THE DREAM AMERICA PROGRAM

If you could qualify for a mortgage today, would you buy a house?

Many renters that want to buy a home can’t currently qualify for a mortgage. With that in mind, we launched the Dream America Program to help turn renters into owners. How does it work? We accept applicants that have the income and cash needed for an FHA / VA mortgage, but still can’t qualify because low FICO, divorce, medical bills, self-employment, prior bankruptcy, prior foreclosure or other factors put a mortgage out of reach. Once approved, you pick any house available for sale in your community within your budget, Dream America buys it and leases it back to you. You then go through the Dream America Program to get mortgage-ready. As soon as you qualify for a mortgage, cancel the lease penalty-free and buy your home! And to help you on the journey, Dream America credits 10% of rent paid towards your purchase.

APPLY NOW

HOW IT WORKS

Once qualified, you will go out with your real estate agent to pick the home you want from any available for sale in your area for $150,000+.

Dream America will purchase that home and lease it to you for 12 months.

At any time that you qualify for a mortgage, you can cancel the lease penalty-free and buy your home!

If you still aren't ready to buy at the end of the lease, don't worry! As long as you have been paying your rent on time each month, you can renew for another year.


EMAIL ME DETAILS

REQUIREMENTS

  • 500+

    500 MINIMUM
    CREDIT SCORE

  • $4,000

    $4,000 MINIMUM
    MONTHLY INCOME

  • 50%

    50% MAXIMUM
    DEBT-TO-INCOME

  • 12+

    12+ MONTHS OF
    ON-TIME RENT
    PAYMENTS

  • $5,000+
    CASH

    Savings, 401(k)
    or gift


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Overview

WHAT IS THE DREAM AMERICA PROGRAM? 
The Dream America Program offers aspiring homeowners the opportunity to pick any home available for sale in their community within an approved budget.  Dream America then buys the home you select and leases it to you until you qualify for a mortgage. 

Dream is not involved in selecting your home.  The process of selecting a home is virtually identical to the traditional process that you would go through if you had already qualified for a mortgage.  The difference is that once you find your home, Dream America will buy it and lease it back to you for 12 months. 

During your lease, you will follow a personalized plan to mortgage-readiness.  As soon as you qualify for a mortgage, you can cancel the lease penalty-free and buy your home! 

WHAT ARE THE STEPS INVOLVED?

1) Joining the Dream America Program is a personal decision. Please read the Program guidelines before you Apply

2) Once approved, pick any home for sale in your community that fits your budget.  New construction or re-sale is OK!

3) Dream America will put an offer on the home you select

4) If our offer is accepted, we will order a professional inspection. The inspection report will be shared with you 

5) Make required payments to Dream America and sign Program agreements

6) Closing and Move-in!

7) Buy your home from Dream America as soon as you are ready

How Do I Get Qualified?

What are the minimum qualifications?

+ FICO score of 500

+ Household pre-tax income of $4,000/month (applicant + co-applicant, if any)

+ $5,000 or more cash available from savings, 401k or gift for a $150,000 home.  Higher price homes are eligible, but more cash is then required to qualify

+ Debt to income ratio including Dream rent up to 50%

+ 12-month track record of paying rent on-time

+ U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident Alien

DOES A PRIOR BANKRUPTCY OR FORECLOSURE DISQUALIFY ME?

No!  We have seen it all. For a bankruptcy, you must wait 12 months after the discharge date before joining the Dream America Program.  For a foreclosure or deed in lieu, you must wait 24 months.  Our guidelines are based on FHA seasoning for a mortgage and we don’t want you to have to rent for more than a year before buying your Dream home.

Does a prior eviction disqualify me?

No.  As long as your eviction is more than 12 months ago, you are still eligible for the Dream America Program.

I haven’t filed tax returns. Does that disqualify me?

Yes.  You must file all tax returns including 2019 and submit proof you paid any taxes due or have an approved payment plan with the IRS.  For payment plans, outstanding balance must be less than $10,000.

Is there a criminal background check?

No.  When you apply for a mortgage, there is no criminal background check.  And we are trying to get you ready for homeownership.  However, Dream America will not accept registered sex offenders.

How much cash do I need to join the Dream America Program?

For a $150,000 house, a minimum of $5,000 from savings, 401k plan or gift from a family member is required in order to be considered for the Dream America Program.  Higher home prices require more upfront cash just as they do when you purchase.  Please visit https://www.dreamamerica.com/cash-needed where you will find a calculator to estimate cash need to join Dream America. 


* Subject to underwriting approval, you can qualify with an upfront cash payment as low as $4,950 by adding $140/month to your rent payment on a $150,000 home. Please note, homes with a 12 Month Purchase Price above the FHA limit in your county will require an additional option payment equal to any overage.
Please remember, you will also need to pay the 1st month’s rent prior to move-in.
When do I need to have this cash available?

Payment is immediately due once Dream America has an accepted offer on the home you select (or prior to signing a contract for new construction).  You cannot start the Dream America home search process unless you have funds available.  If you are obtaining funds from a 401k or a gift from a family member, please discuss that with someone on the Dream Team during the application review process.

I want to get into my Dream home, but I don’t have the required cash. Do you make exceptions?

No.  We set the required cash as low as possible to help you become a homeowner in the next 12 months.  The first step in reviewing your application is verifying you have the cash available needed to join the Program.  If you don’t have the minimum required cash to join today, please establish a savings plan and apply in the future.

How do I Apply?

Click here to start the application process:

http://www.dreamamerica.com/apply

After I Apply, how long does it take to get approved?

After you apply, the Dream Team will review your application and ask you to submit supporting documentation showing income and cash available.  Once all requested documents are submitted, you should receive an answer within 2 business days.

What Neighborhoods and Houses Are Available with the Program?

Dream America is currently available in major metro areas in FL, GA and TN.  Once you qualify, you can go out with your agent and pick any home for sale near you. 

Which homes are eligible?

+ Asking price of $150,000 up to FHA Limit ($400,000 max)

+ Single family home or townhouse (no condo or manufactured homes)

+ New construction or resale

+ Homes built or renovated in the last 15 years.  You are responsible for maintaining the home and the last thing we want you to have is big repair bills!

Except for new construction, we order an inspection on all homes before we purchase them and share the report with you.  We then ask the seller to make any necessary repairs. 

How Does Renting from Dream America Work?

Rent is determined by house price, property tax, HOA fees and insurance costs, not by neighborhood.  Dream America charges the same rent on a $200,000 house anywhere in Atlanta, Jacksonville, etc. adjusted for property tax and HOA.

To state the obvious, rent is more expensive than your cost of ownership once you obtain a mortgage!  That is why we offer a penalty-free early lease termination when you buy your Dream home. 

Use this calculator to estimate your rent:

DOES ANY OF THE MONTHLY RENT GO TOWARDS MY PURCHASE?

Yes!  10% of rent paid will be applied as a closing credit towards your purchase of your Dream home if, and only if, all rent payments are made on time.  We make this easy for you by collecting rent automatically from your bank account on the 1st of each month.

Can I afford the rent on the house I want?

Great question!  We want to see all of our clients become homeowners.  But first you need to be able to afford the rent, pay your other bills on-time and build some savings. Please visit https://www.dreamamerica.com/budgeting where you will find a calculator to estimate your rent budget. 


However, we will also look at your other debt payments. The total of your other payments + the Dream rent needs to be less than 45% of your household income before taxes:
Do I have to pay first and last month’s rent before I move-in?

No.  You will only pay the first month's rent and any prorated rent for the month you move-in.  For example, if you moved in mid-January, you would pay half of January's rent and the February rent prior to move-in.

What fees are involved in The Dream America Program?

You will pay an onboarding fee equal to 1% of your home price as soon as we are under contract to buy the home you selected. 

Who maintains the home?

You are responsible for maintaining the home during the life of the lease and thereafter once you purchase it.  Please remember, we order an inspection before we purchase the home and share it with you.  If you aren’t happy with the condition of the home, we won’t purchase it.

As an additional benefit, we insure your home comes with a home warranty, covering appliances, electric, HVAC and plumbing repairs. 

Can I make cosmetic improvements to the home?

Absolutely! You are free to upgrade the landscaping, paint the walls, install new carpet, etc. in your Dream home.  Major construction involving structural changes is not permitted.  You need to buy your Dream home first.

Are pets allowed?

Yes, pets are allowed but they must be listed in the lease.  A non-refundable $250 pet fee will also apply.  Certain pets may be excluded due to insurance restrictions or community standards.

Can I renew my lease and purchase contract?

Yes.  While we want to see all of our clients purchase their home in the next 12 months, you may renew your lease and purchase contract if needed.  At the time of the renewal, the rent and future Purchase Price will both increase by 5%.

Please note, if you pay your rent late two or more times during the initial lease (or Dream files for an eviction even once), the renewal option is void.

Buying My Home. And What if I Don’t Buy?

How does the contract to buy my Dream home work?

The contract to buy your Dream home requires an upfront payment equal to 3% of your future Purchase Price (more on that below).  This payment is not a fee because it is credited back to you when you purchase your Dream home.  This insures that you have funds available towards your down payment and closing costs when you are ready to buy.  It also insures that you are committed to buying your home because you will lose your 3% payment if you don’t buy the home.  

I need to increase my credit score. Will Dream America help me?

All Dream clients will be given a personalized roadmap to help them build their credit during the life of their lease.  In addition, clients must sign the Dream America Pledge which includes steps to increase mortgage-readiness. You may also want assistance to dispute erroneous items on your credit report. Dream can introduce you to specialists that are working with other clients. 

What if I decide I am not going to buy my Dream house at the end of the lease?

Dream America is not a try before you buy program.  We are focused on helping people that are serious about homeownership. If you are not 100% committed to becoming a homeowner, please stop reading this now and look for another alternative.

However, if after renting for 12 months your plans change and you decide not to buy the home you can ask Dream America to sell it.  You must continue to rent on a month to month basis until the house is sold.  We will then split any profit from the sale 50% / 50% with you.  Please note, buying and selling a home involves many transaction costs.  There is no guarantee that there will be any profit to split.  The only thing that is guaranteed is that if you don’t buy the home you will lose your upfront 3% payment.  All of it.

I’m a vet eligible for a VA mortgage.  Do you still need a 3% payment?

Yes.  A VA mortgage has no down payment, but you still have closing costs including a VA fee.

How is the future Purchase Price determined?

The longer you continue to rent from Dream America, the more you will pay when you buy your Dream home.  If you buy your home in the first 6 months, you will pay 6% more than Dream America’s Acquisition Price (the price today plus Dream America’s closing costs).  Thereafter through expiration in month 12, you will pay 10% more.

Is the future Purchase Price a good deal?

That depends on many factors.  The best alternative for you may be to continue to rent and wait to buy in the future once you qualify for a mortgage.  But if housing prices continue to rise, you will pay more in a year than you will today.  Maybe your lease is ending and you need to move now.  And you want to move into your Dream home that you select.  Not just another rental.  Moving to another rental also means that you will have to move twice in the next year – now and when you qualify for a mortgage.  Dream America eliminates the cost and hassle of that extra move.

Also, you should know that Dream can probably get a better deal today than you can on the home you select.  We buy houses with no financing contingency.  This makes us more attractive to sellers and generally allows us to get a better deal.  The less we pay today, the less you pay in the future. 

What if I still can’t qualify for a mortgage in 12 months?

Dream America is not a mortgage lender and acceptance into the Program does not guarantee future mortgage-approval.  However, as part of the approval process, your application is reviewed to see if there is a path to mortgage-readiness over the next 12 months.  If there isn’t one, we won’t accept you.  However, we understand circumstances change.  Things happen.   That is why your lease contains a renewal option. 

What if the house doesn’t appraise for the Purchase Price when I want to buy?

As described above, your Purchase Price is set when your lease begins.  We don’t have a crystal ball and don’t know what the appraisal will be in the future.  In order to bridge any gap, you can first use the 10% rent closing credit (see above for details).  We will also ask the mortgage lender to contribute towards closing.  If that doesn’t close the gap and you need to contribute additional funds due to a low appraisal, Dream America will match your contribution. 

Are there any closing costs?

Dream America pays all upfront closing costs which are then included in the Acquisition Price.  You will pay all closing costs when you qualify for a mortgage and purchase your Dream home.  You can get an estimate of closing costs from a mortgage lender. Please note, your down payment requirement plus closing costs will likely exceed your upfront 3% payment to Dream America.  It is important that you save additional funds during the life of your lease towards closing costs.

I Don’t See My Question!

Dream America strives to be 100% transparent with our clients and partners.  If you don’t see your question here, please call us at (800) 433-6565 or send us an email at info@dreamamerica.com