Getting started Loans for first-time homebuyers an opportunity not to be missed.

November 22, 1995

ANNE ARUNDEL'S popularity among Baltimore and Washington area homebuyers has a downside. Many of the county's modestly paid residents, particularly young families, find themselves priced out of the market.

It's not that those families -- ranging from entry-level police officers and firefighters to teachers and office workers -- cannot necessarily afford the monthly payments. The difficulty often is coming up with the down payment, the substantial closing costs and other settlement expenses. That's why a new program announced by County Executive John G. Gary is much welcomed.

Taking a leaf from Baltimore City's book, Anne Arundel is now willing to offer second mortgages amounting up to $20,000 to help first-time homebuyers. That would enable a family of four with an annual income of less than $40,000 to buy a starter home for less than $110,000. For someone who purchased a home long ago, those numbers may sound extravagent, but they aren't in this market.

The program is currently limited to people living within five miles of Annapolis, an area that includes such communities as Arnold, Edgewater and Crownsville.

"It's a demonstration program that we hope to make available for the whole county," said Kathleen Koch, executive director of Arundel Community Development Services Inc. (For more information, call 222-7600.)

Ms. Koch estimates that the $430,000 federal allocation will help about 30 households buy a home. To continue the program, "we are looking for all kinds of sources of funding."

According to data from the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, most listings in Anne Arundel are for more than the $110,000 maximum allowed under the program. But enough cheaper housing is available to accommodate families looking for starter homes.

Since June, 100 people have gone through a counseling program offered by the community development group. In addition to guidance on buying a home, perspective owners are given counseling on such matters as household budgeting and cleaning up a credit record. The first-time homebuyer program offers a rare opportunity for families with modest means to fulfill a dream.

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