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Online First-Time Homebuyer Seminar This Wednesday

Hawai‘i HomeOwnership Center member Jonelle Tsunezumi and her children in front of their new home.

By Lisa Scontras

Do you dream of owning a home one day? You’re not alone.

And, now is a great time to start preparing.

For many Hawaii families, it seems there are countless obstacles to becoming homeowners, but that doesn’t mean that buying a home is out of reach. Hawai‘i HomeOwnership Center has helped many local families overcome the roadblocks to owning a home with its proven program — and online options.

“In many cases, we find perseverance is the key to achieving homeowner-ship,” said Reina Miyamoto, executive director of Hawai‘i HomeOwnership Center. “Perseverance allows buyers to create a plan with their homeownership coach and stick to that plan, even if it takes a while to pay down debt or accumulate savings. Our program specifically

addresses their obstacles, and connects buyers with purchase assistance programs.”

If you dream of becoming a homeowner but don’t know how, enlisting professionals who can walk you through the process step by step can turn your enthusiasm into a plan.

“Most families do not follow a budget and if they started to track their expenses and make some adjustments, they may have more funds available than they originally thought,” Miyamoto added. “Most don’t realize how much of a down payment is required to purchase a home. And

our program also lets them know that lowto nodown payment options exist. Oftentimes families are able to save more than they expected by working together — this includes the children — and following a budget.”

Hawai‘i HomeOwnership Center staff helps prospective buyers realize the impact of their monthly debt payments on mortgage qualification.

“Besides the actual FICO credit score, the amount of debt is a factor in loan qualification and can be a challenge for borrowers,” she said. “When couples come together and are on the same page, regarding how to manage their money, it’s powerful to witness what they can accomplish together.

“Sometimes it means cutting those convenience items, like coffee, eating out, picking up fast food on the way home, which may require planning ahead — making meals in the crock-pot, making coffee at home and bringing a thermos to work,” Miyamoto said.

“One couple loved to travel,” she continued, “and thought they were going to have to give that up because they had a lot of debt but they found a budget website with really cheap airfares and found it fun to take spontaneous trips based on affordability and opportunity. They were able to travel, pay down their debt and still save by working together and sticking to their budget — as well as keeping their dream of homeowner-ship in front of them. Now, they are happy homeowners with plans to grow their family.

“By understanding the home purchase process, and the steps to follow, families can see homeownership is possible. Those who attend our free home-ownership orientation, find hope — especially through our testimonial video. They can see themselves in the stories.”

The center’s success rate is impressive: 60 percent of people who enrolled in the program and may have thought they couldn’t afford to buy a home, did — and 72 percent of those who completed the home buyer classes purchased a home within two years. More than half of those who successfully purchased a home were considered low or moderate income when they enrolled in the program.

The first step to home-ownership is to check out the free live online one-hour orientation session and learn more about the center and the services it provides. The next session is scheduled for this Wednesday, March 25, from 6 to 7 p.m.

For more information about Hawai‘i HomeOwnership Center’s program, or to sign up for one of the free online orientation sessions, go to hihomeownership.org/orientation_begin or call 523-9500.

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