Sunday, June 27, 2010

Home Ownership and Your Community

Owning a home is one of the largest investments that most Americans make throughout their lives. Owning your home means providing a secure and comfortable space for your family to flourish as well as investment in a financial tool that can help you build equity, move up through social classes, and prepare for retirement. Buying a home, however, is more than just a long term investment in your family's security; it is also an investment in your community.

When you own your home, you become more than just a resident in a neighborhood, but a contributor to the well being of your community. By owning a home, your property taxes go directly towards funding the schools, libraries, and other services provided by the county to your community. The care that you put toward maintaining your home's exterior helps the community prevent blight. Your vigilance while participating in a local Neighborhood Watch program can keep your community free of crime. All of these contributions to your community not only help maintain a safe and desirable living atmosphere, but over time helps increase the overall property value of homes in your community.

An increase in property values helps you and other members of your community thrive financially. When property values increase, residents in the community begin to build more equity in their homes. This growth of equity provides community members with money to invest in businesses in the community, which in turn continues to increase property values. Most important, as you continue to build equity in your home, you begin to build a nest egg that you can use to send your children to college or retire with. As with any investment, owning your home requires diligent financial planning, and the help and advice of a professional who cares for both your interests and the interest of your community.

As a first step to buying your home, you should reach out to the local non-profit housing organizations in your area. These organizations are usually vested in the community where they operate and have a high focus on helping you with financial planning and education. Often, these organizations can help you get a home mortgage, provide down payment assistance programs, and offer real estate services at a fraction of the cost of working directly with a bank or mortgage broker. One of the organizations local to Silicon Valley that provides such services is Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley, NHSSV.

NHSSV is unique because of its focus on financial planning. NHSSV's counselors make sure that you thoroughly understand the finances associated with owning a home. These finances include monthly PITI (Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance) payments, your monthly budget of lifestyle expenses, and the expenses associated with maintaining your home. Realtors or lenders who do not provide this level of financial education can put you in peril of buying a home that you may not be able to fully afford resulting in a foreclosure. Unfortunately, nothing hurts a community more than a high rate of foreclosures because of the reduction of property values and the general sense of despair that foreclosures bring.

As you prepare to purchase your home, make sure to keep in mind that it is more than just your own security and well being that you are investing in, but the security and well being of an entire community. As a stakeholder in your community, you should work with local housing organizations that can help you make a responsible home purchase decision that will benefit your financial well being as well as the financial well being of your community.

1 comment:

  1. It's so important to buy a home in a good community! That way you will have the safety and security that your family deserves but also, you feel that you can contribute to the highest capacity. If you live in St. Louis and are looking for a home, I recommend Payne Family Homes! They have the best communities to live in! Great post!