ADC’s Homestretch Program Helps Make Dreams Come True
The training provided by the ADC’s Homestretch program guides African refugee and immigrant population and others from the mere dream of buying their own home all the way to what tools in their workshops they’ll need to maintain their investment. Homestretch is a very comprehensive, one-day class filled with a wealth of information. The trainers are experts in the real estate, finance and mortgage loan industry. They explained in this workshop how to develop good credit practices, establish healthy budgeting practices, how to shop for realtors, and all of the how-to’s of navigating the journey of home ownership.
14 participants gathered in ADC’s vibrant conference space on a bright and shiny Saturday morning to spend the day getting fully informed about how to become savvy home owners. NeNe Matey-Keke, a real estate broker and financial literacy coach, got the participants thinking about long-term financial stability; this is more than just buying your first home, he said, this was just the beginning of self-sustainability. Each participant introduced themselves and stated their purpose for doing Homestretch. Everyone were at different stages – some had closing dates coming up, and some people were just there to see if home ownership was the right thing for them.
Workshop participant Roha shared that she added up all the rent money she had spent over the last 15-plus years, and it came out to $219,000, money that could have gone towards a home of her own. One thing was certain; buying a home, while being a huge responsibility, was certainly the biggest investment most people make in their lives.
There is a pride in ownership that’s lacking when renting. People treat their own homes differently; they tend to care more about their neighborhood and neighbors, pay more attention to local politics, and feel like they have more of a stake in society. America is a nation of mostly immigrants, and for immigrants the best way to feel like you have really arrived is to own real estate.
The ADC has free credit counseling and teaches credit basics as a part of its service to the community. Ayan Abdinur from ADC gave the group assurances that the ADC keeps all financial information it receives confidential, and there is no judgment about a person’s credit history. They work with people to help repair less than stellar credit. Information was given regarding how to learn about credit scores and what they mean, and more importantly, how to correct mistakes on credit reports.
Emma Kasiga from ADC spoke next about Mortgage loans. She stressed that it was important to learn some of the jargon/terminology in the mortgage industry and to gain some understanding about what agents and loan officers are talking about. As HUD approved Housing Counselors, the staff at ADC will try and answer any questions a client might have throughout their home-buying process. It’s important to avoid being taken advantage of by predatory lenders and agents who are trying to sell people more house than what the buyers can afford. ADC staff will also assist clients with educating and advocating for mortgage loans which are Sharia Law-compliant- which involves the issue of paying interest on loans. ADC has been on the forefront of working with lenders, and community faith leaders to ensure that there are options which comply with Islamic Law. To-date, two known non-Minnesota lenders, Devon Bank and Guidance Residential, have been licensed in Minnesota. ADC has been working with Minnesota Housing, Minnesota Homeownership Center and other stakeholders to make sure that such loan programs meet the needs of the community. The ADC’s main mission is to make certain immigrants build wealth by owning homes in a way that is the most comfortable to them. Emma also pointed out that there are laws protecting home-buyers against discrimination such as the Fair Housing Act, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, and Truth in Lending.
Real estate expert Emily Green spoke of how to “shop” for a real estate agent; the best way to find one might be by personal referral. Buyers have every right to interview agents in order to find the right one for them. Emily walked the class through the entire process of the home search, signing a purchase agreement all the way to the move in.
Emma closed up the workshop with a discussion concerning sealing the deal on the closing date. She stressed the importance of reading and understanding all of the documents, knowing that the mortgage title is clear, and to thoroughly comprehend what’s being signed on that date of closing. Workshop participant Nimo kidded, “So you need to be an attorney, financial expert, and handyman in order to be a homeowner?”
The Homestretch program is open to immigrants and others in the community; and allows people to learn exactly what they need to navigate the quagmire of becoming a homeowner.