Good morning, Mr. Speaker.
We are all well aware that we have a housing crisis in our country. Having not invested in proper maintenance nor carried any new building in almost a decade - the result is a dearth of affordable and adequate housing for the people of this country. But be assured there are a number of irons in the fire to address this and I would like to highlight just one of them today - The Bermuda Housing Corporation Home Start Programme.
This programme is available to Bermudians who have never owned a home and are looking to obtain their piece of the rock through first time home ownership. Mr. Speaker this programme is a partnership between the Bermuda Housing Corporation and Clarien Bank and the details are as follows:
- Clarien provides up to 100% mortgages for homes listed in the programme.
- It is available to Bermudians only who are first time homeowners or those who have never owned more than a 25% share in any property.
- Homes listed in the programme are those that are either owned by BHC or by Clarien bank.
- The list can be found at www.bhc.bm/homestart and is updated on the first of each month (the website also contains the details on the programme).
- The programme allows for a total of up to $25M in mortgages to be issued.
- The mortgages are fully funded by Clarien with BHC acting as the guarantor for the 25% down payment amount.
- Once the down payment has been repaid - the bank releases BHC from the guarantee obligation.
Mr. Speaker, in order to insure that the valuations for the homes being purchased are appropriate - there are two valuations carried out on the properties - the first before the property is listed on the website to establish the listing price and the second once an offer has been accepted to support the value of the clients mortgage.
The credit underwriting is conducted by both BHC and Clarien; BHC is responsible for prescreening all applicants and doing the initial vetting of all documents. This includes confirming salary - identifying a likely approved mortgage range to determine which homes will fit within a client’s budget and the credit risk of each client. A secondary credit check is done by Clarien during the mortgage approval process once an offer is accepted and before the mortgage is granted.
Mr. Speaker, Clarien homes are included in the program once the Mortgage foreclosure process has been completed. BHC homes are identified from current stock and added to the programme.
The pricing of the loan must be reflective of the credit support that BHC is providing in the form of a guarantee. A discounted interest rate is offered to clients who purchase a home through Home Start. As an example on a typical home of $500,000 over a 30 year mortgage the client would save approximately $50,000 over the life of the mortgage due to the lower interest rate.
Mr. Speaker, in order to mitigate clients getting into difficulty with their loans/mortgagesBHC conducts prescreening at the outset and discusses these types of issues – which include - reviewing appropriate size of the mortgage based on income and age. Additionally BHC receives a monthly report on clients which allows staff to follow up to discuss any challenges.
Mr. Speaker, thus far nine unit sales have been completed under the programme with 13 more units under contract. There are currently three homes left available while there is scope to expand the number of available homes. For example BHC has been negotiating with existing BHC Mortgage holders who have fallen into significant arrears and who are unable to repay their mortgage. BHC is seeking to list their homes in the programme, as this will enable them to obtain the best price and provide some relief from the debt burden. Listings are updated on a monthly basis on the first working day of the month. New units are added and sold units are removed from the list.
Mr. Speaker, one of the more satisfying aspects of this programme is the graduation of 2 Rent Geared to Income families previously housed at the Perimeter Lane Complex who have spent the last several years in the programme and have saved enough money to put a down payment on their own home. The sense of accomplishment and pride of these families serves as an inspiration to all of us to continue to provide opportunities for more Bermudian families to ‘own a piece of the rock.’
Mr. Speaker, we have seen the success of first time homeowner initiatives in the past and I draw specific reference to the Loughlands Complex where 96 units were sold to both individuals and families, most of whom are still there and successfully managing their mortgages and many who will in short order have paid them off. Yes Mr. Speaker, there was a small percentage that fell behind and had to exercise the option to sell their units, but they are clearly the minority. So Mr. Speaker, we certainly can reap what we sow and see the rewards of our labor in just giving someone an opportunity that they may not have otherwise had. In addition, this initiative allows us to build greater relationships between Government and the private sector.
Mr. Speaker, we are utilizing various approaches to address the housing predicament that we face and I anticipate making another significant announcement in this arena before the House rises for the summer recess. Of course, just as I have done today, informing my colleagues and the wider community, I will continue to do the same as these initiatives are implemented.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.