REAL ESTATE FOCUS: Can?t beat first-time home-buyer loan program

A new program offers first-time home buyers an alternative source of funds.

It?s called, appropriately enough, the First-Time Homebuyer?s Bond Program (Year 2000).

?It?s a great program for those customers who want to buy a home, but don?t have the money for the down payment,? said Jesse Nikkel of Central National Bank, Marion.

The program offers home buyers who have not owned a home for three years a 30-year fixed rate at 8.10 percent. It includes FHA, USDA-RHS or VA loans and provides a 4 percent cash assistance for closing costs or down payment.

The program has a 1 percent origination fee on FHA and USDA-RHS loans, which is shown as a discount fee on VA loans.

?This interest rate beats anything else,? Nikkel said.

According to the program guidelines, the borrower must personally occupy the property within 60 days of loan closing and they must fall within maximum income and purchase price limits.

Home buyers have until May 2001 to close on a loan to participate in the program.

?People are starting to become aware of it,? Nikkel said.

She said a lot of times people know programs are out there, but don?t know much about them.

Most information about this new program is being spread by word of mouth and through real estate agents.

?It?s a program that almost sounds too good to be true,? she said.

She said when she told agents about the program, they would ask what the catch was.

Nikkel said she has had two closings where the borrowers actually walked away with money in their pockets.

The first step in getting the loan is to pre-qualify.

?Don?t sell yourself short,? she said. ?It doesn?t hurt to look into it.?

Nikkel said people can come in for pre-qualification assessments, which are done free of charge in Marion and Hillsboro.

She said they get creative sometimes in helping people qualify for the loans.

?The funds really go fast once people get word of it,? Nikkel said.

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