HELP Is Here For Home Repair

As spring blooms around us, so does the arrival of home improvement season. Projects that have been contemplated and discussed all winter long are now ready to be addressed. Most Cuyahoga County residents don’t know about an extra tool that they may have in their tool belt. That tool is called the Housing Enhancement Loan Program, or HELP loan for short. All residents in communities on the west side could be eligible for this great program. I also encourage contractors and home improvement companies to learn about this program so they can share it  with their clients.

How does it work? If the funds are being used for alteration, repair, maintenance or improvements, the homeowner applies at one of the participating banks: Key Bank, Huntington National Bank or PNC Bank. Most bankers are familiar with this program and can assist the applicant with the short amount of paperwork required to apply for the program. All of the banks above offer a home secured version of this program. Additionally, Key Bank offers an unsecured home improvement loan with rate deduction as well. 

If the application is approved based on the financial institutions normal lending criteria, the resident can get a home improvement loan at 3 percentage points below the normal bank rate. If the loan is for up to $12,500, the term is for 5 years. If the loan is $12,500 or above, the term is 10 years. The decrease is a fixed rate decrease. For example, a loan that the financial institution approves at 5% would get a 3% reduction to qualify for a fixed 2% rate. 

The requirements are quite simple as well. Any bank fees are capped at $175. There is no limit on the borrower’s income. The property taxes on the home must be paid current. Single family, two family and multi-family dwellings are eligible as are owner occupied and investment dwellings. Single family and two family dwellings must have a tax value of less than $250,000. There is no limit of multi-family dwellings.  

Leaders across Cuyahoga County see the benefit in this program. Sean P. Brennan, Parma City Council President says "I have been a proponent of this program for years. I have always felt that it is a no brainer if someone is planning to finance home improvements. In fact, my wife and I took advantage of the program soon after we purchased our own home. My advice is to shop the banks involved in the program and go with the one that has the lowest rate." 

Once the loan is in place your city has the responsibility by ordinance to monitor the work on your home. You are required to do the following: Contact the building department or have your contractor contact the building department within one month of your loan’s closing date to secure the proper permits and to determine if any zoning, building code or other approvals are required. You have ONE YEAR from the closing date of the loan to complete all of the work. 

For your protection, your contractor should be licensed, registered and/ or bonded by your municipality. Contact the city for a list or your contractor can register with the city. The agreement with your contractor is a private one and not the responsibility of the lending institution, the county or your municipality. The city will notify the county that your work is completed. Please keep copies of any receipts and cancelled checks as they may be requested by the city or county to verify compliance. If you do not cooperate with efforts to monitor the progress of your work or any requests for documentation from city or county officials, your loan subsidy (the three point reduction of the bank’s normal interest rate) is subject to removal. It is your responsibility to insure that your city is kept up-to-date on the status of your work. The city and county reserve the right to request receipts to verify the cost of improvements.  

Due to the savings, the HELP loan can reduce the cost of the repairs or even increase the amount you are able to afford. If you are a resident or home improvement company and would like more information please reach out to me, Mark DeLaney, Branch Manager of the Parma Key Bank, at (440)345-7035.  Don’t “spring” into your projects without checking out this program first!

Mark DeLaney

Vice Chairperson of the Parma Area Chamber of Commerce and Branch Manager/AVP at the Parma Key Center

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Volume 10, Issue 5, Posted 7:30 AM, 05.03.2018