Baltimore providing grants to buyers of 50 homes to promote ownership

June 09, 2000|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

Baltimore is offering $3,000 grants to the first 50 buyers who purchase homes in the eastern half of the city after attending a free homebuying tour June 17, city officials announced yesterday.

A similar offer will be made in September for buyers who purchase homes on the west side as part of an effort to promote homeownership in the city, officials said.

"We are showing people that with hard work, they can be a part of the American dream," Mayor Martin O'Malley said in announcing the offer at his weekly news conference at City Hall.

This is the second year the city has offered a "Buying Into Baltimore Home-Buying and Trolley Tour Fair," one of 17 city programs to encourage homebuying.

The programs are an attempt to boost the percentage of city residents who own their own homes and to halt the decline of population in Baltimore. Last year, 95 houses were sold at an average price of $81,000, officials said. About 80 percent of the homebuyers were city residents, they said.

Under the program announced yesterday, the $3,000 grants can be used to aid with down payments or closing costs, and can be used in addition to any other city homebuying assistance program.

To be eligible, a contract must be signed within 90 days, and closing within another 90 days.

The grants can go to any homebuyer, but the mortgage may not exceed $252,700. The buyer also must agree to use the property as a principal residence and use a lender approved by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the federally chartered companies that purchase mortgages from lenders.

"We're essentially eliminating the predatory lender in these programs," said Thomas Jaudon, head of the city-run Homeownership Institute.

Potential homebuyers must visit at least four open houses on the trolley tour, which will include four tours through several east-side neighborhoods. But the grants are not limited to east-side houses on the tour.

A homebuying fair featuring real estate agents, lenders and community representatives, will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at City College, 3220 The Alameda.

Information: 410-539-1369.

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