NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (2/24/09)--Officials in New Bedford, Mass., are offering a mortgage program intended to help home buyers purchase foreclosed properties in the city with assistance from state and local entities and private bank and credit union assistance. Several credit unions are involved. The "Buy New Bedford" mortgage product offers 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages with below-market interest rates, lower down payment requirements, and the possibility of cost savings by skipping private mortgage insurance (SouthCoastToday.com Feb. 21). New Bedford has hundreds of properties that have been foreclosed. Among the credit unions and banks participating in the program are two Fall River-based credit unions: Fall River Municipal Employees CU, with assets of $246.3 million, and St. Anne's of Fall River, which as $746.4 million in assets. Applicants for the loans must meet income limit guidelines set by MassHousing, a part of the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency, a quasi-public state entity. Maximum income limits are $78,200 for families with one to two people, and $89,999 for families of three or more. They also must meet credit score guidelines. Some of the down payments are as low as 1% to 3%, and interest rates are one-fourth to one-half percentage point below market rates. The program provides education and foreclosure prevention counseling and other programs to support affordable home ownership.