Watts serving on veterans home purchase board

Published 12:02 am Saturday, May 19, 2012

NATCHEZ — Henry Watts has built houses for years. Now, it’s his job to help veterans secure a home for themselves.

Starting July 1, the former district 2 supervisor will begin a four-year term on the Veterans Home Purchase Board of Mississippi. The six-member board is tasked with helping veterans buy homes by offering them mortgage loans at a low interest rate. This is done in part because veterans are eligible for loans guaranteed by the federal government.

“In my opinion, (the VHPBM) is one of the best kept secrets in the State of Mississippi,” Watts said.

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“Many lenders don’t want to make Veteran’s Affairs loans, especially if the loan has a new construction involved in it because they would have to make two loans, an interim construction loan and then the long-term, permanent mortgage.”

The VHPBM is willing to do that, and Watts said the board likewise does not factor in discount points — factors that raise interest rates — that other lenders use.

The loans, capped at $225,000, are for single-family homes for both existing housing and new construction.

Watts, who served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1970, said he had to go through a Mississippi Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee confirmation hearing before he could be placed on the board.

“They ask a lot of personal information,” he said. “It was a little bit intimidating.”

Watts serves on the board of directors for the VHPBM and on the loan committee. The board has budgeted $25 million for loans this year, but has $35 million it can access to make loans if needed.

Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Watts to the position.

Watts said he has worked with the governor for several years through the state home builder’s association and his former role as a county supervisor.