The Southfield-based nonprofit JVS Human Services is offering a virtual home buying education seminar aimed to help first-time home buyers navigate the difficult process that comes with purchasing a home. The class costs $50.
SOUTHFIELD — Making a large purchase such as a house or car can be scary for a first-time buyer.
Jordan Falby attended a JVS Human Services housing seminar in 2020 prior to the pandemic. After taking the classes, Falby purchased a home in Southfield. Falby works for United Way and is connected to several different nonprofits, which is how she discovered the classes being taught at JVS. She had referred several of her own clients to the service and figured if it was good enough for her to send clients to, it would be good enough for her, and she decided to take advantage of the program.
“The real value is having somebody who is objective to work with,” she said. “Your Realtor wants you to buy a house. They’re trying to help you, but they have some skin in the game here, whereas the financial coach at JVS, they don’t really care one way or the other if you end up buying the house. But they want to make sure that if you’re going to go through with this, that you are set up for success.”
In order to ease any anxieties about the process and what it takes, the Southfield-based nonprofit will offer virtual home buying education classes over the next several weeks in order to offer Michigan families the opportunity to learn about the entire homebuying process during the current real estate market, where houses in many areas of the state are being purchased quickly, often at or above the asking price.
“In our classes we want to cover a lot of the things that are happening currently with purchasing in a pandemic,” said JVS homebuyer education expert Laltsha Cunningham. “In our classes, we teach traditional information, which is money management, budgeting, credit and savings. We’ll have Realtors participate in the class and give other participants a clear outlook of what to expect as it relates to purchasing right now.”
Class sessions began July 26 and will continue 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 2, 1-5 p.m. Aug. 16, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 13 and 1-5 p.m. Sept. 27.
These four-hour Zoom classes cost $50 to attend and are taught by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development certified homebuyer education counselors.
Topics include credit education, mortgage terminology, how to qualify for a mortgage, how to avoid foreclosure, and proper home maintenance. The class is approved for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority Down Payment Assistance Program, which offers lower-income families the opportunity to receive a $7,500 loan towards the purchase of a home.
Falby said her financial coach at JVS was proactive in making sure she understood the wide variety of information given out in the classes. She had regular check-ins with her coach, and though the class was done at her own pace, the JVS coaches often helped her through parts of the program live.
“This program really gives you a good baseline foundation to be able to understand the purchase that you’re actually making and to understand what additional perks or benefits are available to you that you may not necessarily know about or understand,” Falby said. “There’s a significant amount of pros and cons to every benefit that’s available to you, and there’s no way that you would know that without having somebody who’s going to walk you through all of it.”
Cunningham and others at JVS were noticing foreclosures on houses even prior to the pandemic. People were unable to maintain their mortgages and ended up losing their homes. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a lot of shifts in the housing market as homeowners decided they either had too much space in their homes or not enough and wanted to make the appropriate changes. These shifts caused a “hot” market, where everybody wanted to purchase a home, but the supply of homes up for sale was limited. Cunningham said the federal government significantly reduced interest rates, which also contributed to the desire to move for a lot of families.
As for the largest piece of advice she can offer for homebuyers, Cunningham said paying attention to your credit is at the top of the list.
“I think the two main things that stand out are knowing where you are as far as your credit,” she said. “Then also knowing how much you can actually afford. I’ve been an underwriter before, and they qualify you on gross income. What you gross and what you bring home are always two different numbers. If you’re qualifying someone on gross income, that makes the underwriter feel like you have a little bit more money than you actually do. I think it’s important that people focus on their credit and keep those credit cards and any additional debts as low as possible. That happens by doing a budget.”
Those interested in registering for a class should visit www.jvshumanservices.org/who-we-serve/homebuyers.