Tag Archives: workshops

HOMEteam Success!!!

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Homeownership was a goal for Jackie and Mike Thompson while renting an apartment in Concord.  However, they were not certain about how prepared they were and were still just thinking about the possibility.  In August 2017, they participated in HOMEteam’s Financial Literacy workshop series, followed by an eight-hour First-Time Home Buyer seminar in October the same year. Over the following months, they met one-on-one with Homeownership Counselor, Richard Patterson.  Richard helped them develop a personal action plan, based on their specific needs and financial capacity, to identify and address any concerns and/or obstacles in realizing their goal of homeownership. 

 In May 2018, only seven months after taking HOMEteam’s First-Time Home Buyer seminar, Jackie and Mike purchased their first home in Boscawen.

At a recent event, they provided a great example to the crowd of the importance and value of participating in HOMEteam’s homebuyer educational programs and counseling services.

 As it turns out, we were much more ready to be able to buy a house than we thought we would be, but our lack of knowledge combined with the fear of making a bad decision had been holding us back. When we were finally ready to put all of our preparations and plans into action and look for a house, we both felt confident that we knew what we were doing now, and that the HOMEteam staff would be available to help us if we needed it.

 On May 5th of this year, we closed on our house in Boscawen, NH. Two days later when we showed up to move in, we learned firsthand why your insurance policy starts the moment you buy the house (something we learned about in class!). The night before, the area had some extreme weather and a 70ft pine tree fell overnight, missing our new house by mere feet. Because we felt so prepared to handle the ups and downs (literally) that come with owning a house, this unforeseen event on day 1 didn’t feel like a crisis – just something we had to deal with as part of being homeowners.

 

They recently celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary. Mike is currently a full-time student, studying wildlife and conservation biology while working a part-time job on campus. Jackie works full-time as the Housing Coordinator at a NH college, and plays the piano at her church.

 

 

 

A Four-Point Strategy to Revive Homeownership

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It’s not looking good for homeownership these days. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 63.7 percent of households owned their homes at the end of 2016, down from a peak of 69.2 percent in 2004. While there have been small increases in recent quarters, the homeownership trend since the financial crisis continues to trend downward. We need to reverse this pattern, and these four strategies will help.

First, we have to demystify the process. More than two-thirds of adults in an Oct. 2016 national household opinion survey from NeighborWorks America described the homebuying process as complicated. Our network’s counselors report that a common refrain from customers they help to achieve homeownership is, “I never thought I could do this.” Because the purchase process is so complex, many potential homeowners don’t even try, essentially self-selecting out of their piece of the “American Dream.”
Increasing the homeownership rate in New Hampshire will energize the local economy and create jobs from construction to retail.

Second, we have to return to rational credit standards. We return to the loose underwriting of the early 2000s. However, right now, credit standards are too tight and thus reduce the prospects for homeownership for many. A recent article by the Urban Institute noted that innovations in credit scoring practices could help up to 3 million first-time homebuyers across the country. Some of them certainly live here in New Hampshire. The lending industry must seriously pursue such modifications.

Third, we need to do a better job in reaching out to low- and moderate-income consumers. These are the first-time buyers of the future and they are unsure about the path to homeownership. Nonprofits housing organizations have had a “field of dreams” mindset: if we’re here, homebuyers will find us. That’s not working. The NeighborWorks survey mentioned above also found that less than 10 percent of consumers think of nonprofit’s like HOMEteam first when considering how to achieve homeownership. Our organization and others working to increase homeownership, especially among first-time buyers, need to behave more like businesses and seek out these types of customers. Word of mouth isn’t enough.

Fourth, we must overcome financial obstacles. Home prices are increasing in nearly all markets. Here in Southern New Hampshire, the median price for a three bedroom home is approximately $235,000.00 and the stereotypical 20 percent down payment is out of reach for most first-time buyers. However, the truth is, consumers don’t need a 20 percent down payment to purchase a home these days. In some cases, just a 3 percent down payment is required. However, not every lender offers flexible mortgages.
By working with HOMEteam and other housing nonprofits, consumers will learn about the programs that offer 3 percent down-payment mortgages. In addition, they also will be made aware of the down-payment assistance funds available in this community and others. The NeighborWorks survey showed that only one-third of consumers are aware of down- payment programs for middle-income buyers.

While there isn’t an unlimited supply of down-payment assistance, if more consumers knew to seek it and sought information from nonprofit organizations, the homeownership rate would increase. That’s good for individuals, families and New Hampshire.

Hard work brings New Hampshire family home

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When Jeremy Charron lost his construction job in the wake of the 2008 housing crisis, he and his wife Siobhan had no choice but to file for bankruptcy.  They thought their credit would never recover, even after they got back on their feet, and that their dream of owning a home would remain a fantasy.  With three small daughters and Siobhan’s father and grandmother living with them, renting was not ideal, as it wasn’t always easy to find a house to rent that fit their specific needs.  That all changed when she saw a HOMEteam IDA program brochure.

The young couple met with a HOMEteam housing counselor only one year after their bankruptcy, and they found getting into a home of their own may not be as impossible as they had previously suspected.  Jeremy and Siobhan had to learn to budget strictly, something they had never done before.

“We couldn’t have done it without the help of the [IDA] program and the HOMEteam counselors.” Siobhan said.

The Individual Development Account [IDA] helps families like the Charrons commit to saving for major purchases, such as buying a home, or attaining higher education.  It matches the savings of an individual as they work towards their goal, and fosters good savings habits. In the Charron’s case, they each had an account, and saved enough to put towards their down payment, closing cost and other expenses associated with buying a home.

“Going through the IDA program and then doing the Home Buyer and Financial Capabilities Seminars, it really taught us a lot – how to use your credit, how to make it better, and how to prepare for the future and the unexpected… we really are grateful,” Siobhan said.

The paperwork involved in the application process was substantial; however the Charron family was able to complete what was necessary and not miss a class.  “We maximized the payments [into the IDA accounts], and we struggled. We were tight on things like groceries, but we knew we had to do it to meet our goal” Jeremy commented.

They saved and put money towards their IDA for a year before they started the home buying process, at times saving $200 a month, no small feat with two small girls and parents to feed.  They attended classes with HOMEteam, received counseling, and eventually found a home they were interested in.  It seemed nearly perfect for their situation.  It had enough bedrooms to accommodate their two children and Siobhan’s father and grandmother, and even had two bedrooms and a bath on the first floor, providing accessibility to her aging parents.  It was a little out of their price range, but the seller eventually agreed to meet them at a more affordable price point.

It was at this moment the lender suddenly rescinded their pre-approval, and it nearly cost them a chance at owning a home. “We were devastated,” Siobhan recalls.

Crestfallen and ready to fold, they called Ryan Tufts, their Home Ownership Coach at HOMEteam, for help.  Jeremy’s new employer had referred him to his lender, and without a secondary recommendation they were weary to try just any lender.  Ryan recommended several lenders who often work with HOMEteam’s clients.  Siobhan and Jeremy found a lender who was able to work with them and their unique situation to get the approval they needed to get into their new home.

Now owners living and working in their new home, Siobhan and Jeremy are proud of what they accomplished, “Now we are here, and we feel like we are through the hardest parts. We are truly grateful to be here.  There are always new challenges, but at least we are home.”

Welcome to HOMEblog!

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I’d like to welcome you to the launching of the HOMEblog!  Our HOMEteam coaches will be utilizing this blog to impart much of their skilled, useful and often very interesting knowledge and ideas on future homebuyers and current homeowners.  We believe that every homebuyer and homeowner should have a trained coach on their side to guide them through the many complexities of buying and maintaining a home.  We are excited to be that objective and experienced “voice of reason.”

We understand the purchase and upkeep of your dream home can be very daunting and are happy to offer that friendly face with the necessary skills waiting to educate and assist you in person.  Our team of well trained and certified counselors work with NH residents of all backgrounds in helping to achieve and keep the dream of homeownership!

In honor of April being Financial Literacy Month and Fair Housing Month, we have hosted and participated in a packed schedule of Financial Capabilities Workshops, First Time Homebuyer Seminars and Foreclosure Prevention Information Sessions.  It’s nice to see so many NH residents taking part in empowering themselves through education and knowledge! I hope you will find our HOMEblog as a valuable and important resource.

Written By: Paul McLaughlin