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USDA lowers fees on loans for Rural Housing Program

| Sunday, Nov. 24, 2002

Residents of rural areas of the state looking to buy new homes or refinance existing mortgages, including those in southwestern Pennsylvania, stand to benefit from recently reduced rates on the guarantee fees for loans under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Guaranteed Rural Housing Program.

Officials of the USDA's Rural Development agency announced that the fee for new GRH loans was cut to 1.5 percent from 2 percent of the base amount of the loan; also, the fee on loan refinancings was reduced to 0.5 percent from 2 percent.

The reduction in fees will help more families in rural area afford home purchases and refinance by decreasing transaction costs, said officials at the Butler and Westmoreland offices of Rural Development, who help administer the program in this region.

For example, on a new loan of $100,000, the savings from the cut to 1.5 percent would be $500; while on a refinancing for the same amount, the fee reduction to 0.5 percent would mean a savings of $1,500.

The program provides the guarantees as an incentive for lenders who actually make the loans, which are targeted to low- to moderate-income residents. Loans may be up to 100 percent of the appraised value of the property, and in some cases, may include closing cots.

However, eligibility is dependent on income limits and certain other provisions. For example, the program will provide refinancing only for existing loans originated under the GRH program.

Those interested in further information, including the names of participating lenders, may call the Westmoreland office of Rural Development at (724) 853-5555, Ext. 121; the Butler office, (724) 482-4800, Ext. 118, or they may visit the agency's Internet site at www.rurdev.usda.gov/pa .

  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently approved over $1.7 million in funding for two projects involving housing for the elderly under its Section 811 (Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities) program.

    ACTION-Housing Inc. received $926,800 toward the construction of eight one-bedroom and 4 two-bedroom units in the Knoxville section of Pittsburgh for very low-income persons with a combination of disabilities, either physical or mental, The units will be located in three buildings.

    A five-year rental subsidy of $183,000 is included, and supportive services will be provided to residents by several organizations.

    HUD also provided $729,500 toward the plan of Transitional Services Inc., in East Pittsburgh, for the rehabilitation of an existing four-story building into eight fully accessible apartment units for very-low income persons with developmental disabilities. A five-year rental subsidy of $122,000 is included.

  • Two members of the Aiello family, both veteran real estate developers in the region, have joined forces to convert the three-story former Holy Family School in Lawrenceville into a 34,000-square-foot office building to be called The Catalyst Building.

    James Aiello Jr., who with his grandfather, Ross J. Aiello, owner of Commonwealth Warehouse & Storage, Inc., in Lawrenceville, are involved in the project, which is expected to cost in excess of $1.5 million.

    James Aiello said the building, located at 41st and Foster streets, will offer 21,000 square feet of leasable space, with a number of amenities located on the basement area. Those include a conference room, fitness area, bike rack and kitchenette complete with dishwasher.

    Other features , an elevator for access to all three floors and basement, have zoned air-conditioning for each floor or area, an outdoor terrace, and is handicapped accessible. include free off-street parking for tenants

    Although no tenant has yet been signed, there is significant interest in the building by a potential large user and several smaller users, James said

  • Dixie Realty Inc. in Bethel Park has shed its affiliation with Century 21 real estate and converted to a Help-U-Sell franchise.

    Realty broker Dino Bello, and his son, Michael Bello, said the change allows home buyers and sellers who deal with the company to decide what services they want from the company in the sale or purchase of a home, then pay a fee for the services they receive as opposed to a commission.

  • Howard Hanna Real Estate Services' recent purchase of the remaining 21 building lots at the Ironwood community at Southpointe in Cecil Township, Washington county, also provided for the merger of the Southpointe Realty group into Howard Hanna.

    In conjunction with that part of the deal, Judi Kovacicek, who will retain her position as sales and marketing director at Southpointe Realty.

    In addition, Hanna will take over operation of the Ironwood sales center, which will also be used as the sales center for Alto Piano, a community adjacent to Southpointe and already marketed by the company.

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