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Virginia Heritage Shareholder Profile

Virginia Heritage Bank

It has been seven months since  first-time homebuyer Coronella Devine moved into her three story, three  bedroom, brick townhouse in Capitol Heights, Maryland. Despite the passing  months, Devine says, “I am still smiling the way I did the first time I walked  into my house.”

Devine heard about the  First-time Homebuyer Product through an advertisement playing on her local  radio station. A few hours later, she submitted an application to Virginia  Heritage Mortgage, a division of FHLBank Atlanta shareholder Virginia Heritage  Bank.

“Coronella fit all  of the requirements,” says Virginia Heritage Mortgage banker Kristina O’Neill. “Coronella never thought she could buy a house, but today her monthly mortgage  payment is less than she had been paying in rent.”

Shareholders like  Virginia Heritage, a locally owned and managed, full-service community bank,  use FHLBank Atlanta’s First-time Homebuyer Product to provide down-payment and closing-cost funding to creditworthy low- to moderate-income first-time homebuyers.  In order to receive the funding, recipients  must complete a credit counseling course, which educates them on the homebuying  process, household budgeting, mortgage financing, and debt management.

“FHLBank Atlanta’s  First-time Homebuyer Product helps us make homeownership an attainable goal for  the northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., Metro communities we serve,” says  Virginia Heritage Chief Mortgage Officer Richard Hutchison.

With interest rates  at remarkably affordable levels following the financial crisis, Hutchison says  Virginia Heritage Mortgage differentiates itself from competitors by  focusing on affordability and the first-time homebuyer market. In fact, all 17  of the bank’s loan officers are encouraged to focus on the first-time homebuyer  segment.

“We couple FHLBank  Atlanta’s down-payment and closing-cost assistance with municipality housing  grants,” Hutchison adds.

By all accounts, the focus Virginia Heritage Mortgage keeps on the first-time homebuyer market is a winning strategy. Even in the midst of an ongoing housing slump, in 2011, the  community bank used just over $1 million dollars in Affordable Housing Program  (AHP) Set-aside funding.

Separately, Virginia  Heritage Mortgage also makes significant investments in marketing, which include  everything from posters and mass mailings to grocery cart advertising. “The  FHLBank Atlanta First-time Homebuyer Program is a sales tool for us,” says  Jamie Adkins, Virginia Heritage senior mortgage operation officer. “We sell  FHLBank Atlanta programs first.”

Community Stability Product

In  the meantime, Virginia Heritage Mortgage has added more FHLBank Atlanta AHP Set-aside  Products to its portfolio. One example is the Community Stability Product,  which provides a homebuyer (first-time homebuyer is not required) with  down-payment and closing-cost funding for the purchase and rehabilitation of an  existing unit. Homes that are eligible for the funding must be in neighborhoods  targeted for stabilization by the local, state, or federal government. O’Neill  says the Community Stability Product is making a difference in Prince George  and Prince William counties where the growing number of housing foreclosures  and resulting vacant buildings could otherwise become breeding grounds for  violence and crime.

Accessibility Rehabilitation Product

Virginia Heritage  Mortgage is also improving lives in Fairfax County using FHLBank  Atlanta’s Accessibility Rehabilitation Product. The product provides shareholders with opportunities to  extend new lines of credit to contractors or nonprofits performing home  rehabilitations for homeowners  who need to improve the safety and disability accessibility of their homes

Recently, Fairfax County’s social  services agency contacted Virginia Heritage  Mortgage requesting help with an urgent housing accessibility issue. A  wheelchair-bound homeowner could not leave her house and missed 12 months of work because her home did not  accommodate her mobility challenges. Virginia Heritage Mortgage answered the  call for funding assistance and rather than paying contractors a lump sum,  followed their best practice of engaging with an intermediary like Fairfax  County social services or an agency like Habitat for Humanity to fund rehabilitation  work. Hutchison says the practice ensures accountability between residents and   their contractors. He emphasizes, “As a community bank we are working to do the  right thing for our people and FHLBank Atlanta lets us do that.”

 

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