News

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on July 1, 2015 - 9:24am

Tony Hernandez, USDA Rural Development’s (RD) Rural Housing Service Administrator, visited VHFA to share his plans for RD’s programs and policies for the future. The roundtable format brought together 20 housing leaders from across the state including Rutland, the Northeast Kingdom, and northwestern Vermont.

RD administers two mortgage programs that help rural Vermonters buy homes: the single-family direct loan program and the guarantee program that helps homebuyers who do not have 20% of the home’s price for a down payment. Mr. Hernandez discussed his agency’s work to improve processing and increase automation, which he hopes will improve the current servicing backlog on existing loans as well as speed up processing new loans. He also described similar automation improvements for new multifamily rental properties applying for RD funding.

At the national level, RD is facing a preservation crisis as many of the affordable housing units it funded years ago become at risk of converting to market-rate housing. Thankfully, Vermont’s housing policies as well as the stewardship of the state’s housing leaders and non-profit housing network has limited the impact of this crisis within Vermont. That said, there is at least one property just over the Vermont border that may strain the housing market in border towns if it converts to market rate in the near future.

The roundtable meeting at VHFA was just one stop in Mr. Hernandez’ full day of Vermont activities which also included a visit to Colchester to celebrate National Homeownership Month as well as a visit to recent housing developments in Shelburne to promote a new pilot program that supports lending for energy efficient manufactured housing.

By Maura Collins, VHFA Director of Administration and Policy.

Pictured (from L to R):  Tony Hernandez, Rural Housing Service; Sarah Carpenter, VHFA; David Adams, VHFA; Josh Hanford, VT Department of Housing and Community Development; and Polly Nichol, VT Housing and Conservation Board.

 

 

Posted by: Marina Demas on June 25, 2015 - 2:52pm

A new Appraisal Institute Registry has come out listing both Vermont residential and commercial appraisers who have successfully completed the Appraisal Institute's Valuation of Sustainable Buildings Professional Development Program. Residential appraisers must complete 28 hours of course work and pass three exams while commercial appraisers have to complete 35 hours of course work and also pass three exams.

According to Vermont Green Home Alliance (VGHA), the Registry "enables lenders or their Appraisal Management Company to draw appraisers from a pool of qualified appraisers on a high performance and/or "green" home." The Appraisal Institute Registry really gives a lender's purchasing agent or Appraisal Management Company more self-confidence when hiring an appraiser. 

This new registry is giving appraisers an important new skill set. VGHA writes, "Ever increasing numbers of new homes and significantly renovated homes in Vermont are achieving energy efficiency levels well beyond what has existed in our traditional housing stock and the need for this training is great." An appraiser does not have to be an Appraisal Institute member to be on this registry. It is open to appraisers that meet all of the requirements. Take a look at the registry and learn more about what the program has to offer. 

Posted by: Marina Demas on June 19, 2015 - 9:22pm

The Brattleboro Co-op / Canal & Main Apartments building received the 2015 Creating Community Action Award through HUD Secretary's Housing and Community Design Awards. This site, located in downtown Brattleboro, was redeveloped by the Brattleboro Food Co-op, Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and HousingVermont. VHFA provided Housing Tax Credits as well as long term financing on the project.

The new four-story building provides retail and office space for the Co-op on the first floors as well as 24 affordable apartments on the upper two floors. The Creating Community Connection Award recognizes projects that incorporate housing within other community services for revitalization or planned growth. Windham & Windsor Housing Trust Executive Director Connie Snow says, "The Cooperative Building, with its retail store and housing, has had such a positive impact on the downtown community since it opened."

HUD writes, "The building is a model of energy efficiency, using both conventional and innovative systems, such as heating the entire building with reclaimed waste heat from the store refrigerator system." These features cut energy costs by approximately 50 percent and saves 21 tons of CO2 emissions a year. Read more about the Brattleboro Co-op / Canal & Main Apartments building.

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Posted by: Marina Demas on June 16, 2015 - 12:01pm

The question of whether to rent or buy a home has been a huge issue facing many Vermonters. David Adams, chief of program operations and Leslie Black-Plumeau, research and communications coordinator at VHFA were both interviewed in May by the Champlain Business Journal discussing the issues pertaining to the decision to buy a home in Vermont.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the 2011 Census Data showed that 41 percent of all buyers were under the age of 35. Young-adult home ownership rates have fallen since the housing market crash in 2005. Down payment, closing costs and student loan balances are some of  many reasons why young Vermonters are renting instead of buying homes. 

Adams stated, "There's quite a gap in Vermont between the median household income relative to the median cost of a new home." Housingdata.org shows that the median price of a home in Vermont in 2014 was $195,000. The annual income required to support the mortgage, insurance and taxes was $57,380 as well as $15,939 cash in closing. In order to buy a home, you need to have enough money to make a down payment, have a good credit standing, have a stable income, and positive debt-to-income ratios. Renting in Vermont is not cheap either. Many households are paying more than half their income in rent. It is very difficult for people to save up money for a down payment on a house and maintain good credit while paying rent. 

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Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on June 16, 2015 - 11:18am
Solar projects in communities and homes throughout Vermont will be open for public tours across  the state on Saturday, June 20, the weekend of the Summer Solstice.  The tours will give Vermonters the opportunity to get an up close view of solar systems to earn about the technology, solar economics, and the benefits of solar to the community.
 

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