HOUSTON – As we embark on another year, we must focus on controlling more of what’s happening in our own communities, but how can you have any power, if you don’t own any property? Home ownership is more important than you think.
Look at the recent headlines about homeowners in Third Ward filing a lawsuit against the Turkey Leg Hut, a restaurant they felt was creating a nuisance in their neighborhood.
The lawsuit was later withdrawn, but the home OWNERS had the POWER to speak out, because they have invested in their lives, and have a right to be heard.
Shad Bogany, broker associate at Better Homes and Gardens Gary Greene Realtors, has been in the real estate industry for 35 years, and he knows a thing or two about the importance of homeownership for African Americans.
“The lack of home ownership among Blacks has a lot to do with the low net worth in some of our communities. Everything is built around wealth and because only 42 percent of us own homes, most of us reading this newspaper today are renters,” Bogany said.
Home ownership isn’t just about having the freedom to paint the walls, change the floor tiles or plant a garden in your yard. It’s about taking pride in something that’s yours. You tend to take care of and protect something more when you’ve invested your time, energy and MONEY into it.
The barriers for home ownership are slowly being eliminated, but we have to start taking advantage of the things that are available to us, including options for no money or 3 percent down.
“The key to increasing home ownership in our community is understanding the first-time home buyer program, the requirements of the lender and the process of purchasing a home, and most importantly, and understanding that this is an INVESTMENT that happens to be a place you live in,” Bogany said.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Start paying down your debts. Work on the higher-interest debts first.
- Pay on time, every time.
- Steer clear of new loans and accounts. The new activity will result in what’s called a “hard” credit inquiry, which can take down your score.
- You don’t need perfect credit to buy a home. But the higher your score, the simpler (and more affordable) the process will be.
- Do you have student loan debt? One of the main things you should be thinking about is your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.
- Create a budget and start saving.
And…get someone who KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING!
“We must realize that there are credentials that a person must have, everything is about implementation,” Bogany said. “Just because someone passed a real estate test (like your favorite cousin or church member), does not mean they are the professional you need.”