More qualified buyers sought for Wharf Street homes in Bluffton

cconley@islandpacket.comMay 1, 2012 

The six homes in old town that make up Bluffton's Wharf Street Redevelopment Project are nearly completed.

SARAH WELLIVER

Bluffton officials said there is still time to apply for the affordable-housing program on Wharf Street, and they're hoping teachers, firefighters and other "well-qualified" prospects will take a fresh look at the project.

Nearly 60 people have applied, but about half have voluntarily withdrawn or been disqualified, said Marc Orlando, Bluffton's director of growth management.

Others still might not be eligible for a mortgage.

"We need well-qualified applicants who can qualify for financing from a private lending institution," he told the town's Affordable Housing Committee on Tuesday.

"We've got a couple of great applicants, but we just need some more."

The six houses in the development on Wharf and Robertson streets in old town range in size from 330 square feet with one bedroom to 1,115 square feet with three bedrooms. The $1.2 million project was funded mostly with federal grants.

But those grants came with strings attached. For instance, a single person can't make more than $39,100 to qualify, and income for a family of six can't exceed $64,800. Those caps are based on 80 percent of Beaufort County's median income.

Applicants also must pass background checks, complete a first-time homebuyer course and, most important, have incomes and credit scores to pass a screening and qualify for a mortgage.

Teachers, firefighters and those in certain other professions tend to have incomes within the allowable range. "We just don't want potential homeowners to give up, thinking it's too late in the game to apply," Orlando said.

To date, five applicants have completed the home-buyer course, and the town hopes more will take the classes in May.

Fred Hamilton, chairman of the Affordable Housing Committee, said he wished the houses were already occupied. But he understands the town's deliberate course.

"This has been a learning process ... and we have found there were a whole lot of stipulations that require us to do things at a slow pace to make sure we are in compliance," he said.

Meanwhile, Orlando said, the town is seeking bids from appraisal firms after a previous request failed to draw interest. Getting an appraisal is needed to set asking prices for the six houses.

The town expects the buyers will start moving in sometime in July.

Related content

  1. Bluffton won't set Wharf Street home prices for weeks, 04/27/12
  2. Bluffton seeks applications for Wharf Street Redevelopment Project, 01/22/12
  3. Bluffton affordable housing project groundbreaking set for August, 07/14/11

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