Loan Arrangers

Home purchase assistance aims to create a sense of community

Moravian has created a home purchase support plan for faculty and staff members of the College and Seminary, offering as much as $2,000 to potential buyers whose homes would be located within walking distance of campus.

The plan also contains a package of assistance that may include reduced interest rates, smaller down payments, and assistance with relocation costs. All these will be available to faculty and staff whether or not they move to the designated area around campus.

The goal is to encourage cooperation between the College and the surrounding community and to build a sense of neighborhood around the campus, said Dennis Domchek, vice president for administration. The proximity of their professors also should encourage faculty/student interaction after the class day ends.

A further benefit, as Peter von Allmen, chair of the Department of Economics and Business, said in a planning session: “It will be a real plus for faculty recruiting and retention.”

The agreement covers homes in a 3.5-square-mile area bounded on the east by Linden Street, on the west by Eighth Avenue, on the north by Washington Street and on the south by the Lehigh River.

Modeled on a program already in place at Lehigh University, the plan resulted from a suggestion by Heikki Lempa, assistant professor of history, who commutes to campus and lives nearby during the week, then returns to his family on weekends. (About a third of the faculty commutes to the Moravian campus from distances of 30 miles or more, often because a working spouse makes it necessary to have split living arrangements.) Heikki was looking for a way to afford a residence in Bethlehem that would allow him to walk to work. He asked if Moravian could create something similar to Lehigh’s plan. Tom Demshock of Fishburn Realty in Bethlehem, who attended Moravian for three semesters back in the ‘70s and has handled many real-estate transactions for the College, was instrumental in designing Lehigh’s home-assistance program and offered to adapt it for Moravian.

Some of its features:

  • Moravian faculty and staff may apply for 2 percent of the mortgage on a home in the campus area or $2,000, whichever is less, to cover (for example) closing costs. This is not a loan but a benefit and does not need to be repaid.
  • Nazareth National Bank and First Horizon Home Loans have agreed to work with real-estate agents to identify qualifying properties, arrange favorable financing, and accept lower down payments for Moravian faculty and staff.
    “We hope to add another lender,” Demshock says.
  • Nazareth National will offer 100 percent financing on mortgages up to $90,000 (there is an income cap of $51,000 for eligibility) or 97 percent financing on mortgages of any amount (no income cap).
  • Lehigh Valley Relocation Consultants, a moving services company, will offer discount packages on interstate moves.
  • Real-estate attorney Constantine Vasiliadis will handle title searches at cost (which is set by the Commonwealth) and waive his own fee. Demshock estimates that this will save home buyers between $500 and $1,500.

For the record, Demshock owns 25 percent of the stock in Lehigh Valley Relocation Consultants, and Vasiliadis is his personal attorney.

However, the plan allows buyers to work with agents, lenders, brokers, and attorneys of their choice, using the rates and discounts of the Moravian plan to leverage better deals.

Moravian’s home support policy is intended to underwrite single-family private residences, not rental properties. The plan contains penalties for buyers who move outside the defined area within five years or who convert their homes to rental units.

The College plans to set aside $10,000 a year for the home support program. The first year’s funding is already in place.

Questions may be addressed to the Office of Human Resources, Ext. 1527, which will screen applications and administer the plan. Additional information:

October 29, 2002

Loan Arrangers
College announces new home purchase support plan for faculty and staff.

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