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Happy National Homeownership Month! Owning a home can cause you to be filled with questions you had never even thought to ask before. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! We’ve answered a few burning homeownership questions below:

  1. What’s better about buying than renting?
    A home is an investment. When you make your monthly mortgage payments, the money is going toward something that can serve you and your family for years. While renting is a great option for many, especially for small periods of time, when you rent, your money doesn’t go toward an investment into your future. The money you use for rent payments is gone forever just as other everyday transactions.
  1. I’ve always heard you need 20% for a downpayment, is that true?
    While 20% down has been the tried and true recommendation, it’s actually not needed, and not always the best option. You shouldn’t have to save for years and years before you can even think about making that down payment. There are many loan programs specifically for first-time homebuyers, and even some through the government, that allow you to put down as little as 5% or less.
  1. How does my credit affect buying a home?
    The better your credit score, the lower the interest rate your lender will give you. While a low credit score doesn’t prevent you from buying a home, it could require you to make higher payments than you had originally expected.
  1. Should I use a real estate agent?
    Using a real estate agent is a great idea. Not only does a Realtor help you with the whole process, but he or she can assist you in the most important step — price negotiation.
  1. What other costs, other than mortgage payments, should I think about?
    Unfortunately your mortgage won’t be the only charge you’ll have to worry about when it comes to the homebuying process. There are several extra costs that come along with being a first-time homebuyer, such as moving costs, repair costs and closing costs.

With all the unfamiliarity homebuying can bring, we know we didn’t cover every single one of your FAQs. That’s why United Housing offers homebuyer education courses and other resources that will give you the knowledge and tools you need to embark on the journey of buying your first home. Contact us today to find out more.

However — if you have a burning question you need answered ASAP, comment below and we’ll help!

Picking a home that will suit your needs now and in the future

When buying a home, everyone is looking for what serves their needs at their current stage of life. Of course, no one is going to purchase a house that negatively affects the way they live now. However, something that many potential homeowners don’t consider is what their needs will be later on. Life can change and fast! That’s why it’s a good idea to think long-term before purchasing a home. What future needs may arise? Will your family grow? Do you have an aging loved one who may have trouble with a multilevel abode?

Location
A location may seem perfect for your present situation, but what if that changes? For example, you may find a house that isn’t close to anything you usually frequent, but you sacrifice that because it is right next door to your job and you can’t pass it up. What if you change jobs one day? Or, what if your job moves office spaces? Try not to let  current employment keep you from the location you want to live in now so you aren’t stuck in the future.

Future Projects
Be careful buying a home with features you don’t like solely based on the idea that you will renovate it in the future. Things you think you will have time for now may not always end up being feasible. Life and all the busyness that comes with it can sometimes get in the way.

Size
A home that may seem to be the perfect size now could end up feeling quite the opposite down the road. Be sure you keep in mind whether or not you might have children or even a relative joining you, as that may require an extra bedroom or two. People are not the only thing that can make your space seem like it’s closing in on you. If you work from home with a job that is increasingly demanding, you could end up needing more “office” space. In addition, consider yard size. Do you envision having a furry friend that would need space to run and play?

Resale
You may think this is the place you will live forever, but you never know, which is why it’s important to always consider a home’s value in terms of resale. Look at it through the lens of the average homebuyer instead of just in terms of you and your family.


House for sale
Affordability
A mortgage payment that seems mostly doable now could turn into a real stressor on your budget. When looking to buy a home, make sure the mortgage payments and other fees are payable in any situation, for example, temporary unemployment, unexpected medical bills, etc. Wishful thinking isn’t always the best to cling to when it comes to home payments.

These are just a few things you need to consider before signing on the dotted line. Just remember, when it comes to buying a home that’s going to be with you for a while, the future is just as important as the present.

Get rid of wintry gloom and embrace the fresh feel and bright colors of spring! Give the exterior of your home some seasonal TLC when the season changes with these outdoor rehab ideas.

Entryway
First impressions can be tough, so make them easier by giving your home’s entryway a more welcoming feel. Start by adding a fresh finish or new handle to your door. Spruce up the path leading up to your door by introducing some stepping stones or new potted plants. Next, grant a new coat of paint to your mailbox or fix that dent that’s been there for too long! Think about replacing your house numbers with shinier ones or polishing the existing ones.

Landscaping
Photo Sep 15 11 11 57 AM copyDon’t let things get too rough around the hedges. When adding new, beautiful flowers or plants to the outside of your home, remember to trim tree branches and bushes, as well as pull weeds. If you don’t have much of a green thumb, consider choosing low-maintenance plants that still spruce things up. Additionally, maintain a mowed and watered lawn so the grass is greener on your side.

Maintenance
Outdoor maintenance isn’t as fun as planting a rose bush, but it’s even more important because it improves your home’s curbside appeal and longevity. Clean the gutters, fix concrete cracks and remove cobwebs or smudges from exterior windows. Inspect the safety levels of outdoor fixtures, such as the sturdiness of railings and fences, or trees close in proximity to electrical lines. Keep an eye out for water leakage and broken shingles.Fixing small things now could save the headache later.

Final touches
Lights can make the world of difference in brightening (literally and figuratively) your home’s exterior. The addition of a new light or lamp to your porch can give it a glowing and more homey appearance. How about some front door décor? Try a fun wreath or a cute welcome mat. These inviting touches are usually relatively inexpensive and easy to find. Finally, try some outdoor spring cleaning. Old items in your garage or a patio chair that you rarely use are all things that might be better elsewhere and can reduce the possibility of a cluttered-looking exterior.
Welcome

Let these tips help you to reflect the excitement of spring on your home! It’s the perfect time to amplify curbside appeal.

If you find yourself waking up this morning with a roof over your head and a bed in which to sleep, consider yourself fortunate! Home insecurity is a difficult reality for many members of our community, and a severe lack of affordable, decent housing is partly to blame.

There’s no need to feel any guilt. We would love for everyone to wake up in their warm beds, especially during this winter season! But we do want you to recognize how fortunate you are while thinking about how you can help others overcome housing insecurity.

So, what can you do to help support the development of affordable housing in Memphis? First, you can share your knowledge with your friends and neighbors. If you know families who are renting and think homeownership may not be an option for them, let them know about United Housing. We can supply the knowledge that families need to actualize their dream of homeownership.

Next, be sure to vote! Many organizations like United Housing receive government support that makes our program possible. Without this support, we’re limited in how much aide we can provide to families. Your candidates, especially local officials, might also take stances on development in your community and city. Consider candidate positions on housing and development when you head to the polls.

Finally, you can make an enormous impact by becoming a regular donor to United Housing. As a not-for-profit organization, we invest every penny beyond our operational costs into programs that support families striving toward homeownership, and we even build affordable homes for families to purchase! When you support United Housing with a one-time or recurring gift, you’re investing in families, the education of children, the revitalization of neighborhoods and a reduction in crime, all of which are impacted when we have more homeowners in our community.

You guessed it – strong! Since the housing market crashed following the recession in 2008, things have slowly been inching onward and upward in Memphis. Earlier this year, several news outlets, including Forbes, reported that the local real estate market was booming. Sheldon Rosengarten of Memphis’ Marx-Bensdorf Realtors told WMC-TV that he has never seen anything like the current Mid-South market in his 40 years of experience!

Quick facts courtesy of Zillow:

  • Price per square foot: $68
  • Home value: $83,400*
  • List price: $109,900
  • Days on the market: 62

*Home values have gone up 6.5% over the past year.

According to Realtor.com, Memphis has been a seller’s market for most of 2018 (but that can fluctuate, so check this link to see the current state of the market). This means those looking to purchase a home outnumber those who are selling their homes. Because demand is high and supply is low, this type of market is more advantageous for the sellers rather than buyers. Zillow reports that homes are only on the market for 62 days. And, with so many being on the hunt, buyers often get into bidding wars, which oftentimes results in homes being sold for far more than the asking price (and sometimes, more than they’re actually worth).

Although it is a seller’s market, there are still some positive takeaways for home buyers. For example, the median list price of homes still falls well below the national average, with Memphis’ coming in at $109,900 and the national average at $275,000. And, to make matters even sweeter for those looking to buy, homes in the Bluff City typically sell for $10,300 less than the list price even with the current state of affairs.

Don’t let a seller’s market deter you! If you’re interested in purchasing a home, United Housing is here to help. From homebuyer education classes and credit counseling to mortgage lending and down payment assistance, we can help make your dream of owning a home a reality.

When preparing to purchase a home, many questions arise. Luckily, we’re here to help! One of the most common topics we discuss with our clients seeking homeownership is credit scores. So, how does your credit score impact your ability to get a mortgage loan? Here’s the scoop.

Your credit score, which is calculated based on the information in your credit report, is a key ingredient in determining two things when it comes to securing a mortgage loan. Not only does it determine whether or not you qualify for a mortgage loan, it also dictates the interest rate you will pay each month. Before we dive too deep, let’s break down credit score ranges to give you an idea of where you stand.

  • 750-850 is considered "excellent"
  • 700-749 is considered "good"
  • 650-699 is "fair"
  • 300-649 is "poor"

Your credit score is calculated based on the information in your credit report, including your lending history, length of credit accounts and any incidence of collections, among other things. If you have a higher credit score, you may be eligible for lower interest rates and are more likely to be approved for your mortgage loan. The lowest credit score to purchase a home with a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan is 600, according to credit.com. FHA loans are great for first-time homebuyers and require a minimum down payment of 3.5 percent.

Now, just because a credit score of 600 will likely secure your home does not mean you should stop working toward improving your credit score. Part of our education program at United Housing is our credit counseling. Raising your credit score is extremely important as it can lighten financial burdens for years to come. So, how do you do it?

Pack your patience. Your credit score didn’t plummet overnight and it won’t skyrocket overnight either, but don’t panic! Raising your credit score is definitely doable, and we are here to help. Here are a few tips.

  1. Contact your creditors to set up a payment plan.
  2. Pay your bills on time every month. If possible, pay more than once in a billing cycle to speed the process of raising your score.
  3. Pay off credit cards that are “maxed out” first.
  4. Do not close unused credit card accounts. If you must close accounts, close those that are newer.

For more information on how your credit score plays into purchasing a home or on United Housing’s credit counseling services, give us a call at 901-272-1122.

Last month, we discussed the impact stable homeownership has on children's health and wellbeing. But, it’s not just the physical health that’s impacted – a child’s social development and education are linked to his or her housing situation.

Consider this scenario – a grade-school aged child lives in low-income rental housing. Though his home has two parents who are invested in his well being, he is subjected to frequent moving as his parents struggle to find a renting situation that is safe and stable. Each move changes his school zoning, and puts him in a new classroom with a new teacher, sometimes in the middle of an academic year. Progress tracking is inconsistent, teachers can’t identify challenges and he fails to meet educational milestones as a result. This scenario doesn’t even begin to touch the implications of social development that occur when children are forced to frequently abandon and make new friends.

Statistically, children in under-resourced communities lag behind their peers in standardized tests. There are a few causes that shape this trend: residential instability, absenteeism and comparatively worse schools. Homeownership can have a positive impact in each of these areas.

Homeowners stay put. A study by National Association of Home Builders shows that the average homeowner lives in their house for 13 years. Coincidentally, that’s the length of time a typical US child spends in the public school system. Residential stability allows students to progress through schools where teachers and administrators know them and are invested in their education. They also keep a similar group of peers, spurring strong social development during crucial formative years.

Health and homeownership are linked in children. If you haven’t already, read our recent blog post on homeownership impact on health in children. Absenteeism can be greatly reduced if students are healthy and able to go to school.

Homeowners invest in their neighborhood, including schools. When it comes time to vote and pay taxes, homeowners contribute to the health and success of their local schools. Homeowners are twice as likely to vote, and electing local representatives who are dedicated to your schools can have a positive impact on school funding and opportunities.

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P: +1 901.272.1122

2750 Colony Park Drive
Memphis, TN 38118

 

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Monday-Thursday – 8:00am to 4:30pm
Friday – 8:00am to 3:30pm
Saturday-Sunday - Closed

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