Countrywide Home Loans this week announced a new mortgage program that aims to make it easier for enlisted U.S. armed forces personnel and their families who have little or no funds for down payments and closing costs to become homeowners.

Countrywide’s U.S. Military Optimum Loan Program also allows qualifying enlisted men and women to buy homes with nontraditional income sources.

The program’s guidelines allow for:

  • a minimum cash down payment from the borrower(s) of $500 or 1 percent of sales price

  • the inclusion of different types of military pay as income sources in addition to base pay, such as flight or hazard pay, quarter’s allowances and proficiency pay

  • the use of income from a boarder for those families who rent out a room during a family member’s deployment

  • supplemental undocumented income from borrowers who have taken second jobs, but where the pay is not easily verified

  • cosigning by a family member or close friend for the primary borrower who is establishing home ownership during deployment

“Our military personnel risk their lives on a daily basis keeping our country safe,” said Dottie Sheppick, Countrywide’s executive vice president and manager of Strategic Products. “It is Countrywide’s responsibility, as well as that of all mortgage lenders, to do its part to see that their families are safe, and that there are home loans readily available for them that are attainable and fit their personal financial circumstances.”

Per the Service Members Civil Relief Act of 2003, Countrywide also offers a series of options to help enlisted military personnel and families who have Countrywide mortgages and are under financial duress.  For those who meet certain qualifications, Countrywide said it would:

  • reduce to 6 percent existing Countrywide loans with rates above 6 percent held by enlisted service persons during their active duty period

  • forebear payments or recast loans for families of military personnel who lose their lives while on active duty

  • provide post closing counseling for military personnel who cannot make mortgage payments on time and call the toll-free line at 800 262-4218.

Countrywide’s U.S. Military Optimum Loan Program will not replace the Veteran’s Administration guaranteed loan program. The company will continue to originate VA mortgage loans that require a zero down payment.

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