The District of Columbia housing department and a local mortgage company were overwhelmed with telephone calls yesterday following an announcement that the city would sell the 40 remaining properties in the Bates Street NW urban renewal area at fire-sale prices and bargain mortgage-interest rates.
"The phones have been ringing all day," said John P. Murchison Jr., president of Inter-City Mortgage Corp., which is handling the financing.
Murchison said his office had received 70 to 100 calls following the announcement by city housing director Robert L. Moore that the city would offer the homes, with 30-year financing at 11 percent, well below the current 17 percent market rate, because of an agreement worked out between the city, the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) and the mortgage company.
City housing officials, who are trying to finish up the moribund project that was a major part of Mayor Marion Barry's housing program, said they had also received numerous inquiries and referred the callers to Murchison.
Although Moore announced that the homes will sell from $63,000, yesterday the mortgage company told callers that the prices would range from $63,000 to $72,000 with a 5 percent downpayment.
Callers were also told the homes were now gutted shells and would not be completed until mid- to late June.
In addition to handling the mortgages, Murchison's real estate firm has a contract with the city to sell the homes. Inter-City will receive 2 to 3 percent of the mortgage amount plus other fees for placing the mortgages. Murchison Realty will receive 2 percent of the sales price for each sale, he said.
Murchison is also the chairman of Municipal Escrow and Title Co., a settlement company. Murchison said each Bates Street buyer will be told they have the right to select a settlement company, "but we will point out to them we have a facility" to do settlements.