Even before a model home was ready, potential buyers were flocking to the new Nehemiah town house development in West Baltimore. The attraction: $62,500 houses that come with a package of low-interest mortgage financing for first-time homebuyers with incomes from $11,000 to $35,000.
"It's really a bargain," said Ida Wyatt, president of Homecoming Realty in Baltimore.
Enthusiastic shoppers have not had problems buying the modular houses -- which are produced in a factory and assembled on the construction site -- just from a printed floor plan, she said.
Typical buyers have incomes of about $18,000 and tend to be single parents with an average of two children, Ms. Wyatt said.
FOR THE RECORD - The spelling of C. William Struever has been corrected for the archive database. See microfilm for original story.
Buyers are coming to West Baltimore from all over the state, shadded, pointing out that similar houses in Baltimore County would cost $119,000.
The first houses were put in the ground last week at the first Nehemiah building site, the 1500 block of Retreat Street, in the Penn North neighborhood. In Penn North, 73 town houses will be built.
Construction on 210 more houses in the Sandtown-Winchester community near Carey and Laurens streets is to begin this summer. And the Nehemiah project has been so popular that it is branching out this fall into Cherry Hill, where construction of 28 town houses will start at Spelman and Round roads.
The two-story, brick-front houses in Penn North have three bedrooms, two full baths and feature amenities such as gas heat, central air conditioning, carpeting, a refrigerator and a garbage disposal.
The town houses are 18 feet wide and 30 feet deep and have 1,100 square feet of space -- 1,600 square feet including the unfinished basement.
The $22 million project was orchestrated by Enterprise Nehemiah Development Inc., a joint venture of the non-profit group BUILD (Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development) and the Enterprise Foundation of Columbia.
Developers for the building site are Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse in Baltimore, and the modular town houses were built by the Ryland Group Inc. of Columbia.
After a pre-screening by Homecoming Realty, potential buyers are referred to the Home Ownership Institute of Baltimore, a program formed within the Baltimore Department of Housing and Community Development a few years ago to help first-time homebuyers accumulate the documentation needed to apply successfully for a mortgage.
The institute will pre-qualify potential buyers for the low-interesmortgages.
Mortgage funds come in a package of three mortgages -- from the state, federal government and the city.
The first mortgage is a state Community Development Administration mortgage for $37,500. Those mortgages are available at 4 percent and 5 percent rates for 30-year mortgages for people with incomes under $24,300.
Those earning more than $24,300 and less than $35,000, will pay 7 3/4 percent.
The second mortgage, for $14,000, is funded by the federal Housing and Urban Development Agency. And the third mortgage, making up the remainder, comes from a Baltimore community development block grant.
Although buyers technically will have three mortgages, they will have monthly payments on only the first mortgage. Monthly payments range from $254 to $352, depending on the interest rate and the size of the mortgage.
The second mortgage, which is interest-free, must be repaid only when the house is sold. The third mortgage also comes due only when the property is sold -- and after 10 years the obligation for the third mortgage is eliminated.
Ms. Wyatt, who started selling moderately priced homes in 1983, recently has noticed an upswing in sales to women with and without children and to single men with children.
The major hurdle for most buyers is the lack of funds for the down payment of about $750 in cash, she said.