Bill could give big boost to first-generation homebuyers in Minnesota

Some lawmakers want to give hopeful first-time homebuyers a leg up and part of a major bill could put some much-needed buying power in their hands.

"There's a huge number of people that were never able to ever buy into homeownership, so they don't have anything to pass down to their families," said Rep. Esther Agbaje, (DFL-Minneapolis).

Minnesota consistently ranks poorly in studies that look at the racial wealth gap. One of the more recent studies by WalletHub last year puts Minnesota third and the racial gap in homeownership ranked fourth. Homeownership is closely linked to the wealth gap.

"We know homeownership is one of the fastest ways to do that in the United States, and we want to make sure people who've been traditionally left out of that have a chance to do that now through this bill," said Agbaje.

Representative Agbaje hopes to be part of changing that. Her bill to help first-generation homebuyers is now part of the Housing Omnibus Bill. It includes $150 million, with hopes to help 4,000 first-in-their-family homebuyers.

There are income limits, and it requires a pre-approved loan, but it's limited to buyers whose parents never owned a home either. Down payment assistance in a forgivable loan is capped at 10% of the purchase price, no more than $32,200.

"Not only is it community stability but community safety," she said.

She believes it can do more than help close gaps by reducing the cycle of renting, which can improve entire neighborhoods.

"We're really hoping for long-term investment in our communities, in our people, and more Minnesotans to make sure they feel at home in this state," she concludes.