Herald JournalHerald Journal, March 8, 2004

First-time home buyers have more choices in area

By Lynda Jensen

First-time home buyers may find many more choices in in the local area with the state increasing the limits for home purchases recently.

The state’s action, which was to increase the acquisition cost limits, means that prospective home buyers will be able to qualify for higher priced homes, commented Don Welker of Community Lenders, which is owned by Community Bank Winsted.

The move was long awaited by bankers and caused developers and some real estate agents to cheer.

“This is exciting news,” Welker said.

The numbers rose from $114,000 to $189,682 in McLeod County, which is a good leap, Welker said.

Wright and Carver counties, which are considered part of an 11-county Twin Cities metro area, went went up as well, but not as much, going from $204,183 to $261,900.

Tony Matcynski of Grass Lake Farms in Winsted received the news with enthusiasm, saying that some homes in his development would fit well under the new criteria.

“It can’t be anything but good news,” commented Jerome Karl of Fahey Sales Agency based out of Hutchinson. Karl has sold homes in Winsted and Lester Prairie.

“I think it’s awesome that they (the state) finally decided to do something,” said Realtor Linda Schwerin of Edina Realty, based out of Delano.

The McLeod number actually changed twice last year, going down and then up, said loan officer Eric Fuchs of Community Mortgage Lenders.

Complaints caused the number to be adjusted the second time, Fuchs said.

“It’s actually a very good program,” he commented.

“It has a lower interest rate than other conventional loan programs,” he said. The program is dependent on income, he noted.

The program is designed to help with down payment and closing costs, so buyers can get in a house with no money down whatsoever, Fuchs said.

Buyers can also get assistance with mortgage payments for the first few years, he said

“Not every bank participates in this kind of loan program,” he said. The state keeps a list of banks that qualify for it.

Other real estate agents took the news positively, but urged caution in choosing a loan, especially since the interest rates are so low, and a first-time home buyer loan may not be the best deal for a prospective buyer.

“Talk to your lender,” advised Collene Fogarty of Good Neighbor Realty of Howard Lake.

“Make sure you know what you’re getting into,” she said.

She also underlined the importance of working with local entities, since they know their customers personally.

Realtor Jim Peterson of Lakes Area Realty in Howard Lake noted the importance of looking at all the options, saying that there are numerous other loan programs to consider for the best deal.

“There’s so many other choices (for loans),” he added.

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