Taking The First Step to Homeownership in 2020
Hawaii HomeOwnership Center members Peter and Sandy Grach, who became successful homeowners in 2012, with their three children.
There may be nothing more discouraging than dreaming about your first home, then giving up on your dream because:
• Your income is too low compared to the high cost of housing
• You have too much debt or credit problems
• You don’t have the cash for a down payment
• You don’t know if you can qualify for a mortgage
• You can’t even imagine becoming a homeowner
Hawaii home prices can be that intimidating. Indeed, many Hawaii families experience one or more of these obstacles to becoming homeowners, but there’s no need to give up on your dream.
What if you had a homeownership coach to help guide you through each of these stumbling blocks?
At the Hawaii HomeOwnership Center, coaching is part of the program, along with classes covering tried-and-true formulas for boosting credit rating, paying down debt, budgeting and saving. Coaching borrowers on how to become financially fit, mortgage ready, and successful first-time homeowners is what the Hawaii HomeOwner-ship Center does best.
In many cases, prospective buyers are simply not equipped with the basics they need to turn home-buying dreams into reality.
“Many families don’t understand how their paycheck could translate to thousands of dollars of a home purchase price,” said Reina Miyamoto, executive director of the Hawaii HomeOwnership Center. “We address this through education. Our staff works with them to create an action plan.”
In addition to individualized counseling to review income, credit report, assets, and any obstacles to homebuying, the education includes nine hours of live classes, which normally take place on week-nights and Saturdays. There is also an online option available — the time to complete the course varies.
What’s the catch? There isn’t one. Classes cover start-to-finish, the homebuying process — mortgage basics, prequalification, down payments and how to complete a mortgage application.
One of the biggest obstacles facing homebuyers is too much debt. A lender will work with each student to compute their monthly debt, which determines in part, the mortgage amount for which they qualify. Counselors will show how to determine how much debt is too much, and, if necessary, help develop a debt-reduction plan.
The center’s success rate is impressive: 40 percent of people who initially thought they couldn’t afford to buy a home did so within one or two years. More than half of those who did purchase a home were considered low or moderate income when they enrolled in the program. “Homeownership coaching is unlimited, and it’s up to the buyer regarding when they want to move forward in the process,” Miyamoto added.
The first step to homeowner-ship is to attend a free one-hour orientation session and learn more about the Center and the services it provides. The next live online orientation session is scheduled for Jan. 16, from 5 to 6 p.m.
For more information about Hawaii HomeOwnership Center’s program, or to sign up for a free orientation session, call 523-9500.