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PHOENIX - Mike Mortensen and his girlfriend Jennifer say when they laid eyes on this central Phoenix home, it was love at first sight.

“When we first saw it we though what a great old house, it's in great shape, it's got great fix-up appeal and things we like to do and Jenn literally started decorating it the day we saw it,” Mike said.

The home was a Fannie Mae foreclosure, and Mike planned on buying it with the help of a $15,000 interest free loan through the city's Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

It’s a federally funded program aimed at helping home buyers with down-payment and closing costs.

But Mike and his realtor say dealing with the program and bailout recipient Fannie Mae has been nearly impossible.
“It is the furthest thing from consumer friendly,” Mike said.

Apparently, minor repairs like a broken toilet seat, a shower head, frayed carpet and missing window screens have kept NSP administrators from approving the deal.

“The only thing left to be done is the NSP's approval for the $15,000 down payment,” realtor Roberta Candelaria said. “And they're estimating that process to be 45 days starting today,”

But another 45 days will push Mike and Jennifer past another program deadline, the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit.

To qualify, you had to have submitted a contract on a home by April 30, and you must also close on that home June 30.

“We, number one, were hoping that maybe a little bit of exposure to this situation might actually light a fire under the people involved and maybe be able to get us this $8,000 tax credit that is so vitally important to us,” Mike said.

3 On Your Side has learned that while the city of Phoenix has received $60 million in program funding, it’s only helped 83 families get into a home.

However, city spokesperson Michael Hammett says the program is picking up steam.

“It did take a while for the program up and running, really, again, the federal government wants to make sure that the money is all used within their guidelines,” Hammett explained.

Hammett says the program is carefully scrutinized, and that although repairs on things like windows and paint may seem cosmetic, they’re actually required before any federal funding is approved.

But, after 3 On Your Side got involved, the pace did pick up, and it looks like Mike and Jennifer will get things done on time now.

“You guys have made more progress for us than anybody than anybody we've been able to make in four months of diligence,” Mike said. “This has been incredible.”

They now have a closing date set for June 11, well before the tax credit deadline, and the couple is now looking forward to moving into their new home soon.

“So all of a sudden it's like the whole world has changed for us, everything is going the way we'd hoped it would all along and thank you so much for all of your help,” Mike said.

Log on to Neighborhood Stabilization Program’s website for more information on home ownership assistance programs.