The National Association of Realtors offered a grant to each state level organization (for us, the Virgin Islands Territorial Association of Realtors or VITAR). The grant is named after Ira Gribin, and is in the amount of $50,000. Two of the conditions for receiving the grant were that the fund had to be self sustaining and also help impact home ownership. Belton Jennings our CEO of VITAR, wrote the grant proposal and secured the funds for the territory. The money will be used to assist with closing cost for first time home buyers.
Closing cost can be prohibitive when you are trying to purchase your first home anywhere. Inspections, lawyers fees, the appraisal, down payment, and insurance is especially high in the Virgin Islands and can take a toll on one's pocket. For a concrete dwelling, insurance can run as high as 2% of the value of the home, annually. If the home is constructed of wood the premium can go as high as 3% of the value, annually. It is rare to find habitable homes valued under $200,000 in the territory, especially if you have a family.
At our annual meeting on St. Croix, Delegate Donna Christensen was in attendance speaking on the importance of preserving the secondary mortgage market and helped to make the presentation of the funds. I was also present, as president of the St. Thomas Board of Realtors, along with BJ Harris, president of the VITAR, Sherrymae Morales, president of the St. Croix Board of Realtors, Adrienne Williams, Interim Executive Director of Housing Finance and Lisa Richards Director of Home Ownership (pictured above).
The seed money will be used to establish loans with a ceiling of $5000 per household for qualified buyers. The loans will be at the very low interest rate of 2%. Half of the interest will go to help cover administrative costs for Housing Finance and the other half will help to perpetuate the fund.
Housing finance can be reached at 777 4432 for more information on these loans.