Penn Home Ownership Services helps employees settle in West Philly

Penn Home Ownership Services

Steven Minicola

Penn employees looking to buy a home in West Philadelphia can get help and advice through Penn's Home Ownership Services (PHOS).

Prospective buyers can attend the free housing fair PHOS is hosting on Tuesday, May 24, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Houston Hall’s Bodek Lounge. There, they can talk with PHOS representatives and banking partners about the University’s Enhanced Forgivable Loan (EFL) program, the new Energy Efficiency Home Retrofits option and the Closing Cost Reduction Program (CCRP).

The EFL is a $7,500 loan that is forgivable over five years and can be used toward closing costs, down payment, interest rate buy-down or home improvements, including energy retrofit/eco-products. The CCRP allows for a nominal discount on total closing costs at the time of settlement.

Both programs are available to full-time employees of the University and the Health System who qualify financially and purchase a home within designated areas of West Philadelphia. Details on the geographical boundaries can be found at the PHOS website.

“Since 1998, close to 1,000 employees have taken advantage of Penn’s home ownership program,” says Marie Witt, vice president of the Business Services Division, which oversees PHOS, “and in Fiscal Year 2011 alone, over 100 employees interested in buying a home near campus have worked with our program.”

Despite the recent downturn in the national real estate market, research by scholars at the Penn Institute for Urban Research found that the typical home in University City—the area of West Philadelphia closest to campus—has appreciated in value as much as three times more than the average Philadelphia home during the past 13 years. And in the Penn Alexander School catchment area, home prices are 6 percent above their 2007 levels, while home prices in Philadelphia overall are down 16 percent from their 2007 peak.

For more information on the home-buying process and how to qualify for the Penn Home Ownership Services programs, call 215-898-7422 or visit www.upenn.edu/homeownership.

Originally published on May 5, 2011