Hometown Auto Retailers Inc. has entered a customized, non-recourse financing agreement with Universal Underwriters Acceptance Corp. (UUAC) to provide all Hometown Auto dealerships with non-prime financing assistance.

As part of the agreement, UUAC will offer extensive non-prime financing programs to help Hometown dealers sell vehicles to consumers with poor credit ratings.

Under terms of the agreement, Hometown dealers will be able to make credit decisions based on a customer's car payment-to-income ratio and whether a customer can establish minimal time on the job, residence and several other stipulations set out in UUAC's "Dealer Guide."

In practical terms, this means that in making the credit decision on deals they intend to ask UUAC to accept, Hometown dealerships will not look at a person's debt-to-income ratio, as is usually the case in evaluating auto credit.

Because of the UUAC-established criteria on which the dealer makes its credit decision, and because of the fact that those criteria embrace many customers who would otherwise almost certainly be denied auto credit, Hometown dealerships can now offer their non-prime customers higher-quality vehicles they might otherwise have not been able to finance, according to Corey Shaker, president and CEO for Hometown.

"In the past, Hometown has had to turn away many potential customers because we were not equippped to handle certain demands of sub-prime financing," Shaker said. "With UUAC's advanced financing program, we will be able to assist thousands of new customers annually to purchase quality vehicles, with good profits for Hometown. In addition, the loans are non-recourse to Hometown. This means we will not be responsible for any loss resulting if a customer fails to make payments."

Hometown dealers will provide UUAC-qualified customers with a standard six-month/6,000 mile warranty under the agreement.

UUAC will also under the agreement provide Hometown dealerships with leads generated from CreditLand.com, a Website owned and operated by Creditland Lending Inc., a subsidiary of Creditland Inc. UUAC estimates that more than 7,000 leads a month are generated for the Northeast region alone through CreditLand.com.

The CreditLand.com site allows customers to search, apply and be prequalified for an auto loan. Once prequalified, those consumers electing to do so are put in touch with the cooperating UUAC dealership (all Hometown dealerships are in the program) closest to the customer, and the dealership then selects a vehicle that matches the pre-qualification data and delivers it to the customer.

In virtually all such cases, UUAC will accept the contract if it is asked by the dealer to do so.

"Since Hometown Auto Retailers is one of the 100 largest auto dealership networks in the country, UUAC is happy to extend customized sub-prime loan services to Hometown's dealerships," said Michael Tuno, finance and insurance divisional administrator for Universal Underwriters Group. "By working together, we can help its dealerships sell more cars, and help thousands of people rehabilitate their credit by offering them the opportunity to purchase quality automobiles from a quality automotive group."