When Jessica Smith came to NeighborWorks Columbus last summer, she was a woman on a mission. A mission to transition from her overpriced rental property into a home of her own.
This would not be an easy task, but she was willing to do whatever it took. After meeting with our homeownership counselor, Ms. Smith was informed that she’d need to improve her credit before being approved to purchase a home.
She attended our financial fitness courses to enhance her budgeting & debt management skills. Ms. Smith also attended our homeownership workshops to learn the ins & outs of the homebuying process.
All of her hard work finally paid off when Ms. Smith closed on a beautiful 3-bedroom 2-bath home this past April. “It feels great being able to call something my own. It makes me feel accomplished. I feel like if I can own a home, I can do anything I put my mind to,” she said.
In order to do our part to keep our customers, staff and community safe from COVID-19, NeighborWorks Columbus has temporarily closed its doors to the public. However, we want to reiterate to you all, that this doesn’t have to put a stop to your journey to homeownership.
In fact, our dedicated homeownership staff are working just as hard from their home offices to make sure good people like you can find good homes—and even in the midst of a global pandemic, we can seamlessly walk hand in hand (virtual hands, of course) with you each step of the way.
Here’s how our virtual process to homeownership works:
Shadonna is the first person you meet on your journey to homeownership. Once a potential customer (you, perhaps!) fills out a profile on our Website, Shadonna will contact you for an intake appointment. While these normally take place in person, it’s just as easy for Shadonna to let you know what documents she needs to see and for you to upload them online. She’ll walk you through that process seamlessly!
Once you are ready for the next step, you will begin meeting with our Certified Homeownership Counselor Kimberly one on one—only these meetings will take place over the phone. Kimberly will help make sure you are completely prepared to own a home. For some, this will include just tailoring your budget; for others, you may need some work on your credit or just to build up a savings account. Rest assured, Kimberly will guide you through this to make sure you are financially ready for the next step.
Lastly, our in-house lending specialist Taylor, will help you secure the best loan and any downpayment assistance you may qualify for. She will complete a loan application with you over the phone and then send any documents for you sign electronically. This is really not so different from when we actually are working in the office!
Our services are also available in Spanish if that would be your preferred language. You will receive the necessary information in the language you are most comfortable with. Just request the language and you’ll be directed to speak with Kathy Rosado, Homeownership Service Line Manager.
While this is a strange time for all of us, please know that we are here with you and can still help you just as much as ever in the journey to homeownership. Give us a call or head to our Website to complete a customer profile and we’ll be in touch!
For many, tax season means a big refund check is right around the corner. While it can be tempting to run out and treat yourself, we have a few tips that can help you make the best of your refund.
- Say no to early refunds.
First things first, when it comes to filing your taxes, do not use a tax service that offers you an advanced refund. This type of service will take a huge portion of your refund check. There are several places you can file your taxes for free or very low cost.
Locally, Goodwill offers free tax filing services at several locations. Several online tax filing companies offer no or low cost e-file options that are user friendly and convenient. Don’t let someone else take a chunk of your hard-earned money. In this case, waiting a couple weeks longer for your check literally pays off.
- Pay down debt
Using your tax refund to pay on existing debt or collections is a great financial move. Credit card loans have an average 16% interest rate, which can make unpaid debts multiply quickly. If you have other loans, like car payments or student loans, you can use your refund to help reduce your overall debt and the length of time you have to pay loans. Before you make a large sum payment, however, remember to look at the terms of your loan and make sure there is no penalty for early payoffs.
- Build an emergency fund
Experts say that ideally, people should have 3-6 months of income saved, but any savings is better than none at all. Financial advisers like Dave Ramsay suggest at least a $1,000 emergency fund to have for accidents or a rainy day.
- Save for a down payment on a home
A home is one of the best investments you can make, so if homeownership is one of your goals, start saving for a down payment now. If you qualify for any down payment assistance, you can use the money on any closing costs or repairs or renovations you may need to make. If you’re not sure if you qualify for a home yet, give us a call and we’ll walk with you through the process!
- Give your home some TLC
If you already are a homeowner, a tax refund could go a long way in making some home repairs or improvements. Tax money could go a long way toward big repairs or even just little improvements that could enhance your quality of life. Replace a leaky faucet. Update lighting. Service your heat and air conditioning. You get the idea.