VHFA unveils low-interest mortgage program

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(Host) The Vermont Housing Finance Agency unveiled a new $10 million low-interest mortgage program today.

Under the program, 30-year mortgages would be available at a fixed rate of 4.75%.

The loans will go to qualified buyers who earn less than $62,000 a year. The maximum home purchase price would be $235,000.

The mortgages would be for new homes in designated developments that the state is targeting for housing growth.

Sarah Carpenter is the executive director of the Housing agency. She says despite a cooling off period in the housing market across the U.S., Vermont is not seeing a slow down.

(Carpenter) “We still have high prices for the average Vermonter. The single family home price in Chittenden County is still above $260,000. The average median income for a family of four in Chittenden County is $70,000, which means all they can buy is a $185,000 house. So, even though we’re seeing some leveling and flattening off, we’ve still got a gap that was created in the last five or eight years that we’ve got to make up for.”

(Host) The housing program is part of Governor Jim Douglas’s affordability initiative.

According to Douglas, the state’s lack of housing supply and increased demand is part of what is fueling the state’s lack of affordable housing.

Carpenter says one of the challenges in offering affordable housing is trying to get developers to offer lower housing prices.

Carpenter: “It is a tough market, because just, as we say, the bricks and the sticks get you up to this level, and you know that’s driven a lot by land and all of the development requirements so and without a really targeted subsidy program for homeownership, it’s been really hard to get them below this level.”

(Host) The $10 million loan program is expected to be able to go to about 50 Vermont families.

The Housing Finance Agency also is working with the Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation to offer two new insurance programs.

One will be free and will offer insurance against losing a job. It would provide up to two-thousand dollars a month for six months.

The other is a low-cost mortgage insurance program.

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