Bank, WHEDA helping home buyers
By Mark Sherry
Mark Sherry photo
Community Bank and Trust continues to serve customers from Howards Grove and the north side of Sheboygan from this location at 4210 STH 42.

Community Bank & Trust has long been known for using special loan programs to help its many customers in eastern Wisconsin.

Small Business Administration (SBA) loans continue to be a very popular tool used by the bank to help owners of businesses large and small. SBA loans are again a top focus at Community Bank & Trust this year, as reinforced by upcoming advertisements featuring the bank’s chief executive officer.

But another loan program has seen a surge of use in recent months at Community Bank & Trust, according to Chris Kennedy, office president of the bank’s location nearest to Howards Grove at 4210 STH 42 on Sheboygan’s northwest side.

Kennedy said Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) loans for first-time home buyers “have been going crazy” as of late.

Not a state agency

WHEDA was created in 1972 by the Wisconsin Legislature as an independent authority, not a state agency. As a lender, WHEDA has over $3 billion in assets.

WHEDA works closely with lenders, developers, local government, nonprofits, community groups and others to implement its low-cost financing programs. It provides low-cost, fixed interest rate mortgages to low-and moderate-income individuals and families to purchase their first home. It also works with developers to finance affordable rental housing, and supports economic development and agriculture through its small business guarantee programs.

WHEDA programs fundamentally do not rely on tax dollars. Instead, proceeds from the sale of revenue bonds allow it to fund financing programs that help stimulate affordable housing and economic development throughout the state.

Kennedy said the use of WHEDA by Community Bank & Trust has been primarily for first-time home buyers, although WHEDA loans are available to more than just first-time buyers. There are income guidelines and WHEDA programs are not for everyone, but Kennedy said most first-time home owners fit into the income and other guidelines.

Attractive features

Prospective home owners are attracted by WHEDA features such as low, 30-year fixed interest rates; low monthly mortgage payments; 3 percent down payments along with down payment and closing cost assistance; job loss mortgage payment protection; quick loan approval; a mortgage tax credit; free online mortgage payments; and local loan servicing and customer service—from a bank such as Community Bank & Trust.

Kennedy said interest rates for WHEDA loans—although slightly higher than what might be available via other avenues—are the same for everyone. Underwriting on WHEDA loans is done by the bank, and yet another attractive feature of WHEDA home loans is the fact there is no private mortgage insurance requirement which subsequently lowers monthly payments.

While Kennedy said the mortgage refinancing boom has slowed considerably as interest rates have crept up a little, home buying activity via programs such as WHEDA continue to make him optimistic that the American dream of owning a home is still alive and well. He said people can get a nice home for what they are often paying in monthly rent. “It’s been a great product,” he said of WHEDA. “We usually lead with that.”

Similarly, if a business owner or prospective business owner comes into any Community Bank & Trust office, one of the first things they will hear about is SBA. The bank continues to be the second leading SBA lender in Wisconsin, helping state businesses of all sizes start up or expand.

SBA still on upswing

Kennedy said SBA loans via Community Bank & Trust only continue to be on the upswing. Last year was a good year for SBA loans, and this year is exceeding that pace.

SBA’s products are as varied as the business people using them—from startup “mom and pop” businesses to large corporations looking to finance some expansion. Because Community Bank & Trust is a preferred lender of the SBA, it can underwrite its own SBA loans and take into account the relationship it has with the customer sitting on the other side of the table.

But Community Bank & Trust does much more than loan money for homes or businesses. It is a full-service bank providing the full range of banking products and services from its 11 offices located as far south as the Milwaukee suburb of Greenfield and as far north as Appleton. It has all areas of Sheboygan covered as well as Plymouth, Elkhart Lake and Chilton.

The bank is always looking to spread the word about what it has to offer, so it is currently conducting its “Refer a Friend” program. Visit branch locations or the Web site www.communitybankandtrust.comfor more details.

“We feel like our best resource is our customer service,” Kennedy said. “If someone from here helps us spread the word, we want to do something for them.”

He added, “We pride ourselves on be-ing a small bank that has everything you can get at a bigger bank, but you get that small, local customer service.”

“It’s all about knowing your customer,” Kennedy said. “We’ve been through the good and the bad together.” To take advantage of “a better way to

bank,” stop in any of the Community Bank & Trust locations or check out www.communitybankandtrust.com.