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Thursday, July 5, 2012
CCCS of Greater Dallas Raises Awareness of Homeownership Education
Nonprofit agency also offers free bilingual classes to future homeowners
Dallas - July 5, 2012 - Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas (CCCS of Greater Dallas), a nonprofit provider of financial education and a HUD-accredited counseling agency, provides education classes and one-on-one counseling sessions for consumers looking for guidance on first-time homeownership and reverse mortgages, as well as foreclosure prevention and beyond. For example, CCCS of Greater Dallas' held its newest homeownership class, "Life After Foreclosure" in Spanish and English in June for Homeownership Month.
Determine the right time for homeownership. With the current state of the economy, it is always best to determine the right time in your life to buy a home and what kind of home is in your price range. How much money will you be able to borrow? What types of mortgages are available, and which mortgage is best for you? Before calling or meeting with real estate professionals or potential lenders, be sure to have all the answers to these questions.
CCCS of Greater Dallas' free seminars and webinars teach consumers to take a realistic look at what to expect from homeownership, and include details on everything from financial preparation and qualifying for a mortgage, to home inspection and maintenance and avoiding foreclosure. The agency also offers one-on-one counseling sessions that review the basics of budgeting and credit, as well as understanding how much mortgage is appropriate based on income.
"Over the past few years, requests for housing counseling resulting from the prolonged real estate crisis continue to be at the forefront of our services," said Todd Mark, vice president of education for CCCS of Greater Dallas. "For those fortunate enough to be able to purchase homes at lower home prices and interest rates, we want to make sure they are making a smart purchase to avoid the possibility of their own housing crisis down the road."
Some of the tips from CCCS of Greater Dallas' popular "So You Want to be a Homeowner," include:
Analyze how much money you have saved. As with any major purchase in your life, there will be up-front costs associated with buying a home, such as a down payment, home inspection, appraisal and closing costs that can range from three to six percent of the cost of the house. Be sure to also keep in mind additional costs such as movers and/or repairs.
Examine your credit report and credit score. Before beginning your house hunt, obtain a free copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling (877) 322-8228. Your credit report is used extensively by potential lenders to evaluate your credit worthiness. Your credit score can impact your interest rate and costs for other items such as homeowner's insurance. The higher your score, the better chance you have of getting a lower interest rate.
Be realistic about maintenance and HOA costs. Compare your current expenses to the ongoing costs of a home purchase. How does your current rent or mortgage compare to the new monthly mortgage payment, taxes and insurance, as well as costs like utilities and maintenance. Several new homes also require a homeowner association fee that can range anywhere from a couple of hundred to a thousand dollars each year. And don't forget the cost of home furnishings, both indoors and out.
Decide what type of home you want. Different homes fit different people's needs and personalities. Prior to house shopping, a prepared homebuyer will develop a checklist of "must haves" versus "would like" features to compare properties. When creating the checklist, consider the following: how much space your family needs; the style and layout you prefer; a specific part of the city that is more convenient for your lifestyle; and what amenities are "must haves" such as a garage, large backyard, appliances, etc. Also consider distance from work and family, proximity to retail, restaurants and extracurricular activities. It's good to think about environmental and utility factors, neighborhood and school zones and other non-physical preferences.
Research the neighborhood. The best way to learn more about a neighborhood is to go directly to the source - ask the residents who live there. Drive through neighborhoods you're interested in to make sure the community keeps up its landscaping and home repairs, etc. It's also smart to look up foreclosures in those neighborhoods. Several foreclosures could affect your future home value. Be sure to look up crime rates as well.
Shop for a mortgage that's best for you. Select a mortgage and loan terms that are most favorable to your financial situation. CCCS of Greater Dallas recommends a 30- or 15-year fixed mortgage, but be sure you know the differences in all mortgages, including fixed-rate, adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) and federal government-insured loans from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Remember to limit your mortgage shopping to a two-week period. Several lenders pulling your credit report could show up negatively if you extend the shopping beyond this time period.
Be prepared for your first meeting with a lender. To save time, gather the following items in advance of your meeting: bank information such as account number, branch address, latest bank statement; pay stubs, W2 forms for the past two years, or other proof of employment and salary; information about debts, including loan and credit card numbers and creditor contact information; and evidence of mortgage or rental payments, such as canceled checks or money order receipts. If you are self-employed, collect balance sheets, tax returns for the past two years and a year-to-date profit and loss statement.
Sign up for a free one-on-one personal counseling or group homeownership session. To find out if homeownership is right for you, determine how much home you can get with your money, what mortgage lenders look for in approving a loan, and how you can stretch your borrowing power. Owning a home can be within reach for educated homebuyers. For more information about becoming a homeowner, call CCCS Dallas at (800) 249-2227 or visit www.cccs.net.
For more information on homeownership classes or information on free budget and credit counseling and financial education, visit www.cccs.net or call 1-800-249-2227.
About CCCS of Greater Dallas
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas, Inc. is a nonprofit, community-based credit counseling and debt management service. Established in 1974, CCCS of Greater Dallas and its affiliate offices provide financial education and counseling to consumers in-person, by phone, or Internet at 15 locations in four states. CCCS of Greater Dallas is a HUD-approved housing counseling multi-state organization and serves as one of seven counseling agencies supporting the 888-995-HOPE Hotline. The agency is also a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), the nation's largest and longest serving national nonprofit credit counseling network. CCCS of Greater Dallas is a United Way of Metropolitan Dallas service partner. To learn more about CCCS of Greater Dallas' free seminars or the agency's services, call 800-249-2227, visit www.cccs.net or become a fan of CCCS of Greater Dallas on Facebook to receive updates on agency events and offerings.