Florida builders pool funds for home loans

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Florida's home builders are going into the finance business to make sure there is a reliable supply of money for home mortgages.

They plan to pool their savings and investment and use it to fuel the industry's growth. When the plan is completed, they hope to be able to finance home sales.

''We're getting ready to file a charter for a credit union this month,'' says Paul Thompson, director of the Florida Homebuilders Association. ''That will be our foot in the door to the finance business. From there, we want to start a life insurance company to raise more money, and the final step will be the creation of a mortgage banking firm.''

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The association, with 12,700 members who employ 300,000 people, is taking these steps for the preservation of the home-building industry, he says.

''We've found that many commercial banks and savings and loan associations do not want to make long-term loans at a fixed interest rate,'' Thompson says. ''We're posturing for a change we see coming in the marketplace where S&Ls do not want to make home loans at all.

''We need to combat (this shift) so that we don't wake up one day and find no one committed to making home loans,'' he says.

Florida's housing market has suffered with the rest of the nation because of high interest rates and tight money. The number of home starts in the state dropped by 25 to 30 percent in 1981. Compared with an average of 166,000 homes the industry built during the last few years in Florida, about 100,000 homes were started in 1981.

Home building is $7 billion-a-year business in Florida and is one of the state's leading industries.

''It's been a real sluggish year because of the high interest rates,'' Thompson says. ''We've got to get some relief.''

Starting its own finance company will not solve the housing industry's problems in the short run, he says. He anticipates it will take six months to get the credit union started, and that will have no effect on home loans.

''If we get the backing of a large brokerage house that can see the potential of what we are doing, then maybe we can speed up the process,'' he says. ''But what we're doing is getting ready for the long haul to try to stop the cyclical nature of the industry.''

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