Credit Union to Participate in the Federal Home Loan Bank First Time Homebuyers Program

The Municipal Employees Credit Union of Baltimore (MECU) announced on July 9 that it is the first credit union in the Baltimore metropolitan area to participate in the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta's (FHLB) First Time Home Buyer Program.

This program is designed to help people with low incomes purchase their first home by providing funds to help with down payments and settlement costs.

"A major challenge for many potential homeowners is accumulating the down payment and closing costs," said Bert J. Hash, Jr., president and CEO of MECU. "For low-income families, the ability to save the money needed at closing is often beyond their means. This program provides grants for the down payment and settlement costs for people earning 80 percent or less of area median income."

Through participating financial institutions, the FHLB program matches every dollar the buyer contributes toward their down payment and closing costs with three dollars, up to $3,000. The buyer must put in a minimum of $500.This money cannot be from another grant, settlement assistance or "live where you work" program, but may be a gift from a family member.

The household size and income limit of buyers who qualify for this program are:

1 2 3 4 5 >6
$37,200 $42,500 $47,800 $53,100 $57,350 $61,600

To complement the FHLB First-Time Home Buyer program, MECU offers a First Time Homebuyers mortgage program. This reduced rate mortgage can be used in conjunction with the FHLB program, or may be used on its own by first time homebuyers who may exceed the FHLB limits. The mortgage rate for this program is 25 basis points—or one quarter of a percent—below MECU's standard rate.

Both the FHLB and the MECU programs have several requirements to encourage a sound financial approach toward home ownership. They require that the buyer successfully complete a home ownership counseling program before settlement. FHLB requires that the buyers be owner-occupants of the home, and they must sign a five-year “retention recapture” agreement, stating that if they move out of the home in less than five years they will repay the FHLB a prorated portion of the grant they received. The MECU program states that the buyers must plan to occupy the property as their principal residence.

Mortgages exceeding 80 percent of loan-to-value will require mortgage insurance.

To learn more about the FHLB First Time Home Buyer program and the MECU First Time Homebuyer mortgage program, call 410-823-3300 or 410-752-8313.

Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on July 13, 2003.