Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Government Aids Homebuyers in Areas with Foreclosures; Local Programs Are Distributing Federal Assistance to Low- and Middle- Income Buyers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Government Aids Homebuyers in Areas with Foreclosures; Local Programs Are Distributing Federal Assistance to Low- and Middle- Income Buyers

Article excerpt

The government is handing out money - often $3,000 to $10,000 - to low- and middle-income home buyers around St. Louis.

If you're earning a decent wage, but not a lavish one, this government giveaway might just put you into a house.

Ask LaShaundra Chambers, 26, a manager at Home Depot. She just moved to a new house in Overland. St. Louis County handed her $7,500 to help pay the $115,000 cost.

"I started looking at houses in July, and this house stood out," said Chambers, who was recently engaged. "It had a two-car garage, three bedrooms, two baths. I plan on getting married and having kids."

A friend told her about a program run by St. Louis County to help put people like her into homes, preferably in neighborhoods where foreclosures are a problem.

"It's wonderful," she said. "I don't know how I could have come up with that $7,500 on my own."

There are similar programs in St. Louis city; Jefferson, Madison and St. Clair counties; unincorporated parts of St. Charles County; the city of St. Charles; St. Peters; Wentzville; and O'Fallon, Mo. The details vary by where you buy.

As the housing market crashed in 2008 and 2009, Congress worried that a wave of foreclosures would damage neighborhoods, leaving homes abandoned and lowering property values.

It started giving money to local governments to buy foreclosed homes, fix them up and resell them. They couldn't sell them cheap - the price was set at the appraisal amount in order to avoid driving down prices of nearby homes. But the program added a cash subsidy for buyers.

St. Louis County now has 11 such fixed-up homes on the market, and it's about to buy more. All are rehabbed with energy-efficient materials and appliances. They should need no major repairs for 15 years, says Katrina Sommer, program manager for St. Louis County.

The county tried to buy in neighborhoods that were threatened by the foreclosure process, but not "past the brink," she said. They tend to be in north St. Louis County and Lemay.

"They wanted the houses to be suitable for sale, so they have to be in desirable subdivisions," said David Schott, an agent with Missouri Online Real Estate, who lists the North County homes. …

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