WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Some credit unions shy away from the FirstHome program because they fear a lot of red tape and hassle, but Dennis Beadle insists that’s no longer true. Beadle should know. He’s VP/mortgage lending at Dupaco Community Credit Union. In May the credit union won honors as the program’s top credit union lender in Iowa for 2004. Generally only large financial institutions such as Wells Fargo ranked higher. Some 400 Iowa lenders participate. Last year DCCU wrote 53 FirstHome mortgages totaling $4,274,530. Beadle expects the program to remain just as robust this year. In fact, he points to a new feature that allows homebuyers to purchase a home with zero down that should make the program even more attractive. DCCU has a couple things going for it. The credit union has a lot of young people among its 39,000 members, just the folks the FirstHome program is targeting. In addition, unlike some areas such as California and Nevada, home prices in Iowa haven’t experienced the kind of bubble that has caused housing price tags to outstrip incomes. Beadle has been with the credit union 10 years, and the program was already in place when he arrived. Through the Iowa Finance Authority qualifying FirstHome buyers can purchase a home with a low, fixed interest rates and no points or origination fees. At the end of May this year the rate was 5.375%. Now there’s a new program, FirstHome Plus, to help people who want to buy their first house but are struggling to come up with a down payment and closing costs. Under FirstHome Plus buyers not only obtain an affordable rate – 5.75% in late May – but also receive cash assistance of up to 3% of the mortgage amount for down payment and closing costs. “There are more lenders getting into the FirstHome program because they see the benefit of it,” Beadle says. “The program has gotten easier to deal with, more friendly to the consumer. It’s gotten better over the years. “Some lenders have heard the program is difficult and cumbersome. That has changed. It’s really no more difficult than doing a conventional loan. But I think there is still that stigma out there that it is.” Beadle will take that message to a meeting of the Credit Union Real Estate Network in July. CUREN is a regional group of perhaps 15 or 20 credit unions. -

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