Eagle County may write some ‘smart loans’ | VailDaily.com

Eagle County may write some ‘smart loans’

EAGLE, Colorado – If the lawyers agree, Eagle County may write a few “energy smart” loans this year. But the pool of applicants is going to be pretty small – homeowners who don’t have mortgages held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Those two federally chartered agencies, the two biggest buyers of mortgage loans originated by other lenders, have stated they won’t buy mortgages encumbered by smart-type loans. That’s put Eagle County’s program in limbo before it’s begun.

Eager to start, the commissioners Monday told one loan applicant they have a relatively small pool of money – about $250,000 – with which they could make a few loans to qualifying homeowners who have a very specific letter from their mortgage lenders regarding the loan.

Scott Wright said he could get such a letter. He came to Monday’s work session to listen, and to tell the commissioners that if he couldn’t get a smart loan for energy-efficient upgrades, he’d probably just go to his bank.

“We have an application in,” Wright said. “We’re waiting, we have contractors waiting.

“It’s a short (building) season,” Wright added. “With a remodel it makes sense to do (efficiency improvements) now.”

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The commissioners seemed willing to give cases like Wright’s a try, just to get the program started.

Starting with applicants who don’t have Fannie-held loans was part of a broader business plan the commissioners talked about Monday.

That plan, still being finalized, will detail how to Eagle, Pitkin and Gunnison counties should use a $4.9 million federal grant to make homes and businesses more energy efficient.

The plans for that grant include the smart loans, of course, but also include setting up offices that can be local clearinghouses for information about programs, rebates and qualified contractors.

The program also includes money for workforce training, and a revolving loan fund for projects costing $3,000 or less. Those loans would be repaid through a homeowner’s utility bills.