A decade after the housing market collapsed, a new survey reveals that many people are unaware of resources and counseling that can improve their prospects of owning their own home. Housing counseling offered by NeighborWorks Rochester helps close to 150 residents annually achieve their goal of buying a home, and could do so for many others who have the same dream.
Joanne Panarisi-Bottone, Executive Director of NeighborWorks Rochester states, “Our goal is to ensure that first-time homebuyers make informed decisions based on their personal finances, goals and dreams. Our coach approach supports sustainable homeownership for both the individuals and the community by working with individuals to create a clear path, remove obstacles, and avoid the many pitfalls that a first-time buyer may encounter, such as predatory lending.” Neighborworks Rochester is an affiliate of NeighborWorks Community Partners, a member of the NeighborWorks America national network.
The sixth annual NeighborWorks America at Home survey found that people with the most debt –millennials and women—are less likely to be homeowners, and large numbers would like to be, but don’t know where to turn for help in achieving their dream.
Among the findings:
- Women: 29 percent of women have student loan debt, compared to 23 percent of men. Fifty percent of women worry about this type of debt all or most of the time.
- People of color: 48 percent of people of color are burdened with student loan debt, compared to 22 percent of white women and 15 percent of white men.
- Millennials: 56 percent of millennials worry about student loan debt some or most of the time.
- Overall awareness of help available: 46 percent of all adults are unfamiliar with nonprofits that offer debt counseling for free or at a low cost.
“It’s important for people to have the proper tools and resources so they are informed consumers from the moment they consider owning a home,” says Karen Hoskins, acting vice president of homeownership programs and lending at NeighborWorks America. “A housing counselor can guide them through what often seems a daunting, confusing process. Consumers also will benefit by thinking about housing counselors as helpful sources of information about services such as down-payment assistance.”
For more information about NeighborWorks Rochester’s homebuyer resources, visit our Homeownership Page. For more information about the America at Home survey, click on this link.
With the holidays over, some people are gearing up to make their next purchase – a home. The homebuying season is in full swing. Below are four tips you can share to help consumers make the best homeownership choice in 2017: strengthen their credit, shop wisely for a mortgage, choose the right house and negotiate the best price.
- Strengthen your credit score before looking for a mortgage. The majority of people don’t know their credit score until they begin to look for a home or a mortgage. Since finding the right house takes an average of one to three months, it could pay off to use the time to strengthen your credit score, especially if it means getting a lower mortgage rate. The benefit varies from lender to lender, but a strong credit score can cut as much as half a percent from your rate. A NeighborWorks® Rochester Housing Advisor can provide guidance on what to do to boost your credit score while shopping for a home.
- Shop around for the best mortgage. Not every lender offers the same mortgage rate, so shopping around is essential. Yet, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, nearly half of people who apply for a mortgage don’t shop around. The price of failing to do so can be quite significant after several years. As important as it is to obtain the best mortgage rate, it’s also crucial to be aware of fees charged by mortgage lenders. These fees go by various names—another reason to work closely with a NeighborWorks® Rochester Housing Advisor throughout the process.
- Choose your house carefully. With a mortgage-approval letter in hand, it’s time to find your home. A market with low housing supply requires a buyer to look for a “diamond in the rough”—a not-so-perfect house that could be rehabbed to make it suitable. That doesn’t you should settle for a house that doesn’t meet your basic needs. Keep your list of must-haves front and center, but make sure they are not really “nice-to-haves.”
- Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. If real estate is location, location, location, then homebuying is negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Unless you’re buying in the most heated and competitive markets, there is always room for negotiation. Here’s where selecting the right real estate agent pays off. Whether it’s the price of the house—probably the most important item to negotiate—the portion of closing costs to be paid or whether a warranty for major appliances is included, presenting the seller with a list of requests is important. Remember, the seller wants to sell and you want to buy. Home purchases that are mutually beneficial are made in the middle.
The path to your first home can be stressful and confusing. Following these tips and working with the team at NeighborWorks® Rochester will help you successfully find your “home sweet home.” Get started, and learn even more great tips, by attending one of our free monthly Homebuyer Orientations. Sign up on our website.