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'House Baltimore' called a success

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Declaring the first year of the "House Baltimore" partnership a success, city and Fannie Mae officials yesterday offered up proof in the form of first-time homebuyer Troy Redd, then pledged another $25 million in funding for low down payment mortgages.

Mr. Redd, an emergency dispatcher with a family of five, showed off the new three-bedroom townhouse with a rear deck he bought this year west of Irvington through a program to help city employees with down payments and closing costs.

By becoming new homeowners, Mr. Redd and 139 other city workers have become "a real model for many, many other city employees," said Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. "This is good advertising for us to have young families buying here and taking a stake in the city."

Mayor Schmoke and housing officials gathered outside the Redd home on Rock Glen Road as Fannie Mae Vice Chairman Franklin D. Raines announced the latest initiative in a $750 million lending and investment plan started last April to help 10,000 families buy homes in the city.

Fannie Mae, the Federal National Mortgage Association, will make an additional $25 million available through local lenders for Baltimore buyers, who will need down payments of only 3 percent, Mr. Raines said. Typically, lenders require at least 5 percent down.

Under the Fannie 97 program, a buyer with adequate income for monthly mortgage payments can borrow up to 97 percent of the home's appraised value or the sales price, whichever is less. Buyers can earn no more than the area's median income of $49,400.

Since Fannie Mae first announced in April 1994 that over the next five years it would purchase mortgage loans from local lenders and make investments totaling $750 million, "a good deal has happened and we've made good headway," Mr. Raines said.

He noted that the percentage of loans to minority and low- and moderate-income borrowers increased in 1994, while loan percentages decreased overall.

As part of its investment strategy, Fannie Mae worked with the city to establish the Employee Homeownership Program in October. the city earmarked $2 million annually to lend up to $10,000 for down payments and closing costs to workers who rent or who haven't owned a home in three years.

Of the 140 settlements thus far, sale prices have averaged $78,248, said Thomas H. Jaudon, chief of the city's Home Ownership Institute development division.

Mr. Redd, a city Fire Department employee, said he and his wife, Laura, chose the city after finding that the assistance program would allow them to buy a new home for less than an older home in Baltimore County.

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