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Program Makes Mfg Housing Loans Easier, Cheaper

Pilot program in New Hampshire

Nov. 6, 2017

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU New Hampshire Union Leader (Tribune News Service)

Neighbors Ron Therrien and Dave Bucceny take a break from yard work Wednesday at Medvil Cooperative, a resident-owned community for those 55 and older in Goffstown, New Hampshire. A new Fannie Mae pilot program is making it easier and cheaper for people to buy a home in resident-owned parks.

"My major headline is: great for individual buyers in New Hampshire and a wonderful opportunity to change the financing system for manufactured homes," said Ignatius MacLellan, managing director of the home ownership division at the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority. "That's why we're very excited about this."

The program, in which New Hampshire is the sole participant, provides for smaller down payments, lower interest rates and 30-year loan options for manufactured homes -- often referred to as mobile homes -- located in approved resident-owned communities. Current owners also may be able to refinance their existing loans.

"The fact a manufactured home could get a 4.875 (percent), 30-year-fixed interest rate with a low down payment is nothing short of incredible," MacLellan said.

So far, Fannie has approved eight resident-owned communities for participation in the program with plans to add others, MacLellan said.

In New Hampshire, 123 of 450 mobile home parks are resident-owned.

Kim Capen at the Medvil Cooperative, a resident-owned park of 301 homes in Goffstown, said the program will boost the number of potential buyers.

"If you have a lower interest rate, you could afford more house or you can have more disposable income," said Capen, a past president and former treasurer at the cooperative.

"This just levels the playing field" with traditional single-family homes, Capen said.

It also opens up more housing options for people, since manufactured homes often are cheaper than single-family residences.

"In today's market, low- and middle-income borrowers are having a very difficult time competing in the market and the beauty of buying a manufactured home in a ROC community is the price tag is more affordable to low- and moderate-income people," MacLellan said.

He expects the average loan to be between $50,000 and $80,000.

Fannie Mae spokesman Aleksandrs Rozens called it an "initiative," and not a pilot program as some others have termed it.

Medvil Cooperative is a 55 and older community in Goffstown. Resident-owned parks like Medvil can petition Fannie for approval to participate in the new manufactured-housing mortgage program.

New Hampshire got the program because it is the only state that legally allows "folks in manufactured homes to basically buy a share of their resident-owned community," Rozens said Friday.

He said "the way it works is akin to a co-op in Manhattan."

In terms of becoming eligible, he said, a resident-owned community "is subject to a review by the Fannie Mae project review team. An application form, along with a number of supporting documents including financial statements for the most recent fiscal year-end, are submitted for evaluation."

Adam Gidley, assistant manager at Salem Manufactured Homes, said he wishes the program would be extended to all mobile home parks. His companies owns and manages two parks in Salem and one in Portsmouth, and manages a third Salem park.

"It doesn't really help us and makes me beg the question: Why do resident-owned communities get a benefit that other communities don't?" Gidley said.

MacLellan said resident-owned communities offer a better chance that Fannie would get its money back if it needs to foreclose on a property.

Mobile home owners in a resident-owned park own a share of the community and the right to occupy a specific site there. So from a loan security standpoint, Fannie could recoup more money in a foreclosure than if someone was leasing land at park owned by a third party, MacLellan said.

The finance authority sent out flyers to 1,100 people at the eight eligible mobile home parks informing them of the initiative.

The finance authority is going to be working with five lenders, including the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, which helps with financing housing.

People buying mobile homes in some cases pay interest rates of 8 to 12 percent compared to 4 or 5 percent for single-family homes, according to Tara Reardon, director of ROC-NH, which helps residents of manufactured-home parks in New Hampshire with loans and technical assistance.

People can get into the market easier with only needing a 5 percent down payment, said Reardon, who works for the Community Loan Fund.

Gidley said sales are "very strong" for manufactured homes, even atypical ones: He pointed to the pending sale of a $305,000 manufactured home in Portsmouth with 1,800 square feet, an attic and attached garage.

"I would say the economy, and I would just say it's definitely a seller's market right now as far as real estate goes," Gidley said.

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Copyright (c) 2017, New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester, N.H.

Distributed by Tribune News Service.

This story was distributed by TNS - Tribune News Service
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