“Questionable Spending” – from Capitol Hill to Rocky Top

There are always two sides to every story, and both sides rarely receive equal consideration when the story is told, most especially the way the story is told.

Such is the case with NewsChannel 5 Investigative Reporter Phil Williams’ relentless pursuit of one of the most efficient agency models in state government, the Tennessee Housing & Development Agency, or THDA for short.

The investigative reporter even suggests their motto “Leading Tennessee Home” should unofficially be the song “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” a humourous twist that got viewers and lawmakers’ attention, but certainly not the true picture of the agency, its employees, and accomplishments.

Former THDA Director Ted Fellman arrived at THDA in November 2005.  His leadership transformed the agency from a beaurocratic behemoth to a well-oiled machine.  I have been in Real Estate since 2000 and have observed the agency evolve first-hand.

What used to take weeks to process now is accomplished in 24 hours or less.  The THDA staff gets the job done rather than “pass the buck” to someone else in another area, which we have all experienced in dealing with government agencies.

THDA employees take their job seriously and enjoy it.  You will see them speaking at Rotary Clubs at 7:00 am as well as Realtor and other functions late in the evening.  They believe in their organization.  They believe in their mission.  They produce results.

I know this not only from past experience, but from proudly serving on THDA’s Realtor Advisory Board.  The agency is constantly reaching out to the public sector for input and ideas on how their organization can make an even larger difference in the lives of Tennesseans.  In THDA offices, you can feel a spirit of cooperation and teamwork among everyone there.

Ted Fellman brought a culture to THDA that produced results.  Experts agree that incorporating FUN into the workplace dramatically increases productivity.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS http://www.robinthompson.com/makingworkfun.htm

Instead of public ridicule from a TV station, Ted Fellman and the Staff of THDA deserve a sincere THANK YOU for becoming a nationwide model for effective housing finance agencies.  If the rest of the country recognizes this, why can’t we?  That’s the side of the story that needs to be told.

SEE MORE ABOUT RECENT THDA AWARD HERE  http://tn-tennesseehda.civicplus.com/archives/41/NCSHA%20Awards.pdf

Moving forward,  THDA Director Ralph Perrey needs everyone’s support.  The agency has accomplished so much for Tennessee and its productiveness need not be hampered in any way from outside sources.

Even though THDA does not spend taxpayer dollars and derives its revenue from other sources, Phil Williams did bring attention to the fact that those dollars were public dollars, which is a very valid point.

The public dollars that were spent by THDA on team-building exercises and employee rewards actually increased productivity.

That said, let’s go to Knoxville and investigate the spending habits of the University of Tennessee, where the spending of public dollars has not increased productivity.

One doesn’t have to go far….a severance package of $5 million for a football coach, who knows how much severance for Assistant Coaches, etc.  What about the salaries for the replacements?  And what do they do for fun?

They will say they are not spending taxpayer dollars, but revenue generated from the “program.”

Just like THDA does, except no one is going to question a thing….ever.  Not even Phil.

In response to allegations, THDA Director Ralph Perrey says the agency is only going to spend money on what make sense for its mission and eliminate anything questionable that lawmakers would not understand.

It would be much easier to eliminate what they do understand.  Enough said.

Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, 615.896.0019  direct 615.593.6340.  Specializing in new home sales in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Gallatin, Clarksville, and Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Nashville New Homes: Need a helping hand? Know someone that does?

The past several years have been financially hard on many Tennessee families.  Even though the Middle Tennessee economy is rebounding, there are still those that may need a helping hand.

Tennessee is one of 18 states that is eligible to receive funds from the “Hardest Hit Fund.”   The great folks at THDA are the ones administering this program, which is called “Keep My Tennessee Home.”

From the THDA Keep My Tennessee Home website:

Homeowners who qualify for financial assistance may receive up to 18 months of monthly mortgage payments and/or funds to pay past due mortgage payments to bring the mortgage current; these funds are paid directly to the loan servicer/lender.

To qualify for the Keep My Tennessee Home program, a homeowner must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be unemployed or underemployed (a 30% reduction of income) through no fault of their own. The event or incident which results in unemployment or substantial underemployment must have occurred after Jan. 1, 2008.
  • Have a mortgage for a single-family home or condominium (attached or detached) in Tennessee that they occupy as their primary residence. This includes manufactured homes on foundations permanently affixed to real estate that they own.
  • The combined amount of your mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance must be greater than 31% of your household income after the job loss/reduction of income.
  • Not have more than six months’ reserves of liquid assets, that is, liquid assets equal to six months of their mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance.
  • Have a household income less than $74,980.
  • Have a total unpaid principal balance not exceeding $226,100.

Above are the basic eligibility criteria. Meeting these criteria does not guarantee eligibility for the Keep My Tennessee Home program.

This is one program that many people are not aware of.  It is out there and it is available. 

Now YOU know.  Others need to know.  Please pass the word!

 

Trey Lewis is VP Sales & Marketing for Ole South Properties Inc, Tennessee’s largest independent home builder,  615.896.0019  direct 615.593.6340 or email TLewis@olesouth.com.  Specializing in new homes in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Clarksville, Gallatin, and Spring Hill, Tennessee.

 

Nashville New Homes: Zero downpayment available to even more home buyers.

This morning, while reading Leneiva Head’s blog about THDA’s foreclosure prevention program, it hit me that I had forgotten to do something.

http://leneivahead.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/theres-a-way-to-keep-your-home-foreclosure-prevention-assistance/comment-page-1/#comment-61 

Yes, I had forgotten to post about some recent changes from the great folks at THDA, who are always on the forefront of ways to boost home ownership!

Everyone should know that down-payment funding for FHA loans is still available for eligible first-time buyers through THDA’s “Great Start” program.  To be eligible, your household income cannot exceed certain limitations and the price of the home you are purchasing must fall below a certain amount.

 On August 1st, the income limitations were raised!  These revised limitations bring the reality of home ownership within the reach of many more first-time buyers.

Lets look at the Greater Nashville area, including the adjoining counties of Rutherford, Williamson, Sumner, Cheatham, Wilson, and Robertson:   A first-time home buyer can purchase a home with ZERO out of pocket if the home price does not exceed $226,100.   A buyer’s household gross annual income cannot exceed $79.440 for 1-2 person households.  If the household contains 3 or more, annual gross income can be as high as $92,680.

For eligibility in nearby Maury County, the home purchase price cannot exceed $200,160, with gross income limited to $70,320 for 1-2 person and $82.040 for 3 or more person households.  Maury County is a designated “target” county and you do not have to be a first-time buyer to take advantage of THDA programs.

Like with any loan program,  there are additional credit score and debt ratio requirements for eligiblity.  Visit www.thda.org for all the details.

If you are looking to purchase a new home, and like the idea of keeping your down-payment, you will want to explore this program.  We have homes available right now in almost every community that can fit within the guidelines.  Visit us today and find out why Ole South is Tennessee’s # Home Builder!

www.OleSouth.com

Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, 615.896.0019  direct 615.593.6340.  Specializing in new homes in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Clarksville, and Spring Hill, Tennessee

 

Nashville New Homes: Work Equity as your New Home Downpayment?

What is the one thing that everyone in this world has in common?   A FUTURE.  

That’s right…everyone has a future of some kind.   Although there are no guarantees in life, there are steps each one of us can take to make our future more stable and secure.  Owning a home is one such step that everyone can position themselves to take.  Your future really can be in your own hands.

Home mortgage criteria has changed a lot over the recent years, but that doesn’t mean it has to be more difficult to purchase a home.  It just means you have to provide more proof of your ability to be a responsible homeowner. 

FHA loans are the most widely used programs, where 3.5% of the purchase price is required as a downpayment, without exception. 

WAIT A MINUTE…. aren’t there ZERO DOWN home mortgages?  Technically, NO…. but actually…. YES! 

In Tennessee, there are loan programs where the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (www.THDA.org) will grant first-time buyers up to 4% of the purchase price to be used toward the downpayment and/or closing costs. 

If the seller of the property agrees to pay your closing costs, which Ole South will, you can use the THDA Great Start grant for your downpayment and administrative fees.   How does THDA do that?  What is the catch?

There is no catch.  The fixed interest rate for loans using the downpayment grants are slightly higher than those FHA loans with your actual down-payment.   If used responsibly, the Great Start program can be a very useful tool in financial planning. 

With today’s historicaly low interest rates, the money you would normally put down can be used to pay off other debts with higher interest rates.  A trusted mortgage professional can help you evaluate your options.  I happen to know many, so please let me know if you would like to know more.

There are other ways in addition to THDA to secure a downpayment.  You may have a relative or close friend that will give you the money, which has to be documented in the form of a gift letter affidavit that no repayment is required or expected.

And there is another provision that has been around a long time, but has basically been forgotten….WORK EQUITY.   Most builders hate it because it really is a pain in the ass to deal with.  BUT, it is a tool that can bring willing homebuyers to the closing table much quicker!  We offer the program at Ole South and you do not have to be a first-time buyer to participate!

FHA allows the seller to credit the buyer an amount up to $2.00 per heated square foot living area for painting the interior of the home, including all wood trim and doors.  The seller can also furnish the paint!  Please remember in your negotiating, that is the maximum allowed amount and the builder can get the same job done for 1/2 of that amount. 

You can also receive “work equity” credit toward your required downpayment for seeding and strawing your own lawn.  And the seller can furnish the grass seed and straw as well!

Lets do the math using an 1800 s/f,  $150,000 new home example, which Ole South offers plenty of choices.  (www.OleSouth.com

The required down-payment is $5,250.   Paint the home and you can receive $3,600 credit toward your downpayment.  You can seed and straw a typical new home yard and receive approximately $750.00 credit.  That leaves your total cash out of pocket at $900…. and you still get to take full advantage of the lowest rates available!

History proves that over time, owning is always better than renting.  Why not improve your financial future today by visiting one of our Middle Tennessee neighborhoods in Nashville, Smyrna, Murfreesboro, Spring Hill, and Clarksville?  Find out why thousands of home owners are proud to say:

Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, 615.896.0019  direct 615.593.6340.  Specializing in new homes in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Clarksville, and Spring Hill, Tennessee