For Immediate Release - November 16, 2006

Home Smart Website Launched to Assist Home Buyers and Owners

Home Smart Website Launched to Assist Home Buyers and Owners

Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Director Janice S. Tatarka today announced the launch of HOME Smart, a new online resource for consumers buying their first home and for homeowners seeking information on how to best maintain and safeguard their home. The HOME Smart website is located at www.mass.gov/homesmart.

"The HOME Smart website is a treasure trove of information for both home buyers and homeowners," said Tatarka. "It was created to assist consumers as they are buying a home and offers information on everything from getting pre-qualified for a mortgage, to hiring a home inspector. It is also a homeowner's go-to resource for maintaining their home, providing guidance on energy efficiency and tips about hiring registered home improvement contractors."

Purchasing and owning a home is one of the most important financial obligations individuals have in their lives. HOME Smart was developed to guide consumers down the sometimes confusing road to homeownership. The site is organized into two categories Buying a Home and Maintaining a Home, so that consumers can easily navigate the site and find the information and resources most helpful to them.

The HOME Smart resource premiered earlier this week at a Mortgage Summit, hosted by the Office of Consumer Affairs and the Division of Banks. The nearly 50 summit participants were comprised of 27 government, industry, and community groups joining together to develop a statewide foreclosure prevention strategy in Massachusetts. The Division of Banks will next form working groups to continue the work accomplished at the summit to decrease the foreclosure rate in the Commonwealth.

Commissioner of Banks, Steven L. Antonakes said, "I am pleased that we were able to introduce the HOME Smart brochure at the Mortgage Summit. The HOME Smart website will help address one of the goals of the Mortgage Summit; namely, consumer information and education."

In addition to the HOME Smart brochure, the Division of Banks also released proposed "Guidance on Nontraditional Mortgage Product Risks." The proposed guidance is intended to apply to licensed mortgage brokers and mortgage lenders and parallels recently issued federal guidance for banks and credit unions on the risks of nontraditional mortgage products, such as interest-only loans or Payment Option ARMs. In addition, the guidance states that lenders or brokers that offer nontraditional mortgage products must clearly disclose the risks that borrowers may assume. For further information, go to the Division's website at www.mass.gov/dob.

To help spread the word about this new valuable resource, HOME Smart posters and brochures will be available at public buildings, libraries, town halls and local consumer offices.

Consumers are encouraged to visit www.mass.gov/homesmart to obtain more information about owning or buying a home. Individuals may also access information about a variety of consumer issues by calling the of Consumer Affairs hotline at 1-888-283-3757.