By: Charlestien Harris
Is it June already?! Time flies when you’re working towards healthier financial fitness. Not only is it the halfway mark of our calendar year, but it is also National Homeownership Month. During this month we celebrate the joy that owning a home brings to families, communities, and neighborhoods across the country. This month, we are promoting the benefits of homeownership and recommitting to creating opportunities for future homeowners.
In 1920, a group of local realtor associations wanted to promote the idea of homeownership and created a one-week celebration. It was such a success that by 1956, the National Association of Realtors adopted the concept and still celebrates it officially today.
In 1976, the week was officially renamed Private Property Week and ten years later it was renamed again to American Home Week. In 2002, when President George W. Bush proclaimed June as National Homeownership Month, the celebration turned into an initiative created by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Today, we continue the message of helping people realize the dream of responsible homeownership. One of the ways to help prepare yourself for homeownership is to know your numbers! Just as you should know your health numbers, you should know your homeownership numbers because those numbers can affect your overall health as well as your finances.
The Four Numbers You Should Know Before Buying a Home:
1. How much mortgage can you afford to purchase?
This is important because it is the one number that probably will not change during the process because your income determines how much house you can comfortably afford to purchase. Going above that figure can result in you having budgeting issues later down the road after the purchase.
2. What are the current mortgage rates?
In this economy since the pandemic, we have seen rates go up and down like a rollercoaster. Of course, higher interest rates could mean higher mortgage payments. You should also shop around for the best rates, which means you may have to talk to several different financial institutions to get the best rate for you as the borrower.
It would be in your best interest if you would seek the assistance of a HUD Certified Housing Counselor to help you decipher the ins and outs of the home buying process. You can find a HUD housing counselor by going to https://hudgov-answers.force.com/housingcounseling/s/. You can also contact a Southern Bancorp HUD Certified Housing Counselor by going to banksouthern.com/homeownership.
3. What is your credit score?
Knowing this before you apply for a home loan is important because there may be problems you are unaware of that can cause the loan process to be delayed or denied. If you have a low credit score, it can affect the amount of mortgage interest you will pay for the loan and it may delay the approval process. A good credit score, on the other hand, will help to make the loan underwriting process go smoother and it could increase your chances of approval. If you know your credit score ahead of time, it might give you time to correct those items that may be preventing you from getting closer to owning your own home.
4. How much will you need for your down payment and closing cost?
Saving this money can take a long time, so you should start as early as possible. One way you might shorten that timeline is to seek down payment/closing cost assistance programs. There are financial institutions that offer those types of programs, and you can ask the loan officer when you are inquiring about their loan process and other requirements. Most of those programs are income-based so you do need to do your homework to make sure meet the qualifications.
Southern Bancorp has five HUD Certified Housing Counselors on staff that will be glad to assist you with your housing needs. We also offer the Home Buyers Education Course that most financial institutions require before you close on your loan. This eight-hour course covers a wide variety of topics related to the home buying process and will also help familiarize you with terminology commonly used in the mortgage industry.
June is a great time to begin the process of gathering information to assist you with realizing your American Dream! For more information about this and other financial topics, please feel free to email me at email@example.com or call me at 662-624-5776. Until next week—Stay financially fit!