By Scott Pendleton, writer of The Christian Science Monitor
The Christian Science Monitor
THE Resolution Trust Corporation hopes to dump 1,100 houses in Texas over a two-week period in November.
Under its affordable-housing disposition program, the thrift cleanup agency will auction off the houses to low- and medium-income bidders.
There will be no minimum sales price. At an RTC auction in New Orleans last June, houses sold for as little as $200.
"This is not a moneymaker for the RTC," spokeswoman Teresa McUsic observes. "This is a social program."
In the two years since Congress created the RTC, the agency has closed or sold 564 insolvent thrift institutions and liquidated or collected assets exceeding $179 billion.
The affordable-housing program was established at the same time to give a silver lining to the S&L debacle, Ms. McUsic says. The program reserves homes in the RTC's portfolio that are worth $67,500 or less for buyers who earn less than 115 percent of the median income for that area.
Nonprofit organizations and public agencies can also buy the houses.
The homes to be sold next month are the bulk of what the RTC owns in Texas. McUsic says the agency won't be getting many more. "If nothing else, we're just running out of thrifts here."
Texas, where much of the S&L crisis occurred, makes up one of the RTC's regions all by itself. Previously here, the agency had sold its affordable housing by sealed bid. McUsic says 13,000 offers were received on 7,600 houses that it inherited from the foreclosure portfolios of 137 defunct institutions.
"There's a huge demand out there," she says.
So far, buyers with low incomes (less than 80 percent of the median) have about equaled buyers with moderate incomes (80-120 percent).
The November sales drive will be the first open outcry auction in this region. And taken together, the nine consecutive auctions in different cities around the state will be the largest the RTC has undertaken.
Over half of the houses are in Houston and Dallas. The remainder are spread among San Antonio, Austin, and five other cities.
For an individual, a qualifying income ranges from $27,000 to $35,000, depending on the city. For a family of four, the range is $37,000 to $50,000.
In Houston, for instance, an individual could qualify with an income of $33,150. A couple could earn $37,900. People shouldn't assume it's just for poor people, says Tawriah El at Grand Capital Mortgage & Investment Inc. …