different types of funding opportunities. Municipal housing agencies are also a wealth of information for finding out about grant opportunities. For more information, try or your local housing agency.

Lisa Merritt is the owner of Pegasus Consulting Group, Inc., and, a real estate listing service. Realtors can post their best deals for free. Sign up for our weekly Top Ten Deals and let the deals come to you.