MassHousing doled out more than $1 billion in assistance last year

MassHousing, the state’s affordable housing bank, provided more than $1 billion in home loans in 2012 to local borrowers—a record amount and another sign of the recovering housing market, officials said Thursday.

Last year, 4,710 Massachusetts residents with low or moderate incomes received mortgage help that allowed them to buy or refinance properties through the agency, according to Thomas R. Gleason, MassHousing’s executive director. The nearly $1.1 billion total is 52 percent higher than the agency’s previous record for home mortgage lending set in 2009, the state said.

A key to the popularity of the program is a year-old product that allows homeowners with down payments as small as 3 percent to get a loan without paying mortgage insurance, officials said. Traditionally, borrowers with down payments of less than 20 percent are required to pay mortgage insurance that can costs hundreds of dollars a month.

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“We believe there is real strength in the Massachusetts housing market and this type of loan production shows there is significant demand for mortgage financing by consumers who have been waiting for the market to improve and who may have felt hamstrung by overly restrictive lending practices by conventional lenders,” Gleason said. “The state’s economy continues to grow stronger and that, matched with low interest rates, is giving prospective homeowners stronger buying power.”

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