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Guest Editorial

Road to home ownership easier now

Are you ready to say good-bye to landlords and monthly rent checks and join the 70 percent of Americans who own their own home? There's never been a better time to buy a home, and the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can help you achieve your goal.

Do your homework - Prospective homebuyers need to understand the process of buying a home and obtaining a mortgage. Know your financial options - understand your credit and obtain pre- and post-purchase counseling. Check out the services available in the community, including schools, transportation, job training, and health care.

Become educated - Attend a free homebuyer class offered by a HUD-funded housing counseling agency. Find a counseling agency near you at www.hud.gov/counseling or call our office at 1-877-741-3281. Some classes are offered in languages other than English. Be an informed consumer, so you don't become a victim of predatory lending schemes.

Get a loan - There are many loan programs out there, but one that has stood the test of time is the FHA-insured loan program administered by HUD. For over 70 years, FHA loans have helped families purchase a home. They have a low 3 percent down payment (which may be 100 percent gifted from an acceptable source), and more liberal underwriting criteria, allowing higher qualifying debt ratios.

FHA loans can be used to purchase single-family residences as large as a four-plex (if the owner occupies one of the units), condos, manufactured homes, or HUD homes (www.hud.gov/homes), which are available for sale at reduced prices after foreclosure on an FHA-insured loan. The loans are assumable and adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) are available. There's even an FHA loan (203k) to purchase homes in need of rehabilitation. To learn more, contact an FHA approved lender or call our Homeownership Center at 1-888-827-5605.

Overcome the downpayment hurdle - HUD provides funding for down payment assistance programs run through city, county and state government agencies. To find out about down payment assistance and other home ownership programs in your area, go to www.hud.gov/localbuying and click on your state.

If you are ready to own your own home, help is just a click or call away. Visit HUD's hom buying web page at www.hud.gov/buying or call your local HUD office in Seattle (1-877-741-3281), in Spokane (509-353-0674), or in Portland (208-334-1990).

John W. Meyers is the Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, serving the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska.

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