Policy Leaders in Washington, D.C., Meet with New Hampshire Housing’s Homeownership Fellowship Class of 2016

Program offers immersive education in lending, housing

The Fellows in front of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

The Fellows in front of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

New Hampshire Housing has welcomed its Homeownership Fellowship Class of 2016, and they quickly got to work by traveling to Washington, D.C., to speak with political leaders and key mortgage industry officials including Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Kelly Ayotte, and representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Rural Development, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and Ginnie Mae.

The Fellows kicked off their ten month program by meeting with key New Hampshire Housing staff and program alumni to share their ideas about housing issues and how to connect with housing leaders. The initial meeting made sure they could dive into their Washington, D.C., experience, where they met with political and industry leaders to discuss housing and mortgage policy. Following their D.C. experience, Fellows will attend sessions that explore state-level government and politics; the connections between demographics, the economy, and housing; and other affordable housing issues.

Fellows were selected through a competitive process that was open to members of the mortgage lending community. This year’s class includes Corey Bowman, Loan Officer, Merrimack Mortgage Co.; Samantha Canton, Homeownership Advisor, AHEAD; Mark Chalifour, VP/Residential Mtg. Sales, Merrimack County/Meredith Village Savings Bank; Christine Keller, Senior Loan Officer, Envoy Mortgage; Justin Macagba, Mortgage Planner, Regency Mortgage; Michael Pillsbury, Loan Officer, RMS Mortgage; Pamela Riesenberg, Branch Manager, Finance of America Mortgage, LLC; Kathy Sanderson, CMP, Loan Originator, Northway Bank; and Jeff Trudel, Loan Originator, St. Mary’s Bank.

“This will be a unique experience for them,” said Ignatius MacLellan, Managing Director of the Homeownership Division at New Hampshire Housing. “Through this program, they will build their commitment to New Hampshire Housing, interact with national housing policy leaders, and learn how New Hampshire Housing mortgages impact affordable housing statewide.”

As part of the ten month Homeownership Fellowship, the nine Fellows will discuss and learn about the mortgage lending system and the creation of affordable housing in New Hampshire. More information about the Homeownership Fellowship Program can be found at http://www.nhhfa.org/home-ownership-fellows.cfm.

Types of Long-Term Rental Assistance (And How to Get Them)

House for rental assistance blog - pixabayWhen you’re in need of rental assistance, it can be an overwhelming process. Part of the challenge is understanding the different types of assistance and what each can do for you. Here are the types of housing programs you can access and how to get on the appropriate waiting lists.

NOTE: If you are homeless or in danger of losing your housing, please dial 2-1-1. This toll free number is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by people who can refer you to resources for shelters, food, and other basic needs in your area. While they do not provide services, they can connect you with reputable organizations that can help.

Public Housing

Public housing is a development that has rental assistance built into it. Often times these rental housing developments are managed by specific housing authorities. The key thing to remember about applying to public housing is that your rental assistance cannot be taken with you. Since the rental assistance is tied to the apartment you live in, you will lose your assistance if you have to move. Also, depending on your city or town, public housing may not be available.

To apply: If you want to apply to public housing, check with your local housing authority for application and income requirements. A list of all housing authorities in New Hampshire is available on page iii of our Directory of Assisted Housing. (Please note that New Hampshire Housing does not own any properties and therefore does not offer public housing.)

Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8)

The Housing Choice Voucher, commonly called Section 8, is portable rental assistance. Program participants receive a voucher that they can then use to rent or purchase affordable housing, providing it meets certain rent requirements and condition standards. This flexibility, combined with the fact that some areas of New Hampshire do not have public housing, is one of the reasons why Section 8 is often the first source that people turn to when they need rental assistance. The downside is that, because of this, waiting lists are often long. To make things a bit more confusing, there are multiple waiting lists in the state.

To apply: You can apply for Section 8 waiting lists through your local housing authority if your city or town offers a program (see page iii of our Directory of Assisted Housing) , or through New Hampshire Housing. Your best plan of action is to be on both waiting lists, as one may be shorter than the other. As of the date of this blog post, the New Hampshire Housing waiting list is 7-9 years for the majority of applicants. The estimated waiting time for a voucher is based on the number of people on the waiting list, the availability of vouchers, and an applicant’s preference status (preferences that could result in shorter waiting times include households where a member is terminally ill, eligible for nursing home level of care, or participating in certain transitional housing programs).

Other Subsidized Housing

Along with public housing and Section 8, there are some housing developments in New Hampshire that offer subsidized units. These developments may not be managed by a housing authority, but due to federal funding programs, they are still able to offer subsidized apartments.

To apply: You can find a list of these apartments in our Directory of Assisted Housing at the link labeled “Income-Based Subsidized Rental Units Only.” These buildings often have waiting lists, but again—they may be shorter than other waiting times for Section 8. If you find a property you are interested in, start by contacting the property manager for application information and income requirements. In addition, New Hampshire Housing maintains a list of vacant, subsidized units to assist clients in their housing search.

Regardless of which program you are applying to, make sure to apply to as many options in your area as possible. Waiting lists vary; for example, you might find that applying for Section 8 through a local housing authority means you receive assistance more quickly than applying through New Hampshire Housing. Apply to any program that might fit your needs, and make sure to maintain contact with those programs until you receive official confirmation of rental assistance and are settled. While it can be a lot of work to maintain more than one application, it can mean a shorter time waiting for the help you need.

Have questions? Call our Assisted Housing Division at (800) 439-7247 or e-mail rentinfo@nhhfa.org.

The Care and Keeping of a House

tools for blog - pixabayCongratulations! You’ve closed on your home. Whether your home is turn key ready or needs some improvements, it’s key to educate yourself about home maintenance. With some curiosity, time and elbow grease, you can save some money and keep your house in good working order for years to come. Become familiar with these easy maintenance and safety items, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a knowledgeable owner!

  1. Maintain your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. When you first move into your home, test all of the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are in working order. Batteries for smoke detectors should be tested monthly and replaced annually. Carbon monoxide detectors should be tested and, if needed, given fresh batteries twice a year. A handy way to remember to do your routine checks and battery replacements is to do it when daylight savings begins and ends (“spring forward” and “fall back”).
  2. Document your home’s layout. Once your house is set up, take photos of each room. This will provide a record of the conditions of your home in case of flood, fire, theft, or other damages or disasters. Make sure to keep all your mortgage documents and key insurance policies in a safe deposit box at a bank or in a fire proof safe or lockbox at your home.
  3. Make a preventative maintenance schedule. To keep your home in tip-top shape and help retain its value, make sure that you stick to recommended maintenance schedules, especially for your key systems. Heating systems should be inspected annually by a qualified professional, and septic tanks should be pumped every two years. Make sure to check any water or air filtration systems periodically as well. Doing preventative cosmetic improvements, like staining decks or giving trim a fresh coat of paint, will help you keep your curb appeal.
  4. Make affordable energy upgrades. If you move into your home during the warmer months, take advantage of the good weather to make energy upgrades for the colder months ahead. Simple things like re-caulking drafty windows and installing a programmable thermostat can save you cash over time. Keep an eye out for bare water pipes as well. Covering hot water pipes with a layer of pipe insulation can cut down on the energy and cost of heating up your water.
  5. Address hazardous materials. If you move into a home built before 1978, and if it has not been renovated, there is a chance you could encounter lead paint. If lead paint is in good condition it is not a hazard, but chipping paint should be addressed, especially if your household has young children. Lead paint can also be problematic in doorframes and windows, since friction can produce fine lead paint dust. Click here for more information about lead paint hazards and their removal. Radon is also common in New Hampshire. It’s naturally occurring and can be present in both your home’s air and water. Make sure to have a radon test done and install the needed systems to mitigate it if high levels are found.

Ready to take the next DIY step? Search for DIY blogs and YouTube videos related to your desired project to brush up on your skills, or check out books at your local library. Remember, when in doubt or when looking at a large job, hire a professional contractor!

Don’t Overlook These Details When You Close on a Home

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

You’ve pinched your pennies, qualified for a loan, survived the search for a home, and are finally ready to reach the closing table. Time to seal the deal and toast your new home, right? Don’t jump ahead quite yet. Closing on a home involves some details that, when done right, will make sure you can fully enjoy those first days rather than worry about whether or not you missed something. Make sure to check these items off your to-do list:

  • Transfer utilities. It’s a simple thing that can be easy to overlook until the last minute. Check this item off early, ideally a month before you close. Call the utility companies and notify them so you can make proper arrangements to have all utilities in your name as of the closing date.
  • Request a copy of your HUD1 Settlement Statement Form or Closing Disclosure. The HUD1 Settlement Statement Form outlines all fees for the closing and who owes what money to whom. You can request a final copy from your closing agent 24 hours prior to closing. Note that in the near future, the HUD1 Settlement Statement Form will be replaced with a Closing Disclosure, and by law you will receive a copy of it three days before closing. If you receive a Closing Disclosure, compare it to the Loan Estimate you received at the time or your loan application. This will give you time to review the fees and ask questions.
  • Take a final walk-through. If you’ve done your homework, you have already had a full inspection and negotiated about any issues found. But when closing day comes, it’s worthwhile to take one final walk-through to make sure you haven’t overlooked anything, that any items that were agreed to stay with the house are there and in good condition, and that any agreed-upon work was completed to your satisfaction.
  • Have a little financial cushion. Don’t let under-budgeting make your closing day more stressful than it needs to be. The list of fees and expenses a buyer typically pays include the lender’s attorney fees, recording fees, escrowed taxes, homeowners insurance, and points or fees that the lender charges to issue the loan. Make sure you have enough money in the bank to cover the total dollar amount as given by your closing or title agent, plus a little extra so you have some cushion to cover unforeseen costs. If there are unexpected fees or charges that you don’t understand, ask plenty of questions and get the clarifications you need before signing and agreeing to pay.
  • Read, read, read. There will be a lot of paperwork. It’s tempting to assume that since you’ve been discussing everything with your lender and real estate professional throughout the deal that you’re already aware of everything that could be in the paperwork. Regardless, make sure you take your time to read through what you are signing so you understand it fully. Once you sign, you have agreed to everything contained in the fine print for the life of the mortgage, so you don’t want any accidental surprises.

Remember that as you approach the closing table, you have a team of professionals there to help you through the process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your lender or real estate professional before the big day, and when you are at the closing table don’t hesitate to ask questions of the closing or title agent too. Once the deal is done, congrats—you’re officially a homeowner!

Have more questions about homeownership? Visit www.GoNewHampshireHousing.com.

New Program Offers Home Repair and Rehabilitation to New Hampshire Veterans

Builders Care NH Foundation Board of Directors (from left): Richard Benson, President; Tom Dustin, Treasurer; Dave Tille, Director; Tim Sheedy, Director; Buddy Champney, Vice President; Lynette Rogers, Secretary; Dean Christon, Executive Director, New Hampshire Housing

Builders Care NH Foundation Board of Directors (from left): Richard Benson, President; Tom Dustin, Treasurer; Dave Tille, Director; Tim Sheedy, Director; Buddy Champney, Vice President; Lynette Rogers, Secretary; Dean Christon, Executive Director, New Hampshire Housing

Hammers for Veterans to meet need for home improvements

Veterans in need of accessibility improvements or repairs to their home can now access funding to help with the needed work. A new program from the New Hampshire Homebuilders Association called Hammers for Veterans has been formed, and it recently received $25,000 in funding from New Hampshire Housing.

The goal of Hammers for Veterans is to raise funds for providing professional home construction related services to New Hampshire veterans and their families. The program was created after it was discovered that many returning, as well as currently deployed, armed service personnel are in need of renovations to their existing residences. Many have service related disabilities and the renovations may include installation of a wheelchair ramp, remodeling a bathroom, or widening doors to remove barriers in the home that impede mobility. Other needs are simply home repair and upkeep that may not be in reach of the veteran.

The program will provide guidance through the construction bidding process and manage construction activity.

In addition to the grant from New Hampshire Housing the program raises funds annually through the Hammers for Veterans Auction. The online auction (http://www.biddingforgood.com/hammersforveterans) takes place each March in conjunction with the annual New Hampshire State Home Show.

Veterans or their families who have interest in applying for program assistance should contact Andrea Chrisstoffels, Housing Services Manager, Easter Seals NH Military & Veteran Services, at 603-851-3680 or achrisstoffels@eastersealsnh.org. Hammers for Veterans is a program of the Builders Care NH Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.

“The members of the New Hampshire Home Builders Association are extremely grateful for what our armed services people have done for us and continue to do,” said Dick Benson, Chair of Builders Care NH. “The members of our association and our industry are pleased that we do our small part to thank you by helping with needed home repairs and rehabilitation services.”

“Hammers for Veterans fills an important need for current and former members of the military and is a great way to thank them for their service to our country,” said Dean Christon, Executive Director of New Hampshire Housing. “We’re pleased to support this new initiative so it can make a meaningful impact on the lives of service members in our state.”