Industry Watch


August 22, 2004

AccuBanc program to help public-sector workers buy homes

AccuBanc Mortgage announced a new program last week aimed at helping public-service workers buy homes.

The program, called Home for Heroes, is designed for a variety of professions including teachers and full-time employees for police and corrections departments and sheriff's offices, according to the company.

Accubanc, a division of National City Corp., said other employees eligible include those who work for universities, hospitals, utilities and airport or port authorities.

The company will expand debt ratios up to 45 percent to those eligible to help them qualify for a loan. Customers also might be allowed to buy without a down payment, AccuBanc said.

Some mortgage companies have worked to establish homebuying programs for public-service employees during the past year as home prices have raced higher. Government and business leaders said the higher costs are making buying a home harder for people in professions such as teaching, nursing and public safety.

Tax-cap drive in Ocean City near total for referendum

OCEAN CITY - Nearly 900 people have signed a petition calling for a tax-cap referendum in October, drive organizers said. That's almost three-fourths of the 1,200 signatures needed to put a proposal on ballots during Ocean City's election.

The group's proposal would keep Ocean City from increasing its property tax rate more than 2 cents over the state-estimated constant yield rate each year.

At least 887 signatures have been collected, said petition-drive organizer Sue Compton. If the petition drive succeeds, a yes-or-no vote on the tax cap would be part of the municipal election Oct. 19.

New Web site offers advice on homes in `quiet' areas

A new Web site promises to offer advice on homes that are in quiet neighborhoods.

The site:, "certifies" homes for sale that are "quiet" - though one must bear in mind that quietness is in the ear of the beholder. The site awards this so-called certification to homes that claim to be "in a quiet neighborhood, on a low-traffic street or in an area free of major industrial eyesores."

Unfortunately, it cannot guarantee that your neighbor will not decide to mow his lawn at 7 a.m. every Sunday.

The site, as of a few days ago, had nothing for sale in Maryland.

Home appreciation added to

One of the earliest Internet tools for homebuyers was, which rates schools and school districts based on test data. Now the site has paired that test data with data on house-price appreciation within a given high school's area.

A detailed report costs $64, though the site will offer a summary free (and you have to go through some annoying registration rigmarole to get to it). Within its summaries, it breaks down home-value distributions by price range - 11.8 percent of the homes are valued at $200,000 to $299,999, etc.

Bankers offer online help to ease homebuyers' stress

If you look upon the home-buying process as stressful and confusing, you're hardly alone.

A mortgage-industry trade group recently surveyed people who were planning to buy homes, and a majority used those words - stressful and confusing.

The group, the Mortgage Bankers Association, took what it learned from the survey and created a Web site intended to walk consumers through the maze. It also clearly explains such dreary but vital concerns as credit scoring and the nuts and bolts of various kinds of loans.

The site is broker-neutral in that visitors will get no pressure from mortgage brokers. It can connect you with one, but only if you ask. The site is www.home

Compiled from Sun staff, Associated Press and Chicago Tribune reports. The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing Newspaper.

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