To promote its low-income mortgage loans and to answer questions about buying a home, Signet Bank is sponsoring seven segments of a call-in radio talk show, beginning tonight at 6 on WWIN-AM radio.
The show, "House Talk," is designed to let low- and moderate-income residents know they can purchase a home and to explain how they can do it, said Gail H. Sanders, Signet Bank's director of public affairs.
"A lot of people are not aware that they can qualify for a loan and buy a home," she said.
Guests will include representatives from local non-profit organizations as well as bank officials who will answer callers' questions.
The 52-week program is being produced by the Center for Affordable Housing, a local non-profit organization that assists low- and moderate-income people in buying their own homes.
The agency, a part of the Real Estate Center, began in 1990 and offers free advice on low-interest loans, renovating apartment HTC buildings, buying property and a host of other real estate matters.
The center facilitates community development by working with other non-profits and getting their message out.
The center is providing the radio show as a method of highlighting strong, non-profit programs designed to assist first-time homebuyers.
The first of the hourlong broadcasts will address credit history.
Subsequent shows will discuss affordability and how to qualify for a loan.
The spots will also provide a forum for non-profit organizations to discuss programs in homeownership counseling and credit counseling.
The radio show will give the non-profit community the opportunity to run free 30-second spots during the program and will feature housing experts weekly.
The program will also highlight promising neighborhoods and stable communities that center clients might find of interest.
The radio program is the first sponsored by a local bank. The idea was to tap into the public relations and financial strength of the bank and merge them with the housing expertise of the non-profit community.
Signet hopes to use the show to promote its mortgage loan program for low- and moderate-income buyers, Ms. Sanders said. The Housing Acquisition and Rehabilitation Program is offered by both Signet and the Bank of Baltimore for the purchase or repair of houses with little or no down payment.
To qualify for the loans, a family with a single wage earner may earn no more than $32,000 a year; families with two wage earners may earn no more than $40,000. Loan amounts vary between $10,000 and $60,000. The fixed-interest charges are set at the current market rate.
Signet has been offering the loan program for more than a year. Ms. Sanders said the bank received a number of queries about the program after she discussed it on a radio show last month.
Encouraged by those results, the bank decided to sponsor "House Talk" on WWIN. The radio station is at 1400 on the AM dial.
Signet is spending $5,600 for the shows, a sizable piece of its marketing budget for community reinvestment projects, Ms. Sanders said.