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DENVER-Dallas-based JPI, which Builder Magazine recently ranked as the nation’s No. 1 apartment developer in 2000, has launched a new program that allows renters to become home buyers.

The program was created by Tim McEntee’s Denver-based division and currently is available to JPI residents in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas City, MO, and Seattle.

The program will soon surface in Minneapolis, where JPI is developing its first project. McEntee is a JPI divisional president and managing partner.

The BEST program or “Build Equity Starting Today” enables JPI residents to apply a percentage of their monthly rent payments toward the purchase of a new or previously owned home. By joining the BEST Program, residents in four JPI metropolitan markets can accrue reserves of 20% of their monthly lease payments and up to 1% to 1.5% of the base purchase price of a newly constructed home or the sales price of a previously owned home. Except for a one-time $50 fee, there is no extra cost to participate in the program. So far, more than 250 JPI residents are taking advantage of the BEST Program, McEntee says.

The problem with similar programs offered by competitors is that they typically are limited to certain homebuilding companies and can’t be used for resale homes, McEntee tells GlobeSt.com. “The BEST Program is a win-win situation for our residents and for us,” McEntee says. “It’s a good way for residents who plan to purchase a home to build toward that future while enjoying the many comforts and conveniences of the JPI lifestyle. We believe this program helps provide a higher quality living experience with JPI.”

The leading reason that tenants leave a JPI luxury apartment complex is to buy homes, McEntee says. The average tenant’s salary at a JPI Denver-area projects is $80,000. Reserves can be used to cover home-closing costs, points, upgrades and other home-buying expenses for a single-family structure, townhouse or condo. Furthermore, the program makes for a smooth transition from renter to homeowner, assesses McEntee.

BEST members are pre-qualified to purchase a home and the program is involved in every aspect of the transaction through affiliations with specified Re/Max Alliance brokers in Denver, lending institutions, developers and title company professionals.

“We have had a tremendous response to the BEST Program,” says Dan Matthews, a Re/Max Alliance-DTC broker associate and president of MBA Partners, which implements the BEST Program for JPI. “We have received multiple calls from people who are making the decision to move into a JPI property to take advantage of this program.

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