The Iowa Finance Authority announced today a new initiative to increase capital investment and homeownership rates in targeted neighborhoods of ten Iowa towns. Finance Authority Director Mike Tramontina says the “Home First” program for first-time owners is being expanded so you don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer to qualify. And income limits and price rules are increased in this program. Tramontina says several cities have seen unscrupulous lenders taking advantage of low-income residents who want to buy homes. City officials have told him the abuse is worse in Davenport than in Des Moines. Tramontina says buyers with a limited income don’t have to do business with questionable lenders, because the buying process can work through this program. Tramontina says the program’s being expanded in targeted neighborhoods of ten Iowa communities. Those are: Des Moines, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Sioux City, Davenport, Council Bluffs, Ames, Waterloo and Fort Dodge. As the Finance Authority announces the new program today, a community group plans to educate the buyers. Minnie Mallard with the Des Moines branch NAACP says as financing is expanded for homebuyers, her group and others are setting up workshops and classes to help them be better buyers and owners. They can learn about choosing a house and understanding their own credit rating, she says. Mallard knows about the schemes that take advantage of low-income people who’ll bypass regular lenders in their hopes to get financing. She says education will help buyers avoid them. How much house can you afford? A new program to help low-income Iowa buyers own a home will begin with classes, giving a buyer the information that will make them a good homeowner. The NAACP’s Millie Mallard says many people would like to own a home but don’t know where to begin or even what questions to ask.She says part of owning a home is paying not only the mortgage but also utilities, repairs, and learning how to go about borrowing the money. Some unscrupulous lenders will offer special deals to low-income buyers, or sell homes on “contract” that may revert to the seller. Mallard says buyers can learn to look for things like breach-of-contract rules in the fine print:The Federal National Mortgage agency, “Fannie May,” will partner with the state to expand low-cost mortgages under the new program.
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