Housing
HOMEOWNERSHIP

Safe habitable and affordable housing is a basic need. The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle’s Housing department provides programs and resources for individuals and families seeking knowledge, understanding and access to pertinent homeownership education. Our goal – is to ensure that each and every community member has safe, sanitary, and permanent housing, no matter their economic standing.

 

Services
Join our next Homebuyer Education Seminar!

Are you tired of renting? There is money available for Down Payment Assistance on your next home! The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle has partnered with HUD and Equal Housing Opportunity to provide Homebuyer Education seminars in an effort to assist those on the journey to homeownership.

The WA state Housing Finance Commission requires that all homeownership loan applicants – regardless of the type of loan – complete a five-hour Housing Education Seminar in order to begin the loan process. The ULMS Homebuyer Education Seminar fulfills this requirement.

Participants can expect to be provided with the following information:

  • Learn about your options as a homebuyer, including low interest rate loans and grant programs designed for low to moderate income borrowers.
  • Find out about the WA state Housing Finance Commission’s House Key program – designed to help first time home buyers secure a loan for purchase.
  • Get informed on the latest HUD programs.
  • Learn about current programs for move-up buyers (you may not have to sell your property to qualify!)
  • Find out about low and no down payment mortgage options.
  • Learn about assistance programs like House Key Plus, House Key Extra, and Home Choice.
  • Learn how to take the actions necessary to improve your chances of mortgage loan approval.

Homebuyer Seminars are held once a month on the 3rd Saturday of the month unless otherwise noted.

Here’s a list of upcoming Homebuyer Seminars:

  • 8/17: 10:00AM – 3:30PM
  • 9/21: 10:00AM – 3:30PM
  • 10/19: 10:00AM – 3:30PM
  • 11/16: 10:00AM – 3:30PM

Each Homebuyer seminar is held at the Urban League of Metropolitan’s main office building located at:

105 14th Avenue, Suite 200

Seattle, WA 98122

Seating is limited! Individuals with an interest in participating in a Homebuyer seminar will need to register to ensure seating availability.

To register, please call 206.461.3792.

at a glance
Homeownership 101

What’s the point of owning a home? Whether you’ve given serious thought to becoming a homeowner or just want a better idea on what it means to be one, this section will provide you with all the basic information you need to help you make the right decisions when it comes to purchasing a home.

Purchasing a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you can make in your lifetime. More than that, owning a home is an investment into your future.

While there are many aspects of homeownership that make it appealing and beneficial to the owner, here are our top three reasons why you should consider purchasing a home:

  1. First, owning a home has long since been a part of the American dream. There is incredible value in being able to have a place for you and your family to call your own that doesn’t involve living in close proximity to others or following the often strict rules and stipulations that come with renting.
  2. Second, homeownership is an economy booster. Most homebuyers purchase more than one home or invest in home improvements once an initial piece of property is purchased. It’s estimated that after 7-to-10 years, most homeowners typically sell their first home home to upgrade or downsize. No matter the choice, the end result leads to economic growth and job creation. With each home sale, there are expenses related to outdoor maintenance, home remodeling, furnishing, moving, and more. Because of this, portions of these expenses get sourced from and poured back into the local community. 
  3. Third, homeownership provides financial benefits such as equity, an improved credit rating, financial security, and stability.

Homeownership is a process and should only begin when you’re ready. Like with any major financial decision, it’s beneficial for you to weigh out the most pertinent pros and cons before you decide you want to purchase a home.

Here are a few we’ve gathered for your consideration:

Pros

  • Greater privacy and personal freedom
  • Homes typically increase in value over time, build equity, and are a great way to establish generational wealth
  • Homeownership costs are predictable and less sporadic then renting because they’re ideally based on a fixed-rate mortgage
  • Homeownership provides special tax deductions unavailable to those who rent
  • Once your home is paid off, you will no longer need to make monthly mortgage payments, as opposed to renting — which will always incur a monthly payment.

Cons

  • Homeownership is a long-term commitment which means it would be difficult to pick up and move — as opposed to renting options that allow flexible or short-term leasing
  • You are responsible for your home maintenance (plumbing, electrical issues, yard maintenance, etc.)
  • While mortgage payments are generally fixed, they are typically higher than rent payments. In addition, moving expenses, down payments, and closing costs are also significantly higher.

Part of what can make homeownership overwhelming is the language used during the process. We’ve pulled together some of the most common homeownership definitions to help you get a better understanding of exactly what’s going on:

  1. Default: When you do not pay your mortgage on the agreed upon terms, you have defaulted on your loan. Officially, default happens 30 days after payment is due. If you default on your loan, the lender has the right to start foreclosure proceedings.
  2. Down Payment: A down payment is a portion of the sales price you pay to the seller to close a sale, with the understanding that the balance will be paid at settlement. 
  3. Equity: Equity is the difference between how much your property is worth and how much you still owe on your mortgage (Market value – Mortgage balance = Equity). Equity is also sometimes called owner’s interest.
  4. Foreclosure: A foreclosure is a legal proceeding that allows your lender to sell your house to pay off your unpaid mortgage. Your house can be foreclosed on if you don’t make your required house payments.
  5. Interest: 1) Interest is the cost of money. It is usually stated as an annual percentage (e.g. 7.5 %). You either pay interest when you borrow money, or are paid interest when you save and invest money. 2) Interest is a right, share, or title in property.
  6. Lender: A lender is a financial institution or agency that loans you money.​
  7. Mediation: a negotiation to try to settle a dispute with the help of a neutral party. It gives both the buyer and seller (or lender) a chance to tell their side of the story to someone who has no stake in the outcome of the situation. The mediator will then try to help you reach a compromise.
  8. Mortgage: Your mortgage is a legal document that promises real property (i.e your home) to the lender as security for the repayment of a debt.

The first time you do anything, you are bound to make mistakes — purchasing a home is no different. The best way to avoid making mistakes as you search for your first home is to improve your knowledge about potential obstacles before they happen. Here’s a brief list of 5 common mistakes first-time homebuyers should avoid:

  1. Forgetting to budget for closing costs: While most homebuyers know they’ll need to save for a down payment, you’ll also need to budget for the money required to close your mortgage, which can easily add between 2% and 5% of your loan amount to your purchasing costs. You can always reduce closing costs by asking the seller to pay for a portion of them or negotiating your real estate agent’s commission. In some cases you can even use the assistance of housing programs or loans to cover these costs.
  2. Buying for the short-term instead of the long-term: It’s easy to fall in love with properties that meet your current needs. However, if you plan to start or expand your family, you may want to consider buying a larger home now that you can grow into, later. Consider your future needs and wants and whether the home you want to purchase will address them.
  3. Deciding not to negotiate: There are several chances to negotiate during the home purchasing process. Don’t pass up on these opportunities because this is where you can save money! Are there any major repairs you can get the seller to cover, either by fully handling them or by giving you a credit adjustment at closing? Is the seller willing to pay for any of the closing costs? There’s always something that can be done so don’t be afraid to ask questions!
  4. Being hands-off during the inspection process: Once a lender accepts your purchasing offer, you’ll need to arrange a home inspection to examine the property’s condition inside and out, but the results will only tell you so much. Be sure to consider the following when getting a home inspection: make sure mold and pests are included; be present during the inspection; don’t be afraid to ask questions; and make sure the inspector can access every part of the home (roof, crawl spaces, basement, attic etc.)
  5. Getting poor homeowners insurance: Before you close on your new home, your lender will require you to secure adequate homeowners insurance. Shop around and compare rates before choosing. Look closely at what all you’ll be covered for. Keep in mind that going with a less-expensive policy usually means fewer protections and more out-of-pocket expenses if something were to happen. Also, some damages caused by natural disasters (i.e tornados, floods, hurricanes, etc.) aren’t typically covered by normal homeowners insurance, so if your new home is in a disaster-prone area, you may need to buy insurance to cover those instances.