Princeton to launch home mortgage program for low- to moderate-income employees

Princeton University is launching a new program to help low- to moderate-income employees purchase a home.

The program, which becomes available in early November, is open to faculty and staff members and is being made possible by a partnership between the University and PNC Bank. It consists of: a home buyer education course for employees; a below market rate mortgage that PNC has developed especially for first-time home buyers with low to moderate family incomes; assistance with closing costs; and access to real estate professionals (real estate agents, home inspectors, surveyors and attorneys) who have agreed to help University employees and, in some cases, to discount their fees.

"We recognize that housing is expensive in this region, and we are delighted to have this opportunity to assist lower- and middle-income members of our faculty and staff to become home owners," said Lianne Sullivan-Crowley, vice president for human resources. "We appreciate PNC's efforts to partner with us in making this program available."

Faculty and staff must first complete a free homebuyer education course in order to qualify for the mortgage program. The course, coordinated through the Office of Human Resources, will be held on campus.

Buyers' gross family income must be less than 80 percent of the median income for the county in which the property is located -- in Mercer County, for example, that figure is $64,600. PNC has information on median incomes for other New Jersey counties. The program currently is available to purchase a home only in New Jersey, although a similar program for homes in Pennsylvania soon may be offered.

The property must be a one- or two-family dwelling, townhouse or condominium, and must be used as the primary residence of the buyer. Buyers cannot own any other real estate at the time of settlement.

The program will provide buyers with up to 100 percent financing for a 30-year fixed rate loan at an interest rate that is 1 percent below the market rate. Buyers are not required to provide a down payment or to pay points (an up-front fee paid to obtain a lower interest rate). Private mortgage insurance (PMI) -- normally required for low down payments -- also is not required. Qualified buyers will receive a $1,000 grant toward closing costs, further reducing the out-of-pocket outlay required to purchase a home.

Applicants will deal directly with PNC and follow the bank's application process for the program. All underwriting and credit decisions will be the sole responsibility of PNC.

Representatives from PNC Bank will be available to answer questions about the mortgage program at the Benefits Fair being sponsored by the Office of Human Resources from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, in the Frist Campus Center Multipurpose Room.

Faculty and staff also may obtain more information online or by contacting Pamela Johnson in the Office of Human Resources at (609) 258-2430.

In addition to launching the new mortgage program, Princeton has instituted several other changes that equalize the benefits plans for faculty and staff members. The University implemented the changes on Sept. 1, 2005, following an extensive review of the different schedules of benefits for exempt (monthly paid) and non-exempt (bi-weekly paid) employees.