Subscribe to the AHCOPA Newsletter

Our newsletter serves as the main channel of outreach to our clients. It includes resources, tools and reminders related to the services we offer. Whether you are a first time home buyer, facing foreclosure, behind on property taxes or need other assistance and tips on maintaining your homeownership, these emails will provide a wealth of useful information. If you would like to subscribe, contact Jamila Blake at Affordable Housing Center of Pennsylvania

Mortgage Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval: What’s the Difference?

In the early stages of your decision making on whether to pursue homeownership, you may hear the terms “pre-qualification” and “pre-approval” mentioned in reference to your pursuit of securing a mortgage. Many people use the terms interchangeably and are later shocked to find out that they represent very different conditions on your progress and potential to purchase a home.

  • Pre-Qualification is the result of an informal review of your finances, leading to an estimate of the mortgage terms you could potentially qualify for.
  • Pre-Approval is a formal and comprehensive review of your finances, leading to a statement from a lender of the specific mortgage loan amount that they are willing to let you borrow.

To learn more about the additional differences between Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval, visit the links below.
Mortgage 101

AHCOPA in the News: Advocating for Protection of the CDBG

Our Executive Director, Ken Bigos, composed an article to advocate for the Community Development Block Grant. The CDBG is an allotment of HUD funds that serve as an investment for the purpose of transforming blight into sustainable living areas. The article summarizes the domino effect that would occur should Pennsylvania’s CDBG funding continue to be decreased and eventually eliminated.
Visit the links below for the full content.

The Express (Lockhaven)

The Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown)

Sources of Down Payment to Purchase a Home

Now that you have set your sights on becoming a homeowner, keep in mind that the upfront costs associated with such a large purchase will likely need to be sourced beyond your current stream of income. It is best to identify a variety of channels to gather the funds you will need early in this journey – particularly, the down payment. Receiving housing counseling services will be a great asset at this stage. AHCOPA counselors can connect you with loan and grant options that you may not be aware of. Visit our website to learn more about our First Time Home Buyer program.  

In the meantime, review the list below for options to source a down payment. 

  • Loans or Grants See what is offered by your city, county, state or a reputable financial institution
  • Seller Assist Allows the seller to pay a portion of your eligible closing costs
  • Your checking or savings account
  • Gifts from friends or family Secure proper documentation and records to track the transfer of funds
  • Individual Development Account A matched savings program you can utilize for home ownership and education
  • Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, 401K, other Retirement or Investment Accounts Carefully weigh any penalties, taxes or other negative consequences 

First things first: Are you actually ready to purchase a home?

Key indicators that ownership is not for you. (At least not right now.)

Many people carefully weigh both the benefits and risks before purchasing a home – as they very well should. However, there are also those who focus only on the perks of buying a home, such as building wealth and equity; tax incentives; freedom to complete renovations on your own terms; passing ownership to your children, etc. Far too often, one may be swept up in the whirlwind of getting pre-approval with a lender, hunting for the perfect listing and competing on bids. Before you start the process, consider this question – are you actually ready to buy a home? Although your nerves may be frayed from the potential annoyances that come with renting, it would be even worse to overlook the challenges that can come with owning a home. Is this the best financial move for you to make right now? These articles are guides to determine whether homeownership may not be right for you. (Just yet.)

7 Warning Signs You’re Not Ready To Buy 

What You Need To Know About Buying A Home This Spring

Predictions for Renters and Home Buyers in 2017

Moving From a Home With 2 Bedrooms to 3 Costs an Extra $450 a Month

April is Fair Housing Month

April was established as National Fair Housing Month to further the awareness of individual rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), the landmark civil rights legislation passed in 1968 that makes it illegal to discriminate in the sale or rental of housing based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, familial status, or disability. The FHA aims to ensure that everyone has access to neighborhoods of opportunity; potential for economic growth and self sufficiency; an environment that allows us to be healthy; and where children can attend quality schools.Tenants, property owners, property managers, lenders, social workers, service providers and other parties who would like to know more about their rights and responsibilities are encouraged to explore the links and resources below. Share your thoughts and experiences on AHCOPA’s Facebook page.

Housing Equality Center of PA

Fair Housing Rights Center in Southeastern PA

HUD ~ Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity

Domain Real Estate Seminar Participation

On Saturday, April 1, 2017,  AHCOPA participated in a First Time Home Buyer Seminar hosted by Domain Real Estate Group. Our own Dionne Cerdan shared information on AHCOPA’s services. Of the estimated 50 attendees, more than 15 people signed up for our First Time Home Buyer Workshops with the intent to explore a variety of grants and resources available in their journey toward home ownership. Thanks very much to Tia Whitaker and the team at Domain, Rosemarie Gasby-Devlin at Freedom Mortgage for having AHCOPA participate in the workshop.

Expensive Habits You Should Break

Efficiently managing your finances goes beyond the obvious rule of creating a budget and following those boundaries. We often forget about the daily behaviors and decisions that influence your credit score, cash on hand, savings, assets, etc. The habits listed below may seem harmless, however they are much more important than you think. Read more to reflect on what “bad habits” you should break and better practices to adopt for an improved financial outlook.

Behaviors to Discard

  • Procrastination: What bills have you placed as a low priority although they are over due? What important repairs have you delayed that should be addressed immediately before causing other damage? Are there simple changes you could make to bank accounts or utilities that would result in savings or a higher/lower balance? Is there a trip you are planning to take but you have not purchased tickets yet?  If you pay bills late there may be a late fee attached to the balance. Waiting until the last minute to address something will wind up costing you more.
  • Indulging in Impulse Purchases: We are human beings and we have cravings. Retailers and other businesses prey on our tendency to make decisions in the heat of the moment. This includes promises of future discounts, but only if you act right now; portraying an expensive item as a long term investment; or claims that you are “smarter” than other consumers if you purchase an item or service during a limited time sale or at the product launch.
  • Failure to Get Organized: Having easy access to bills, receipts, pay stubs and other documentation will ensure that you have a clear view of your overall financial status. You are more likely to remember billing cycles and schedule payments accordingly. Invest the time it takes to get organized with labels, folders and categorization.
  • Yielding to Peer Pressure: Do you have a hard time saying ‘No’? Family and friends can press your buttons until you cave in to attend happy hour or a shopping outing – places where you may make unplanned and sometimes undesired purchases. Unfortunately we cannot avoid ALL shopping activities because that pressure may also occur in routine places, like the grocery or department store. Do not worry about being viewed as anti-social if you are the only one in a crowd who is concerned about saving money.

Strategies to Implement

  • Plan ahead. Compose specific goals and identify the actions they require.
  • Create a realistic, intentional budget. Compare it to your recent spending habits.  
  • Complete tasks and pay bills immediately and prior to a deadline
  • Be mindful of the people you include when you shop, especially those who may influence your purchases (siblings, kids, even spouses)
  • Communicate your intentions and desires with those who are involved on final decisions. This is very important when working with your significant other.
  • Shop around! Check online for comparable products. Become an active consumer. Do not think the first offer is the best one available. Make the salesperson earn your business.

AHCOPA receives grant from the Alston-Beech Foundation

AHCOPA has been awarded a $1,500 grant from The Alston Beech Foundation. The funding will be applied directly to our housing counseling programs. ABF believes that community reinvestment will make the difference between decay and growth. It was created to provide small program grants to local nonprofit organizations that complement revitalization efforts and services to the area or residents throughout the North Central Philadelphia community. We appreciate their recognition of AHCOPA’s endeavors to empower and educate our clients as they pursue and maintain ownership of their home. 

AHCOPA participates at Health Fair hosted by Gateway Health and Black Clergy of Philadelphia

AHCOPA interacted with attendees at the Health and Resource Fair on Saturday, November 19, 2016. A special thank you to Gateway Health, Black Clergy of Philadelphia and our host Zion Baptist Church. The exhibit hall included various organizations offering health services and community resources. More than 15 attendees stopped by our table for notable conversations to learn more about the home buying process and options on foreclosure prevention. We appreciate events such as this that allow us to increase awareness of our services and secure the status of both future and current homeowners.

AHCOPA and Wells Fargo host Home Preservation Workshop

On October 21, 2016, more than 20 homeowners attended a free mortgage assistance event. Representatives from AHCOPA, Wells Fargo and The Urban League of Philadelphia were on hand to counsel homeowners on their payment challenges and explore options on a loan modification through the Home Affordable Modification Program. The event was organized by the three organizations with the goal of helping Wells Fargo mortgage holders avoid foreclosure and reconcile current delinquency.