TAMPA, Fla. -- Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union is helping School District of Hillsborough County employees live the American dream of homeownership.
The over $5 billion credit union has recently launched Home Solutions, an innovative mortgage program for school district staffers.
"This innovative loan helps make home ownership a reality for educators and support staff, especially those relocating to the area," said Tom Dorety, president/CEO Suncoast Schools FCU. "This product can make the difference between homeownership and renting."
Home Solutions offers 100% financing, a reduced interest rate when automatic payment is selected, discounted closing costs and easy qualifying for educators and support staff.
"We actually were approached by the school superintendent if we were interested in coming up with a tool they could use to attract and retain teachers and support staff," said Suncoast Schools FCU Senior Vice President of Lending Don Charron. "It was a great idea and having the school district behind us we jumped at the chance. It was an opportunity to make a difference and help the employees become homeowners." According to Charron, providing district staffers several options was a priority. "Not everyone is in the same situation so for example if someone is new to the area from another state, after moving expenses, they may not have enough for a down payment," said Charron. "Basically the program we came up with is 100% LTV and no private mortgage insurance requirement--essentially saving members lots of money." Not wanting to mandate a specific product the school district employees can choose from five different loan programs ranging from a 30-year fixed and several adjustable rate mortgages to the CUNA Helper Home Loan for first time homebuyers and individuals with household income levels at or below the median income level, which in Hillsborough County is currently $52,150.
Buyers can finance up to $350,000 and receive discounted closing costs--application and credit fees waived. In addition, when buyers enroll in the credit union's automatic payment system from a Suncoast Schools FCU checking or savings account, they are eligible for a reduced interest rate of 0.25%. Suncoast Schools FCU is committing $100 million toward the Home Solution program.
"It took about six weeks to get the program up and running. Because we had the loan products in place it was just a matter of putting all the features together," said Charron. "This is not for investors or purchases of second homes. So far we've closed on three loans, have about 12 applications in process and about 153 members calling excited about the program who have been pre-qualified. With this response we may well be on our way to our $100 million commitment--there may be almost a third in pre-qualifications."
The credit union is working together with the Hillsborough County school district human resources department to promote the program. The Home Solution benefit will be part of the district's recruiting package.
Charron says he anticipates school districts in other counties may also be clamoring for Home Solutions, but for now the program will be limited to just Hillsborough County.
"We want to get some history on this program before we expand it much further," said Charron. "There may be additional needs but in general we don't see any reason why this won't be successful. It's a much tougher market than even a year ago and even though home values have fallen there still isn't a big inventory that falls in the affordable range. So we're here to help." --firstname.lastname@example.org