BANGOR, Maine — The director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program for the state of Maine presented this year’s Homeownership Partner of the Year award to representatives of Maine-based Residential Mortgage Services Inc. on Wednesday.
Virginia Manuel, director of USDA Rural Development in Maine, was joined for the brief ceremony by a handful of individuals from the program’s Bangor office and staff members from the offices of Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.
Manuel said the firm’s low delinquency rate, far below the state average, “really attests to [their] ability” as a lender with the Rural Development guaranteed loan program.
Also Wednesday, the USDA Rural Development program showcased a new energy-efficient home on Indian Island.
The home was the first constructed in a new affordable housing subdivision and the first made possible through “One Stop Mortgage” documents, which allow USDA Rural Development and the Penobscot Nation to partner to help tribal families become homeowners.
The USDA Rural Development program seeks to provide affordable housing for citizens who wish to live in a rural area but are unable to locate appropriate funding. Since the program’s inception in 1949, the USDA has provided more than $54 billion to help individuals and families purchase their own homes.
Darrell Briggs, vice president of operations at Residential Mortgage Services, said its focus has always remained on the first-time homebuyer and “the loans banks don’t want to do,” securing a solid market share for the company.
Between Oct. 1, 2009, and April 30, 2010, Residential Mortgage Services provided 295 loans for families in rural Maine totaling more than $41 million. Of those loans, only 7.9 percent have been labeled as delinquent, more than 25 percent lower than the state average of 10.6 percent.
The South Portland company operates eight locations in the state, including Bangor, and several more throughout New England, in addition to holding a license to operate in Florida. Mike Ianno, vice president in charge of sales at Residential Mortgage Services, attributes the firm’s success to its close connection with Maine.
Ianno said that because they have no local connection to their customers, “the bigger banks don’t care as much.”