Preparing To Buy A Home

A little planning can make the process smoother

When Kimberly Davis-Howard bought her first home as a rental property in Las Vegas, she was in graduate school and working full time as an MIS specialist at Macy’s department store in New York. She has vivid memories about her first home buying process. “I felt like I was giving information about my whole life,” Davis-Howard says. “I was in my 20s then, so I didn’t have much credit, but I had good credit.”

Davis-Howard remembers that the documentation required presented a challenge. “I didn’t know what to expect when I bought the first property. They told me I needed six months of bank statements, and I remember I didn’t save that many records back then. I lived in Manhattan, so I didn’t have a lot of space.” Ultimately, Davis-Howard, who was making around $34,000 at the time, submitted the proper documentation, put 5% down, and successfully purchased a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo for $75,000. She says she sacrificed to save up the down payment for the Las Vegas property because, “I knew I was working toward self-employment so I wanted to have a more diverse portfolio with diverse investments and multiple streams of income.”

Davis-Howard, now 38, makes about $100,000 a year as a technology training consultant. She married husband Bruce, a 36-year-old time-share sales agent and licensed general contractor, in September 2005. Davis-Howard bought the home she and her husband live in and has another rental property in Manhattan. They both had homes prior to getting married; Bruce rents out his home in Texas.

In an effort to simplify and explain the home buying process, BLACK ENTERPRISE has compiled a five-part series designed to walk readers through the steps. In this installment, we’ll focus on the paperwork you’ll need to qualify for homeownership. If you are looking to purchase a home for the long term, it is paramount that you get your finances in order before you begin looking for a loan. Preparing for homeownership means understanding all of the financial responsibilities that come with owning a home and making sure you’re up to the challenge.

When your credit isn’t stellar, the home buying process can be daunting. When Frances Pratt decided to buy a home after landing a federal job with a $25,000 salary in 2001, she was determined to reach her goal. “I had been living in subsidized housing at the time, and when I got my job, I prayed, ‘God, if I can keep this job for one year, I’m going to get myself a house!’” But a year later, “I went to a mortgage broker and real estate broker and I realized that nobody was taking me seriously because I’d been employed for such a short period of time.”

The 39-year-old single mother of one asked everyone she knew in Chicago how she could change her situation. Her luck changed after a chance meeting with a stranger on a city bus. The stranger, who happened to be a loan officer at Pullman Regency Bank, overheard Pratt chatting about her

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