Arrests in Baltimore for illegal guns often lead to dropped charges or little jail time

Financing that home purchase -- now vs. then

Near the peak of the housing frenzy four years ago, 75 percent of homes sold in the Baltimore metro area went to buyers with conventional mortgages -- loans not guaranteed or insured by a government agency.

Now? Thirty-five percent.

The share of buyers turning to FHA-insured mortgages has increased tremendously in these post-bubble, post-subprime times. Forty percent of Baltimore-area buyers went FHA in July, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems. (That's up from 2 percent in July 2005. Yeah -- 2 percent.) It's such a turnaround that FHA-financed purchases jumped ninefold from four years ago, even though total home sales fell by almost half.

Also up: VA loans, assumptions -- where the buyer takes over the loan held by the seller -- and owner financing. Of course, owner financing deals only rose from 1 to 4, so I wouldn't call that a trend. (Though it is a 300 percent increase ...)

And even in these recessionary times, some people (267 in July, to be exact) do have the means to buy a house with 100 percent down. Fewer people than four years ago, granted, but they represent a greater share of total sales: 12 percent, up from 7 percent in July '05.

One Wonk reader recently got a USDA-backed mortgage. Those loans are for purchases in rural areas that aren't necessarily as rural as you might think -- a fair swath of the Baltimore suburbs is eligible.

Have a financing story? Do share.

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