City loans get buyers into homes Closing costs are the focus of $2.5 million fund BALTIMORE CITY

August 11, 1993|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Staff Writer

The housewarming yesterday for Abdulkadir and Jacquelyn Clayborne-Said drew 25 bankers, community leaders and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who cut a yellow ribbon stretched across the front door of the couple's three-bedroom home in Northeast Baltimore.

The guests, gathered on the front lawn, applauded.

The couple was the 200th participant in the city's Settlement Expense Loan Program (SELP), a $2.5 million loan fund that helps homebuyers meet Maryland's high settlement costs. The program began in January.

The Saids, who purchased their brick home on Belvedere Avenue for about $94,000 this summer, said they could not have closed their deal without the SELP loan.

"When I heard about it on television, it was almost instant -- TC wanted to apply," said Ms. Said, a 32-year-old social worker. "It came naturally. We always wanted to get a house. But unless I could have gotten a cheaper house, we could not have afforded to settle on our own."

Under SELP, home buyers can borrow up to $5,000 for closing costs at five participating local institutions: Signet Bank, Maryland National Bank, First National Bank of Maryland, Loyola Federal Savings Bank and the Municipal Employees Credit Union.

Funds for the program were realized from a municipal bond sale.

The SELP loans must be repaid at 9 percent interest over a 10-year period.

There are no income limits to qualify for the program.

So far, SELP has lent $850,500 to 204 mortgagees, said Thomas H. Jaudon, chief of the city's Home Ownership Institute Development Division. Forty other loans, totaling $165,000, are under consideration, he said.

The average SELP loan has been $4,100 and the average price of a home bought under the SELP program has been $70,000, Mr. Jaudon said.

"Homeownership opportunities are great in our city," Mr. Schmoke said. "Everyone who has participated in SELP has had a remarkable experience."

The program's success has surprised housing officials, Mr. Schmoke said yesterday.

The strong response has prompted the housing department to increase the limit on the cost of a home that can be bought under the program from $100,000 to $151,750, he said.

The city has established a hot line -- 1-800-229-SELP -- and will advertise the SELP program on Mass Transit Administration buses, light rail cars and in the Washington, suburbs to encourage people to move to Baltimore, said Daniel P. Henson III, city housing commissioner.

"We are selling Baltimore as a great place to live and a great place to own a house," he said.

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