Some homes just became more affordable

May 13, 2009 4:52:35 PM PDT
There are hundreds of foreclosed homes in Harris County and many of them are just sitting vacant. But in a matter of weeks, families could begin moving into those houses thanks to a new program funded by the federal government.Harris County has $8 million to buy, fix up and then resell foreclosed homes. The money allows the county to sell the homes at a loss to low income families.

Raquel Bazaldua is looking for a new place to live, she's checking out foreclosed homes and has a definite idea of what she wants.

"Something livable, affordable, you know, nice," she told us.

Bazaldua plans to rent, but would rather buy a home. While she may not be able to afford the expense now, in a few weeks that could change. That's because Harris County plans to use $8 million in federal funds to buy foreclosed homes, then sell them for less than the buying price to low and middle income families.

"This allows low income families in Harris County to take advantage of some of the really incredible buys out there with foreclosed properties," said David Turkel with the Harris County Community Services Department.

Turkel says the federal program that passed in 2008 will give the county the ability to buy the foreclosed homes. Under the program, homes cannot be more than 12 years old. The homes are in 22 specific zip codes, mostly on the east and north west side of the county. The program also gives the county the ability to help home buyers get loans.

"We will help them get financing since we are going to offer to sell these home far below appraised value," Turkel said. "They shouldn't have problems getting really good loans."

County officials know some foreclosed homes are in need of repair before they are ready to sell. The program allows Harris County to spend up to $10,000 on fixing homes, houses that need more work will not qualify for the program. As for requirements facing potential buyers, families can't make more than $76,500 or have owned a home in the last three years.

The county hopes to start selling the first homes by June 1 and it is hoped that about 100 foreclosed homes can be bought and sold in the first year of the program. Where can home buyers find the properties for sale?

The county says buyers should contact a real estate agent and inquire about the homes that qualify through them. One thing to point out, home buyers have to stay in the home for several years or pay back the county for the discount. It is hoped that requirement will keep investors at bay.

See which Houston-area zipcodes are available

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