York, Nebraska, Jun 21, 2012 -- Cornerstone Bank, USDA Rural Development and the Nebraska Investment Finance Agency (NIFA) celebrated National Homeownership Month today in York, Nebraska, with a presentation to the Jonathan and Amy Curtis family of Aurora for their achievement as first time homeowners. Jonathan was a youth pastor at Pleasant View Bible Church in Aurora and now owns and operates his business in Aurora, Curtis Custom Woodworking, and does unique home renovations and builds furniture. Jonathan and Amy are the parents of a 4 year old Ella and 18 month old Issac and are expecting another child in December.
National Homeownership month is celebrated each June to highlight the important role housing plays in creating jobs, maintaining viable rural communities and contributing to the economy. This year’s Homeownership Month theme is “Now is the Time.” Mortgage interest rates are at or near record lows and housing prices are more affordable than they have been in nearly a generation. It is essential that programs are available that offer affordable and stable lending products for first time homebuyers in particular.
“We feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to purchase a home with the help of the Rural Development home loan program. We are now living our dream of owning our own home,” said Jonathan Curtis.
The Curtis family had previously been renting for five years and was able to purchase their first home with 100 percent financing provided by Cornerstone Bank through the USDA Guarantee Rural Housing (GRH) Program, in conjunction with NIFA.
“We are pleased to have helped the Curtis family in moving from renters to homeowners,” said Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul, USDA Rural Development. “A home is not only a financial opportunity but is also an investment in the family and community.”
“Cornerstone is pleased to partner with the USDA Guaranteed Rural Housing program and NIFA to provide opportunities to folks like the Curtis Family. Cornerstone believes that first time homeownership is essential to maintaining and growing our communities,” said Vice President and Manager, Dennis Ferguson, Cornerstone Bank of Aurora.
USDA Rural Development has two loan programs that provide affordable homeownership opportunities to rural Americans: the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan program, and the Single Family Housing Direct Loan program. Both these programs allow for 100 percent financing and affordable rates and terms. Eligibility is based on income, acceptable credit and repayment ability and the property must be located in rural areas with populations not exceeding 20,000.
The Nebraska Investment Finance Agency (NIFA) program allows first time homebuyers to purchase a home within the state of Nebraska. The NIFA program typically offers lower interest rates with a 30 year fixed rate provided through participating lenders. Interest rates are currently at 3.5 percent.
Cornerstone Bank has been an active lender that participates with the USDA GRH and NIFA Housing programs, to help rural Nebraskans to live the American dream of homeownership. In 2011 and to date in 2012, Cornerstone Bank has assisted 47 families to become first time homeowners, totaling over $3.8 million in homeownership investments in rural communities.
Housing not only provides a safe home for families, but also generates economic activity through construction jobs and results in direct real estate industry impacts relating to Realtors, banks, title companies, insurance, home furnishing sales, etc. Housing supports communities through an increased tax base and provides an available workforce. Available housing is important in bringing businesses to a community and provides a place “where jobs sleep” and allows families to live in communities where they work, and reduce energy costs.
Households interested in homeownership opportunities may contact their local USDA Rural Development office which can be located at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/ne/Contact_Us.htm. Visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/ne for additional program information. You can visit the Agency eligibility website at http://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov to determine if you are within the established income limit based on the size of household and county and if the property is located within an eligible area.