Hector Salgado bought his very first home with confidence. He knew it was a residence he could manage. He crunched the numbers.
Salgado was tired of renting and spent several months searching for a home to purchase. He had a good credit score and planned to apply for a loan but was uncertain about what price range he could afford. He enrolled in the free Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice First Time Homebuyer Class.
Four topics were addressed in the day-long instruction: (1) “Steps To Successful Homeownership” which included funds available to first time homebuyers as well as fair housing rights; (2) “Winning Credit History/Shopping for a Loan” which included items required to make a loan contract, budget and money management, and the loan and application process; (3) “Shopping for a Home/Choosing a Realtor” which included what to know when looking for a home and realtor, understanding a sales contract, and negotiation and home inspection; and (4) “Home Ownership” which included what it means to be a home owner, how to care for your home and maintain it, security issues and avoiding foreclosure.
Participants in the class are eligible for assistance from Manatee and Sarasota counties bond and/or grant programs for down payment and closing costs. A few weeks after the class, Salgado purchased a house. “The certification from the class helped me get a loan,” Salgado said.
Soon after, he visited another First Time Homebuyer Class session to tell his success story. Students in the class peppered him with questions. “This class forced me to figure out my budget and helped me to understand what homes where suitable for me,” he told them. “The whole process finally seemed possible to me after taking this class.” The students smiled when he gave them one last piece of advice: “Buy a home you can afford.”
The Catholic Charities First Time Homebuyer Class is free of charge and offered monthly in both English and Spanish. Many sessions are filled far in advance.
“We have been offering this class for several years,” said Catholic Charities Housing Counselor Lucy Sanchez. “The need for this information remains constant. The goal is to avoid foreclosure by providing knowledge that sets new homeowners up for success. We have learned hard lessons from the devastating housing crisis we suffered here in Florida.”