WE’RE HEARING it took a biblical forty years between housing developments at the San Felipe pueblo in New Mexico. But after dedicating 28 homes last year (the first on the reservation since 1972) the pueblo has made considerably better time on its next development. It will be done within the month.
The 12 single-family homes going up for the Indian tribe north of Albuquerque represent part two of Phase 1 of an ambitious plan to develop 150 homes and a commercial area. A recent site visit showed most of the homes, in sight of Interstate 25, are done or nearly done.
Financing for the development has come to at least $6 million, and will require more. Bank of America made two $2.8 million HUD Title VI loans on the units. (These loans, made under a 95% guarantee from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, are used for construction and infrastructure on housing developments.) Other sources include HUD’s Rural Innovation program, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Community Development Block Grant program, and the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Agency, which is extending downpayment assistance.
Homeowners are getting mortgages on the houses through the HUD section 184 program, which functions as “conventional” lending and guarantees 100% of a lender’s outlays. The reservation is also benefiting from some 70 jobs being created, many filled by reservation residents.
Considering that mortgages were negligible on reservation land twenty years ago when we first started covering this economic rights issue, there’s a lot more evidence of it now. We also made a site visit to Nambe, a small (650 people) pueblo north and west of Santa Fe, and saw the start of a ten-year housing development that is planned to include 37 HUD 184 mortgages. Four homes have been put up and sold, and 61 units in all are planned including multifamily units.
We hear that 10 housing units are going up at San Idlefonso pueblo, north of Santa Fe, and that these are being supported by a HUD Title VI loan. At the Jicarilla Apache reservation adjacent to Colorado, ten or 12 units are set, also using Title VI. And at Zuni pueblo in the west of New Mexico, four or five “sweat equity” homes are going up using the Rural Housing Service section 502 direct mortgage.
It isn’t easy to put up housing in the desert. It is even harder to do on Indian reservations, for reasons ranging from land status to poverty to racism. In the deserts of the Southwest, people eagerly await the monsoon season, which brings needed rain every summer to make the desert bloom. It seems to us as if the summer rains have finally been able to make houses bloom as well.
SHOUT OUT: We have been giving props to lenders making more than ten net new hires this year, hoping to encourage private hiring that will speed up this perpetually slow recovery. Alas, with rates rising and refinancings dropping as a result, the trend may go the other way for mortgage firms after a couple of rebound years. But in the meantime let’s give a shout out to Churchill Mortgage of Brentwood, Tenn., which has made another 11 new hires at branches in Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Since the beginning of 2013, Churchill Mortgage has added more than 90 new employees to branches across the country, exceeding the total number of employees recruited in all of 2012. It cited encouraging existing home sales reports as reasons to bring on the new people.
BOTTOM HALF: Garth Graham has written another entertaining blog combining colorful real life with useful lessons for mortgage originators. You’ll remember Garth fielded quite a few cracks about his column earlier this year comparing mortgage companies to plumbers’ butts. Well, he’s working the bottom half of the field again. This time, it is business life lessons on how loan officers can avoid making the embarrassing “butt fumble” perpetrated by Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets. We actually dread the start of football season here because Garth is a passionate fan of the Washington Redskins. Not only do we object to the racist nickname of the team, but Garth has been known to make disparaging remarks about any of his team’s rivals (the words “Dallas Cowboys” come to mind here). Now, if the Jets manage to win the Super Bowl this year, we’ll be able to identify the biggest horse’s butt in blogdom!
MOST EMAILED: The content most emailed content this week was Andy Peters’ account this week of two more banks facing mortgage scrutiny. The two are First Horizon and SunTrust. Our most read content, interestingly, comes from 2011! No, you guys haven’t really been hitting our archives. But probably, spammers have, sending the number counters whirling higher on an old story about distressed real estate.