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The loan arrangers

The Hagerstown Home Store administers a variety of programs to help people get money to purchase homes in the city.

The Hagerstown Home Store administers a variety of programs to help people get money to purchase homes in the city.

June 02, 2002|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Money, money everywhere and not enough people are applying for it.

Officials at the Hagerstown Home Store are practically trying to give away money to help people buy homes, but so far only one person is seriously considering their offer.

"I guess really I'm frustrated because we're making such an effort and we don't want home buyers to miss the opportunity," Home Store Director Patricia E. McMillan said.

McMillan was talking about the Home Store's Home PRIDE program that provides loans for purchase and renovation or to lower interest rates to people buying homes in eligible areas. In each case the buyer must live in the home.

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The loans of up to $20,000 don't have to be paid back if certain conditions are met. The $500,000 pool of money the city has is available only this year.

The program, which uses state Community Legacy money, expires on Jan. 30, 2003, so applications should be in no later than Dec. 31, McMillan said.

"Time's wasting. Money's available. Don't waste the opportunity," said Barb Spielman, housing adviser at the Home Store.

Home Store officials hope the money will cover 30 loans.

"The great thing for buyers is there's no income limits," McMillan said.

Many of the loan programs the Home Store promotes have maximum income limits.

There is a maximum purchase price for a home - $144,336 - but that shouldn't be a problem since the homes eligible for the loan program don't usually cost that much, McMillan said.

The home must be within a certain geographic area.

The eligibility area includes the neighborhood of North Potomac Street and Broadway, the Fairgrounds neighborhood and part of downtown, McMillan said.

For a listing of eligible homes available, contact the Home Store at 301-797-0900 or visit its Web site at www.hagerstownhomestore.org.

"We were looking for areas that had some strength to them," McMillan said.

The Potomac-Broadway neighborhood has attractive architecture and front yards. The Fairgrounds area has a solid neighborhood base.

"The city government understands the value of having homeownership increase in all areas of the city for all income levels," McMillan said.

There are about 16 to 20 properties on the market within the eligible area.

Up to $20,000 can be secured to help pay closing and renovation costs. The minimum loan amount is $5,000.

A Federal Housing Administration-insured first mortgage and a Community Legacy zero-interest, deferred second mortgage are used to buy and renovate a home.

If the participant lives in the home for 10 years, the money doesn't have to be repaid.

For the second type of loan, up to $20,000 can be secured to reduce the cost of a FHA-insured first mortgage by lowering the interest rate. That results in lower monthly mortgage payments.

For this type of loan the participant must live in the home for five years for the loan to be forgiven.

For either type of Home Pride loan, the buyer must match 3 percent of the acquisition cost, McMillan said.

Both types of the Home PRIDE loan have $250,000 available.

If one type of loan turns out to be more popular than the other, the money can always be switched from one program to the other, McMillan said.

Participants must complete home buyer education through the Home Store. Home buyer education consists of a workshop and a private consultation with a housing adviser.

People can apply for one or the other type of loan, but not both, McMillan said.

People interested in this loan program should tell their Realtors and lenders, Spielman said.

"It really ends up on the back of the buyer to say to the Realtor and lender that 'there's special financing available and I want to take advantage of that,' " Spielman said.

That's part of what home buyers learn during the Home Store's free workshop.

"Ask all the questions you want to ask. It's your money," Spielman said.

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