By Dr. Daniel B. Prescott, Jr.
Various Federal agencies and the National Association of Realtors have dubbed June as National Homeowner Month. It’s a time to reflect upon how the impact owning a home can build family wealth, stable communities and contribute to our overall economic health. Every year the holiday month is celebrated, it centers on a specific theme. In 2017, National Homeownership Month is known as “Find Your Place in a New Era of Homeownership.”
As you read this, you may not consider yourself home ownership material. But I’m here to tell you that striving to reach the goal of a home of your own is possible if you’re willing to put in the work and believe in yourself. It goes without saying that home ownership comes with many benefits, the least of which is the satisfaction in knowing that you have a place to call your own. But I’d like to add to that sentiment by listing out a few of the other benefits to homeownership.
Owning a home of your own means upward mobility for you and your family. You are no longer renting, but building equity in a property under your name. As the years go by and your payments are made, you are accruing the value of your home and property. Just like any other investment, the value can go up or the value can go down but in most cases of home and property ownership, the value only increases.
You see, paying your mortgage each month reduces the principal amount of your loan. Or, as I like to say, it’s very similar to a “forced” savings plan. Every month you are paying and every month you are also earning—more and more valuable equity in your own home.
If you’re in a lower-income bracket, have had bad credit or don’t necessarily have money saved for a down payment, you need to know that there are still ways to accomplish the goal of homeownership. There is plenty of information to find on the Internet, but here are a few specifics I’d like to share with you:
Several mortgage programs are specifically designed for those with low or moderate income. The benefits of the programs come in the form of below-market interest rates/payment plans, discounted mortgage interest, low down payment options and even assistance through grant programs. You just have to look in the right places and ask the right questions. For instance, many lenders can point you to government-backed programs unrestricted by your income level.
A good place to start your search is a visit to a local community bank, credit union or a nonprofit such as the one I represent–Transformance. Sit down with a representative, take notes and educate yourself in the process. There’s nothing wrong with beginning an ambitious plan of your own by announcing, “I’d like to own a home and I need an education in how to do it based on my current financial situation.” Guess what? You may come away from that meeting pleasantly surprised and armed with a plan to one day soon own a home of your own.
Did you know that our nonprofit Transformance is an HUD-approved Housing Counselor? We have qualified staff members who can help make your home ownership dreams a reality. We can set you on the path to buying a house. We’ll set up a budgeting and saving plan based on your current income level and check in with you regularly to see if you’re meeting your goals.
When you’re ready to buy, we’ll make sure you have a thorough understanding of lenders, insurers, realtors, inspectors, appraisers, title companies, and more. Think of us as your personal guide, because you don’t have to go it alone.
If you’re ready to get started, but you don’t know quite where to begin, check out our seminar, the Home Buyer Pre-Purchase Class. You can register online on our website or by calling and classes are available in Spanish. We will host three of these Home Buyer Pre-Purchases Classes next month in July. They will occur on Saturday, July 8, Saturday, July 22 and Saturday, July 19. If you can, make plans to attend one of these seminar sessions. It could change the trajectory of your financial future for you and your whole family. And next June, you can celebrate right alongside all the other homeowners.
Transformance is always available to answer your questions and assist you via our website, www.transformanceusa.org or by calling 1-800-249-2227.
Dr. Daniel B. Prescott, Jr. is the CEO of Dallas-based Transformance Inc., a fully integrated financial services capability nonprofit. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.