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Help for home buyers

September 22, 2005

There are several government-funded programs to help prospective home buyers in Hagerstown.

The city of Hagerstown runs the Single-Family Homeownership Program and a low-interest second mortgage program for targeted neighborhoods through the Community Development Department.

Both programs are paid for with federal grants administered by the city.

There also is the Hagerstown Home Store, a privately run operation that receives most of its funding from federal grants administered by the city.

Single-Family Homeownership Program

Those who meet certain income guidelines might qualify to purchase a home the city has purchased and completely renovated. Since 1992, about 85 homes have been sold through this program.

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Income limits for program participants are on a sliding scale. For example, the maximum income level for a household of two is $37,800; for a family of four, it is $47,300; and for a single-person household, $33,100.

Second Mortgage Program

The city's Second Mortgage Program offers mortgages with an interest rate of up to 4 percent to qualified buyers.

Loans typically are about $4,500 and are intended to help a buyer pay closing costs and other fees, or offset any difference between the amount of the first mortgage and the price of the property.

Income limits for loan recipients are on a sliding scale. For example, the maximum income level for a household of two is $35,150; for four, it is $43,900; and for a single-person household, it is $30,750.

For more information on either program, call the Department of Community Development at 301-739-8577, ext. 136.

Hagerstown Home Store

The Hagerstown Home Store, which opened in January 1999, is a source of information and financial guidance for prospective home buyers.

The Home Store is operated by the Hagerstown Neighborhood Development Partnership, a nonprofit organization. All of its services are free and available to anyone.

About 1,370 people have attended twice-monthly workshops at the store at 21 E. Franklin St. in Hagerstown.

The workshops are the first stop for people who think they want to buy a new house. Lending, real estate and home insurance professionals volunteer for each workshop, which also features a video on the home-buying process.

Those who choose to continue working with the Home Store then meet with housing adviser Barb Spielman for financial counseling. Spielman reviews an applicant's finances to determine how much he or she can afford to pay for a home.

More than 1,500 clients have participated in pre-purchase counseling workshops and more than 800 homes have been purchased by approved applicants.

The service is confidential, available to anyone and free except for a $16 fee for a credit report used by Spielman to examine a prospective home buyer's finances.

For more information, call the Home Store at 301-797-0900 or visit www.hagerstownhomestore.org.

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