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HARBEL Housing Partnership
First-Time Home Buyers Settlement
& Mortgage Assistance Guide

Home buyers attending a HARBEL Housing Partnership home buyer workshop will receive, in writing, details regarding the programs listed on this page, including income guidelines, and other eligibility requirements, guidelines, and assistance loan terms.

Important Information
• For purchases, using a settlement or mortgage assistance program in Baltimore County and Baltimore City, the following education and counseling requirements must be completed prior to submitting a contract offer on a house:

Baltimore City: Must attend a home buyer workshop and counseling with an approved City housing counseling agency before submitting a contract offer on a house. Several Baltimore City Programs now require 8-10 hours of education and counseling so you may be required to schedule a Pre-Settlement Workshop following your attendance at the Home Buyer Workshop.

Baltimore County: Must attend attend a home buyer workshop, a pre-settlement workshop, and counseling with an approved County housing counseling agency before submitting a contract offer on a house.

HARBEL Housing Partnership is an approved City and County Housing Counseling Agency. For other agencies, visit Housing Counseling Agencies.

• Home buyers will receive an informational guide about the various assistance programs at the time of the home buyer workshop, along with the instructions for the pre-settlement workshop registration and an intake packet and document checklist that is required to complete prior to scheduling of the counseling session.

• The availability of funding for settlement and mortgage assistance is limited.  The guidelines for these programs may change at any time.

• Definition of first-time home buyer -- cannot have previously owned a dwelling within the last three years. Exceptions may be granted for legal separation, finalized divorce or death of spouse and property no longer in your name.  

• To be eligible, programs have specific household income guidelines -- see various websites for details. These details will be include in the informational guide provided at the home buyer workshop.

Home Buyer Workshop Registration: buyers must call our office to register for the initial home buyer workshop.  Office hours, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. -- 410-444-9152. Workshops are held on various days (No Saturday Workshops) and held at various locations within our service area. HARBEL sponsors two-three evening workshops (6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.) per month and one weekday daytime workshop per month. Workshops are free of charge, but contributions are welcome.

Pre-settlement Workshop Registration: following completion of the home buyer workshop, buyers must call of office to register for the pre-settlement workshop.  This workshop is a requirement for buyers in Baltimore County, but open to anyone.

Counseling Appointments: Counseling appointments are only scheduled after the buyer has submitted a completed intake packet and photocopies of all required documents by mail or drop-off at our office.  After a member of our staff has reviewed the intake packet and documents, the buyer will be contacted to schedule the counseling or notify the buyer of missing information.

Contact Information Regarding Settlement & Mortgage Assistance Options in Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

State-Wide Programs
Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta’s First-Time Home Buyer Program (FHP)
A statewide settlement assistance/down payment program for first-time home buyers that meet the low-to-moderate household income requirement.  New funds are available after January 1 every year.  Workshop attendance and counseling are required. Funds are available only through a participating bank, savings & loan or credit union. Buyers must use a participating member bank, savings & loan, or credit union. Lender will order the funds for the buyer.

State of Maryland's Programs
• State-wide 1-800-638-7781
See for specific education and counseling requirements, income guidelines and maximum purchase price for each jurisdiction, state mortgage and assistance options, listing of housing counseling agencies, and participating lenders.

Baltimore County Programs

Baltimore County - Office of Planning, Housing Opportunities Program
410-887-3124 •

The Baltimore County Assistance Programs require the buyers to attend two workshops and counseling prior to submitting a contract offer. The buyer must be first-time home buyers and meet the low-to-moderate household income requirement (provided at time of the home buyer workshop). The funding is limited and available only in designated communities. Baltimore County's SELP, MALP, and NCI is dependent on availability of funding. Eligibility criteria and availability of funding will be provided at the homebuyer workshop.

Baltimore City Programs
Baltimore City CDBG   • 410-396-3124  
Funding is limited. Workshops and counseling are required prior to submitting a contract offer.
Healthy Neighborhoods Program • 410-396-3124  
Check website for details and current participating neighborhoods.
City Employee Program
• 410-396-3124  
Check website for details. Workshop and Counseling are required before contract.
Buy into Baltimore Fairs
• 410-637-3750      
Check website for details.  Workshop and Counseling are required before contract.

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