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VOL. 127 | NO. 240 | Monday, December 10, 2012

Wells Fargo Funds Start Homebuyer Program

By Andy Meek

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A major effort to help people buy and keep homes in Memphis and Shelby County has launched, thanks to funding received by Memphis and Shelby County from Wells Fargo.

The Memphis-Shelby County Helping Homebuyers program is providing down payment assistance of up to $15,000 to qualifying borrowers who buy and live in a home in the city or county. The funds also can be used for renovation.

Down payment assistance totaling $4.5 million is available.

To qualify, applicants must meet criteria including household income not exceeding 120 percent of the area median income, which is $71,000 for a family of four.

Wells Fargo is providing funding as part of a deal reached with the city and county to end a lawsuit against the bank over its lending practices here. That agreement, reached earlier this year, has resulted in Wells Fargo providing $7.5 million to the city and county.

The $4.5 million in down payment assistance comes from that total. United Housing Inc., a nonprofit group providing homeownership services to low-income, middle-income and first-time homebuyers, will administer the down payment program.

“We believe buying a home is a rewarding achievement that everyone should experience, but it’s tough to accomplish,” United Housing executive director Tim Bolding said in a statement. “As the nonprofit member of this program, the United Housing team is happy to help facilitate an applicable solution that could be the answer for prospective homebuyers in Memphis and Shelby County.”

The program launched a few weeks ago with a workshop at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. Wells Fargo was the presenting sponsor of the event, at which several lenders were present.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell announced the program at a home in the Scenic Hills neighborhood that was renovated by United Housing using federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds. That three-bedroom home also is for sale and available for help through the down payment assistance program.

Interested homebuyers must meet specific program requirements to be eligible for down payment assistance and benefits.

• They must be approved for home financing.

• Household income must be equal to or less than 120 percent of the area median income.

• They must attend homebuyer education sessions before closing. The sessions are available through United Housing or a HUD-approved counseling agency.

• They don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer.

• If they currently own a home, it must be sold before closing, and it cannot be rented or leased.

The first step in the process is getting a preapproval, which will determine the price range before a borrower begins searching for a home. Contacting a local home mortgage consultant or United Housing will begin the process.

The borrower will be asked to provide documentation of income and assets. A website, www.helpingmemphishomebuyers.com, has been set up which walks borrowers through everything they’ll need to do to prepare.

“Today, despite low home prices and historically low interest rates, many families are still unable to purchase a home because they struggle with making the down payment,” Wells Fargo’s Memphis market president Tom Patronis said in a statement. “In this way, we can help get people in homes across Memphis and Shelby County by providing money to make homeownership affordable.”

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 72 238 10,116
MORTGAGES 103 297 13,172
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 20 60 2,598
BUILDING PERMITS 192 562 24,086
BANKRUPTCIES 75 227 9,760
BUSINESS LICENSES 20 71 3,674
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 126 390 14,353
MARRIAGE LICENSES 15 68 3,131

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