solution: fair manufactured-home loans

Problem: Owners of manufactured (mobile) homes paying double-digit interest on their loans.

Solution: Fixed-rate, long-term Welcome Home Loans.

After years converting manufactured-home parks to resident ownership, we realized that the homeowners weren’t benefiting financially as much as we’d expected. The reason: Many were paying interest rates of 14% or higher on the loans they’d used to buy their homes.

People bought their homes with personal, “chattel” loans, usually from the home dealer. Even worse, some had used credit cards to finance their homes and were paying interest rates in the 20s.

Manufactured homes in New Hampshire are titled as real estate. But they were being financed—and depreciated—like cars.

Collaborating with six New Hampshire banks and the Ford Foundation, we began offering fair, fixed-rate purchase and equity mortgage loans to manufactured-home owners and buyers. We started in resident-owned communities (ROCs), where cooperative ownership of the community meant land wouldn’t be sold from under the homeowners.

After the Community Loan Fund made more than 200 loans without a single default, the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority also began offering loans to first-time homebuyers in resident-owned communities. By 2008, Fannie Mae began backing loans in pre-qualified ROCs; there are now 10 in N.H. in which residents can get mortgage loans at conventional terms.

Our home loans program was honored in 2009 with the NEXT Award for Opportunity Finance, the top award in the field of community development finance.

We expanded our Welcome Home Loans in 2012 to owners and buyers of manufactured homes on their own land. Since launching the program we’ve made close to 1,300 loans with a cumulative loss rate of barely 3%.

The home loan program continues to look for ways to get people into, and help them keep, affordable manufactured homes. Knowing that two barriers of homeownership are personal/family issues and lack of a down payment/closing costs, we extended our Employee Assistance Program to our home loan borrowers, and offered special assistance for down payment and closing costs.

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