By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
The Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce hosted a press conference Thursday morning to unveil big news for current and future home owners in the Sand Springs community. For the first time in town history, large ares of Sand Springs are eligible for United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development loans.
"An announcement of this kind has been a long time coming," said Kenny Tate, a realtor involved in the effort to get the USDA to re-examine the Sand Springs area.
When parameters for eligibility were first laid out, the USDA utilized now-dated technology that resulted in the bulk of the Sand Springs area being considered urban.
Buyers and builders in Sand Springs were unable to capitalize on the same financing opportunities that were helping neighboring communities to flourish.
When a window of opportunity opened last year, the Chamber of Commerce made it their top economic development goal. Since then, Tate has worked together with Alan Ringle of Ringle Development, City Councilman Phil Nollan, and numerous local business men and women, as well as members of State and local government to get the Sand Springs area reclassified.
Thursday morning Tommy Earls, USDA OK Acting Program Director of Single Family Housing, officially announced that everywhere outside of City limits, but inside of the City fence-line is now eligible for zero-down rural finance loans, in both Tulsa and Osage counties. "This change probably took effect faster than any we've seen so far," said Earls.
The Rural Development program offers two basic programs. Families making up to $49,000 may be eligible for the Direct Finance program which will qualify them for 100% mortgage financing with a $220,528 loan limit at a 3.25% interest rate. They can also qualify for zero down-payment and closing costs. The Guaranteed Loan program is available for families of higher incomes with 100% mortgage financing with no loan limits at a 3.625% interest rate. Guaranteed Loan recipients can even use that money toward an in-ground pool.
"This is your firefighter married to a teacher. This is everyone you know. This is a big deal," said Tate. Some neighboring communities have even had eligibility instated within city limits. "It's a long shot, but we're looking to try. We're thrilled with what we have, but we'll continue to fight for more. This is really a big deal."
"The area affected includes more than 100 square miles," said Ringle. Some existing areas that are now eligible include Nottingham Forest, Wekiwa Hills, and Whispering Hills.
Those involved in the effort believe this will be a game-changer for Sand Springs by encouraging more families to relocate to and build in the area, thus growing the local economy.