Resources Available to Help Renters Ready to Buy a Home

Think you’re not ready to buy a house? It might be much more possible than you imagine.

That was the case for Elaina and Wesley Wheeler, local parents of three who are getting ready to purchase their first home after years of believing the obstacles were too great.

They recently completed Community Action Services and Food Bank’s free homebuyer education course, where we worked with them to overcome obstacles like high down payments, low credit and lack of knowledge about available resources. 

Like many Utahns, the Wheelers were more ready to buy a home than they thought. 

Imagine this: You and your spouse have three children and you just finished college. You’ve been wanting to buy a home for a long time, but it just hasn’t seemed feasible. With low credit scores and rental prices that meet or exceed what a mortgage would be, home buying seems a long way into the future. 

The Wheelers were in this situation, and it’s common to many Utah County families. But CASFB’s homebuyer education class opened their eyes to knowledge and resources that helped them overcome their situation.

They learned that even with high home prices in Utah, low interest rates have made purchasing a home more affordable than they thought. 

They learned ethical practices for the homebuying process.

They gained tools needed to resolve any disputes that could come up along the way. The six-hour class (also available as two three-hour classes) is approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and taught by NeighborWorks America, with certified teachers. 

It’s designed to empower families to become long-time homeowners. Sometimes, all you need is a little knowledge to take the next big step in your life. 

When many families think of buying a home, that 20 percent down payment can seem like an insurmountable obstacle. 

The Wheelers felt that way. With high rent and other bills, saving for a down payment didn’t seem possible. But in our class, they found out about down payment assistance programs, and that was a game-changer.

Utah has lots of homeownership assistance programs available. Forms of assistance vary by program but may include grants; zero-interest, forgivable loans; zero-interest, deferred-payment loans; and low-interest loans. 

Recipients must qualify for these programs, but if you do qualify, they can greatly reduce the burden of down payments and closing costs. 

When it comes to buying a home, there isn’t one-size-fits-all advice you should follow; everyone’s situation is different, so everyone’s approach will be different. As part of our Homebuyer and Mortgage Counseling Program, for example, we meet with clients one-on-one to help them make the best plan for their individual needs. 

Additionally, you might not need to take the same classes as your neighbor. If you were to take our financial management series, you could take all four classes if needed or just stick to the topics you need to brush up on:

Budgeting to achieve your goals;

Understanding your credit, credit report and credit score;

Becoming your own debt manager;

Saving for your future. 

The Wheelers had debt management down, but they did want to learn more about credit, so they took that class and learned about the importance of paying on time and how to review their credit report to make sure it is accurate. 

They didn’t have bad credit; they just needed a little knowledge to help them make their score as good as it could be. 

In the end, being ready to purchase a home is all about education. Educating yourself will help you identify goals and prepare for a smooth home-buying process. 

You might just need to take care of a couple of things on your credit report, like the Wheelers. 

Or you might need to make a plan for managing debt or saving for a down payment. Whatever your situation, education, assistance programs and customized advice can help you get ready to move into a home that’s all your own. (Serve Daily submission.)

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