Special Mortgages To Those Near Bus Stops

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San Antonio Federal Credit Union (SACU) has joined with VIA Metropolitan Transit and Fannie Mae to launch the "Smart Commute Initiative." The program gives potential home buyers who live within one-quarter mile of select VIA bus stops the opportunity to qualify for a mortgage that recognizes the potential cost savings available to users of public transit, and allows qualified buyers to convert that savings into additional borrowing power for a home mortgage.

"Transportation costs are the second largest expense for most households, after rent or mortgage expenses," said Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-TX), who was on hand for the announcement. "For many families, car payments, maintenance, and fuel total almost one-third of household expenses. Smart Commute will help families own their own homes and have more money in their pockets."

The Smart Commute Initiative allows the lender, SACU, to add $200 to the monthly qualifying income of a single wage-earner household, and $250 monthly for a two wage-earner household. The additional income represents a portion of the savings the borrower should realize from using public transportation. For example, a single-income borrower who currently qualifies for $100,000 loan could now qualify for a $117,000 loan through Smart Commute.

According to SACU, there is no income limit to qualify, but all borrowers must meet credit parameters and must also certify that they own no more than two vehicles. Smart Commute mortgages offer downpayments of as little as $500. For the first time, the program is available to people who are refinancing.

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