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Sell More With Maryland!
This article was previously published in the June/July 2019 issue of Maryland Realtor magazine.
Sell More With Maryland!
Happy Homeownership Month from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and the Maryland Mortgage Program! Each June we celebrate the American dream of homeownership and its ability to create positive economic growth for our families and our communities. Purchasing a home is perhaps the largest investment a family will ever make, and it’s often their key to unlocking long-term financial stability. Stable, informed, and invested homeowners form the foundation for thriving communities across Maryland and our nation. National Homeownership Months affords us a moment to reflect on the profound power of our industry and how we can remove barriers to homeownership opportunities in Maryland.
In the past decade, one of the most significant barriers to homeownership that has emerged is student debt. Studies show graduates with student debt wait, on average, seven years longer to purchase their first home because of that financial burden. We want to help people put down roots and grow their families and careers in Maryland as soon as possible. One of the best ways to support that goal is to help these prospective buyers remove student debt as a barrier to owning a home.
This was the rationale behind the creation of Maryland SmartBuy, the first government homeownership program in the country to actively mitigate student debt as part of the home purchase. When it was launched, the program enabled homebuyers with student debt to purchase select properties from the department’s REO portfolio. Since then, the program has evolved and expanded, and now SmartBuy can be used to purchase any home in Maryland if the property and buyer both meet the requirements of the Maryland Mortgage Program.
SmartBuy has been an incredible success. In its current, expanded form, the program has helped 160 Marylanders saddled with student debt purchase homes with an estimated total sales volume of $35.5 million. The program helped retire $4.5 million of outstanding student debt. The average purchase price of these homes is $250,000 and homebuyers had an average of $27,300 in student debt completely forgiven. In fact, SmartBuy has proven so successful that Governor Larry Hogan requested that program funding be significantly increased in his most recent budget proposal. Thankfully, the General Assembly agreed with Governor Hogan, and I am pleased to announce that funding for Maryland SmartBuy has been doubled from $3 million in Fiscal Year 2019 to $6 million for Fiscal Year 2020.
This increase in funding could not come at a better moment. In addition to marking National Homeownership Month, June is also traditionally a month of graduations. A whole new class of graduates will begin their transition from students into this new phase of their lives. These graduates can be potential homebuyers thanks to Maryland SmartBuy.
If you have any questions about Maryland SmartBuy or the Maryland Mortgage Program, please get in touch. Best wishes for a productive and pleasant Homeownership Month.
Assistant Secretary, Division of Development Finance
Director, Community Development Administration
Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development