Greensboro Renters Receive Helping Hand To Homeownership
Greensboro’s attempt to turn renters into first-time homebuyers has more than doubled its original goal. The #100Homes campaign was renamed #200Homes in June, and the numbers continue to rise due to a unique collaboration.
It starts with a credit score. Based on that, the non-profit Housing Consultants Group (HCG) selects candidates and steers them into specialized instruction: 8-hour financial literacy courses; 5-week boot camps on budgeting and credit; year-long Individual Development Account classes; and more.
The collaboration extends to the city, which provides assistance for down payment and closing costs, and HCG offers housing counseling services.
Founder Sofia Crisp says the difficulty for many would-be homeowners begins with how lenders qualify buyers: on gross income.
"We all know we live on net, not on gross," says Crisp. "Even when they’re factoring in what you can afford, it doesn’t allow for gas, and food, and childcare, and miscellaneous items. So, that’s one of the things we really hit on in the class: make sure you understand that when the lender says you qualify for 150 there are other things that need to be factored in."
Crisp cautions that homeownership is not right for everyone — especially spontaneous spenders. She says mortgage payments should be no more than 33% of gross monthly income. And being able to manage finances with money left over at the end of each month for emergencies, she says, is key.