Monday, July 09, 2007

First-time home buyers throughout Tarrant County can tap into a $15 million home mortgage program starting Thursday that helps cover down payments and closing costs.
The program is also available to people who have not bought a house in the last three years.
The home loans, however, must be generated between Thursday and Oct. 1, 2008, by eight mortgage lenders that can draw from the pool administered through the Tarrant County Housing Finance Corp., county officials said.
"This helps young families that don't have the savings to get into their first home," said Patricia Ward, the county's community development director. "It's important to maintain stable communities through homeownership."
The Single Family Mortgage Revenue Bond Program offers several advantages, including:
Low interest rates. The county mortgages are all for 30 years at a fixed interest rate of 6.38 percent, Ward said. That's below the market interest rate of about 6.75 percent, said Judith Smith, one of the participating lenders.
Financial help. Home buyers are given a closing cost and down payment assistance grant of 4.5 percent of the loan, said Brian Cramer, the county's assistant community development director. On a $100,000 loan, for example, the buyer would receive $4,500.
Low down payments. The required down payment is generally between 1 percent and 3 percent of the home's cost, Cramer said. The down payment for a regular market mortgage can range from nothing to 20 percent and sometimes more, Smith said.
To be eligible, a family of two can earn no more than $63,400; a family of three or more, $72,910. And the homes cannot be valued at more than $237,031, officials said.
Residents in Arlington and Grand Prairie are not eligible because those cities don't participate, Ward said. To assist qualified first-time home buyers in Arlington, the Arlington Housing Finance Corp. has been issuing bonds since 1997. Last year the corporation backed $8 million.
The Tarrant County program was last offered in 2005, Ward said. Since then, 111 families have participated. The program is typically offered once every two years, she said.
Grapevine real estate agent Barbara Nunn said she will present the program to her first-time home buyers.
"It will definitely make Grapevine more affordable," she said.
For more information, call 817-850-7940 or go to
Staff writers Patrick McGee and Susan Schrock contributed to this report.
Home loans
The mortgage companies participating in the program with the Tarrant County Housing Finance Corp.:
Countrywide Home Loans,
Home Loan Corp.,
Judith O. Smith Mortgage,
WR Starkey Mortgage,
DHI Mortgage Co.,
Market Street Mortgage Corp.,
CTX Mortgage Co.,
Source: First Southwest Co.


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