Gwinnett County Launches Neighborhood Stabilization Program

On June 25, 2009 Gwinnett County announced its Neighborhood Stabilization Program (GCNSP) to a group of REALTORS and Mortgage Professionals.   The GCNSP is a program to purchase foreclosed homes of sub-standard condition then rehabilitate and return those homes to market with the hope of stabilizing Gwinnett County home values.  Additionally, the program will provide affordability assistance to potential buyers by way of homebuyer counseling, down payment assistance and a “forgivable” second mortgage.  Under the program, homes will be available to low, moderate and middle income home buyers.

The GCNSP will receive funding from a July 2008 program of grants to local and state governments, enacted by Congress.  Gwinnett County has been allotted $13,512,054 towards the program, of which $10 million is from HUD with the remaining portion from the State.  This pre-TARP program is expected to have 100 homes rehabilitated and under contract by September 5, 2010, and provide the same results for the next 4 to 5 years through the recapture of invested funds.

Since Gwinnett County is not positioned to buy, renovate and sell houses, a group of Asset Managers has been assembled to administer the process.  The Asset Managers are a team of local contractors and REALTORS® selected through proposals submitted to the County.  The Asset Manager’s role will be to identify properties to the county believed to be suitable for the program.  Once selected, the Asset Manager will purchase, own, manage, rehabilitate and finally market the properties. 

For a property to qualify for the program, it must be lender owned with lender holding title.  Short sales, potential short sales, pre-foreclosure and fresh off the courthouse steps are not eligible for the program.  The home must already be vacant and built in 1978 or later.  This includes single family homes both attached (townhomes) or detached (stand alone).   Guidelines for purchase price and HUD requirements also apply.  Areas of Gwinnett have been ranked by census tract using the HUD estimated foreclosure abandonment risk score.  This ranking will provide the foundation for allocation of funds.  Higher risk areas or areas of greatest need will be targeted directly with the State level funding, while Federal level funding will be dispersed across the county. 

Foreclosed properties are identified by using information from Listing Agents, Financial Institutions, Tax Records, Real Estate Listing Services/Websites, the FHA and GCNSP.  Once properties have been approved for the program, GCNSP provides the funds for Asset Managers to purchase the homes and carry them through the process through from rehabilitation to final market sale.  Rehabilitation can be extensive to include some or all of the following: new flooring, heating/cooling systems, updated kitchens & baths, paint inside and out, replacement of polybutylene plumbing, new roof, landscaping, windows, decks, sidewalks & drives, siding and energy efficiency upgrades.  Once upgraded, Asset Managers will work with their real estate agents to market the properties for sale.  Listings will be made available through common real estate marketing practices using both MLS systems, and any other places/methods with which the real estate brokerages participate.  GCNSP will also print brochures in 4 different languages and distribute through schools and community centers.  Additionally, the county will maintain a website with available homes at www.nspgwinnett.com.

Buyers eligible to purchase GCNSP homes are first time homebuyers, single parents*, surviving spouses of military servicemen and servicewomen or spouses of public protectors, homebuyers employed by governmental units, educational providers or health providers.  *Can not own other residential property at time of contract to purchase.  Any of those listed must meet program income requirements.  Buyers must invest at least 1% of purchase price, qualify for a 30 year fixed rate first mortgage, complete 8-hour pre-purchasing clasee from a HUD approved housing counseling organization, and must be buyer’s principal place of residence.  Affordability assistance in the form of down payment assistance (up to $7,500) and a “soft second” mortgage (up to $15,000) is available to home buyers.  The “soft second” funds can be used to set up escrows, buyer’s closing cost, homeowner’s insurance, association fees, other settlement costs and/or applied to principle.  The “soft second” is made at 0% interest and is forgivable over a 15 year period.

Click here to view the GCNSP implementation flow chart, or here for a program summary.  Visit the county website at www.nspgwinnett.com for further information.

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