'Moving The Needle'

Homeport counselor Kerrick Jackson, left, at 'Readiness for Home Ownership' class.

Homeport counselor Kerrick Jackson, left, at 'Readiness for Home Ownership' class.

New Homebuyer ‘Readiness’ Class Added At Homeport

One by one, attendees of the Homeport “Readiness for Home Ownership” workshop were asked what they expected. Eventually the question wound its way to Brooklyn Hill, one of the younger members in the group.

“I want knowledge,” Hill said. “I am at the beginning stage. I just don’t want to be conned.”

For more than 15 years Homeport has been offering home buyer education classes, an 8-hour course on the details of what is involved in becoming a homeowner and professionals likely to be encountered or needed.

But a new “Readiness” one-hour course, free, has evolved, at Homeport because it has become clear that while thousands have taken the homebuyer education course, a good chunk never purchased a home.

Housing Advisory Director Netta Whitman

Housing Advisory Director Netta Whitman

“We are trying to help people move the needle from ‘I want to buy a house’ to actually doing it,” said Homeport Housing Advisory Services Director Netta Whitman.

In one hour, attendees of the newly designed course are asked a variety of questions that forces them to think harder about the process, to learn if they are on the road to be home owners or understand what it will take to get there.  The questions are:

1.     When do you want to buy a home?

2.     On a scale of 1 to 10, how far along are you in the homebuyer process (1 being mildly interested and 10 being actively shopping for a mortgage and property)?

3.     Describe your current progress in buying a home. Include information like how much you have saved, whether you working on paying off debts, how much you are able to save each month, etc.

4.     Describe your current obstacles. Include information like accounts that may be in collection, debts that you are working on paying off, major upcoming expenses, etc.

5.     Over the past three months, have you followed a personal budget, spending plan or financial plan?

The “Readiness” students are told that the questions are based on the premise that “A dream without a plan is only a wish.”

The new course requires hard thought, and step by step support that could eventually lead to it, they are told.

'Readiness' participant Brooklyn Hill in followup counseling session with Kerrick Jackson.

'Readiness' participant Brooklyn Hill in followup counseling session with Kerrick Jackson.

“Be honest with yourself,” Homeport home buyer education instructor Kerrick Jackson tells the “Readiness for Home Ownership” class members.

Readiness class students are offered one on one meetings to learn their credit score, the first step in determining if they can qualify for a mortgage. They will be given help on how to build a budget and save money.

Knowing about different down payment assistance programs is important too, Jackson said.  A step not to be overlooked is family buy-in, Jackson added. For example, a child may be concerned about moving away from friends.

A good response could be, “But you will have your own room and gain more friends,” Jackson said.

After taking the Readiness course, participants can expect to be contacted by Homeport within a month to schedule any follow up meetings with counselors.

“Once the client is ready to move forward they will be referred to the Homebuyer Education class. When taking this class, the expectation will be that they are ready to purchase within 12 months,” Whitman said. Within 60 days of taking the Homebuyer class, counselors will check in with the course graduates.

“Our service will focus less on numbers of graduates and more on outcomes, to help them move to where they want to be, which is homeownership,” Whitman said.

Registration for the readiness course or the traditional homebuyer education course is available on-line or by calling 614 221-8889.