Signet Bank joins low-cost mortgage plan

A program to provide low-cost loans to first-time homebuyers in Maryland got a significant shot in the arm yesterday as several groups joined the year-old effort.

Signet Bank/Maryland and three community housing associations joined with the Bank of Baltimore and the Maryland Alliance for Responsible Investment to bolster the activities of the Housing Acquisition Rehabilitation Program.


The mortgage and loan program provides $10,000 to $60,000 to low- and moderate-income homebuyers to both purchase and repair homes in the state. The 30-year, fixed-rate loans are primarily intended to help prospective homebuyers convert existing properties in Baltimore, the two banks said.

"We have identified the need for an acquisition-rehab loan product to aid the first-time homebuyer and are pleased to be working in partnership with the local communities, the city and the state in the furtherance of the affordable-housing initiative," said Edward M. Hill II, vice president at Signet Mortgage Corp., a unit of Signet Bank/Maryland.


Under the program, the Bank of Baltimore, through its Atlantic Residential Mortgage Corp., has committed $2 million over a five-year period and has said it will provide $30,000 to help cover the community groups' administrative costs this year. Signet Bank has also agreed to pay $30,000 in costs this year and provide $1 million in loans.

The Bank of Baltimore said it has closed on 13 loans, approved four others and has 10 pending under this program, for a total of $788,000. The 13 loans were all in Baltimore, said Jeanette M. Grezak, a spokeswoman at the Bank of Baltimore.

The St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center, an affiliate of the Maryland Alliance for Responsible Investment, will serve as the central agent for accepting and processing loan applications. The Belair-Edison Housing Service, Coalition of Peninsula Organizations and Northwest Baltimore Corp. have joined South East Community Organization/Southeast Development Inc. to help refer interested borrowers to the program and provide counseling.

The two banks and the Maryland Housing Fund, a division of the state Department of Housing and Community Development, will insure the loans, the banks said.