Citizens get home-buying advice at fair

Tony Parra

Mayor Orlando Ortega dubbed the housing fair on Saturday a “great success” with over 120 people from across eastern New Mexico participating in the event.
Officials from the United States Department of Agriculture, Fannie Mae Foundation and the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority met with individuals interested in buying a new home.
“As you can see the interest is here,” Ortega said about the audience. “There is a program out there for you if you are interested in buying a new home. This is a step to educate ourselves and our citizens on the programs. I stress to you, if you’ve been turned down when buying a new home don’t give up. There is a program for you.”
Ortega, Development Director Darla Wilhoit, local contractors and bankers met with prospective home buyers on how to get them into a new home. People took time to meet with lenders and program officials at their exhibits to see which option is the best for them.
Some prospective home-buyers have run into obstacles before in buying a new home and now are trying to see if there are other options.
“I tried to get a loan for a new home a while back, but the interest was too high,” Jerry Villanueva said. “I’ve been here (Portales) all my life (54 years). I’ve been renting most of my life and I feel it’s money I’ve thrown away instead of putting it to a new house.”
Villanueva said he is looking for a two-bedroom, two-bath house and said so far, the USDA program appears to be the best option for him.
Hugh Frank, a firefighter from Arch, said the USDA and Mortgage Finance Authority programs appear to be the best options for him. Frank, who is married, said the fair alleviated one of his biggest obstacles in buying a new home.
“The biggest obstacle for me is trying to get out and meet lenders,” Frank said. “I work six days out of the week and I can’t meet them during normal business hours. This brought a lot of the information to me.”
Frank said he will review the programs with his wife and see in what direction they will go. Others are looking to buy a home to raise their children in. Jason and Cora Lawhorn have three children between the ages of 4 months to 4 years.
“They (exhibitors) have been helpful,” Cora said. “There’s a lot of information on programs and down payment assistance. Part of the obstacle is seeing what you’re approved for and then finding a house.”
Eastern Plains Council of Governments Executive Director Leland Tillman said the Family Self-sufficient Program is another helpful program for first-time buyers. The program allows people on public assistance to save money through an escrow account. Tillman said if the person receives an increase in pay at their job, that money will go into an escrow account and accumulate interest.
The person can then can access the money after they’ve saved enough for a down payment on a home, but the requirement is that they have to be off of all forms of public assistance within five years.
Tillman said someone from Clovis was able to save up $10,000 and used it to make a payment on a new home.
The USDA program offers a guaranteed rural housing loan, which has no down payment and the homebuyer only has to pay 2 percent at closing which covers all mortgage insurance requirements. There is no loan limit, the home-buyer has to become income eligible and the home must be in a eligible rural area.
The NMMFA also has home-ownership programs such as the mortgage saver, payment saver and smart choice.
“I’m very encouraged with the turnout,” Tillman said. “There are many busy people interested in buying a new home, who took the time out to see what home ownership program will work for them.”