The Texas Association of Realtors on Tuesday announced a partnership with Fannie Mae and the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs that aims to help more Texans become first-time homeowners.

The three organizations are embarking on a new educational program, United Texas: Housing Initiatives That Work, which includes a major effort beginning in 2005 to train the 70,000 Realtors in Texas on how to help first-time home buyers obtain low-cost mortgage financing. A new Web portal at www.texasrealtors.com links Texas Realtors to information about the Texas Cares downpayment-assistance program, low-interest financing programs, such as TDHCA’s Texas First-Time Homebuyer Program, and Fannie Mae mortgage products.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 64.5 percent of Texas households owned their homes in 2003, compared to 68.3 percent nationally. The program aims to boost the state’s lagging home-ownership rate.

“Our 2003 National Homeownership Survey found that despite this country’s impressive home-ownership statistics, many households still lack information and confidence about the home-buying process. Gaps in affordability and credit continue,” said Maria Brewster, senior business manager for Fannie Mae. “Many Texans are relatively unaware of the many mortgage financing options available for first-time home buyers, home buyers with past credit difficulties and those with non-traditional credit.”

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs is Texas’ lead agency responsible for affordable housing, community and energy assistance programs, and colonia activities. The department annually administers funds in excess of $400 million, the majority of which is derived from mortgage revenue bond financing and refinancing, federal grants, and federal tax credits.

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