Rural renewal: As housing market rebounds, so does help

Published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 12:31 PM.

Since cash sales are the trademark of well-heeled investors, and not the average lower and middle income household hoping for a doable 30-year mortgage, Salinard’s conference room bustled Saturday with representatives of affordable housing help.

Amber Lowry, mortgage loan officer with Centennial Bank, was there, along with fellow staffers Brenda Ash and Joan Buckner, to handle banking questions and other private sector loan matters. Michael Ubias was there, a loan specialist from the USDA office of rural development, in Marianna, to talk about the low interest loan program for low income people.

Lowry said the bank works with a range of options from FHA to Veterans Administration, even with some products by USDA. The bank’s interest rate varies, but are at historically low levels. Government issuers typically offer a fixed rate loan, which Ubias said has been running in the neighborhood of 4.25 percent for a 30-year mortgage.

Ubias said his office has not had a lot of activity in the county over the past five years, no more than you can count on the fingers of one hand. The Quincy office closed five years ago.

The terms can be 33-years with a USDA loan, and more flexible, but “credit standards are fairly consistent with what a lending institution would require,” Ubias said.

He said the major advantage is that low income people can qualify for a subsidy, and perhaps receive payment assistance, to meet the terms of their loan. He said it’s a no money down program, with federal funding tied to the Farm Bill now pending in Congress.

Loans are not available to buy used mobile homes, although some money is available to repair mobile homes.

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