Buying your first home is one of the greatest milestones to achieve in life. It’s the pinnacle of hard work, dedicated planning, and saving. However, African Americans, with a homeownership rate of 44% compared to 72.7% of white families, usually struggle to achieve this milestone.
African Americans control fewer resources today and have more financial burdens than their white counterparts. This results from the discrimination and exclusion of blacks in the housing market and in most facets of American life.
To level the homebuying field, the black community must acquire financial education. It must also familiarize itself with the buying process, loan application, and approval requirements.
Here are our expert homeownership and mortgage tips for African Americans
1. Get Your Finances Together
Buying a home is among the most significant financial commitments you’ll make in your lifetime. And with mortgage and inflation rates continuing to increase, it’s essential to organize expenses, create a budget, and develop a comfortable nest egg before thinking of becoming a homeowner.
Having a nest egg is necessary, as homeownership comes with unexpected expenses — from a leaky pipe to a broken AC and many more. We advise that you plan for emergency funds with at least 3-6 months of expenses.
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2. Build Strong credit
When considering buying a home, checking your credit report and score is important. You can begin by obtaining a free copy of your credit report and review it for any errors or discrepancies.
Next, you take steps to improve your credit by paying bills on time, reducing outstanding debts, and keeping credit card balances low. Establishing a positive payment history over time will increase your creditworthiness and enhance your chances of obtaining a favorable mortgage.
3. Get a Pre-Approved Loan
Before you make an offer on a home, you should go through a mortgage loan pre-approval process. The bank will review your credit and income history and rate you. This will present you as a strong applicant when you make a home purchase offer in the future.
You should work with a lender who’ll pre-approve you and pre-underwrite your loan. This final loan approval will strengthen your offer because there will be no need for a finance contingency.
4. Know all expenses
It might look as if your only expense as a homeowner is your mortgage, but that’s not true. Other costs come with owning a home, including:
5. Research Mortgage Options
Various mortgage programs are available, each with its own advantages and eligibility requirements. Explore options like Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, which offer lower down payments and more flexible credit requirements.
6. Find a Home that Meets Your Needs
When you’re finding a home to buy, keep in mind that it’s where you will live for the next 20 to 30 years. With this in mind, you will be realistic when choosing a home. A few questions to ask during the process include:
- Does it satisfy your want?
- Is it in an ideal location?
- Is there anything that you would love to change about the home?
7. Understand Your Rights
8. Accept Only The Best Mortgage Rates
It’s advisable not to go with the first mortgage offer you receive. Shop around and compare rates and terms from different lenders to ensure you secure the best possible deal. Consider working with a mortgage broker who can help you navigate the market and negotiate on your behalf.
Remember, even a small decrease in interest rates can save you a good amount of money over the lifetime of your loan.
9. Get a Reliable Realtor
The keyword here is “reliable.” You want to deal with an agent who has your best interest at heart. We’re talking about someone willing and ever-ready to answer your questions, including resources for first-time buyers-related ones. In fact, you should think about your agent as a counselor and guardian.
But if your agent doesn’t have answers to the questions that will help you land the best deal or is unwilling to answer them, you should consider getting another agent.
10. Be Realistic With Your Budget
Once you set your home budget, stick to it. A Report has shown that first-time buyers are more likely to exceed their budgets than repeat buyers. So, before you meet with a lender to determine what mortgage you’ll be approved for, carefully examine your finances and spending preferences and figure out the monthly payment range you feel you can afford comfortably.
Homeownership is an essential route to financial empowerment and stability. But, as an African American, who the odds are stacked against, you’ll need to educate yourself, build a strong credit profile, understand your right to overcome historical barriers and achieve your dream of buying your home.
Remember, the key to success lies in preparation, persistence, and building a supportive network of professionals who are dedicated to helping you along the way.
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