Homebuyer series at ECSU prepares consumers

Kesha Williams
July 06, 2010


Ask any first-time homebuyer and they will likely say the process of buying a home is complex and time consuming. The Community Development Program at ECSU simplifies that process with a series of free sessions that informs consumers of the major players in the game and the steps consumers need take to prepare for the purchase.

Morris Autry, director of the Community Development Program at Elizabeth City State University, says thousands of consumers can save themselves money, time and frustration by attending the free sessions. They are funded by the U.S. Department of Housing Urban Development.  Consumers learn the roles of the professionals who are major players in the homebuyer process: the lender, realtor, home inspector, the appraiser, closing agent. At a time when the economy is sluggish but the selection of homes in the region is large, Autry says it's prime time for consumers to gather information and plan for the purchase of a new home.

"Last month, we held a series of four first-time home buyer seminars. The attendance was steady, with about 25 families participating.  All of them admitted they learned important lessons at the seminars that could have cost them time and money had they not attended," Autry said. "After attending our sessions, one family realized that a home they admired was not a suitable purchase for them because it would require extensive repairs and an extensive amount of money to cover repair costs."

Autry said the goal of the sessions are to help consumers not only prepare for the purchase of the home but determine how much money the home will cost them in maintenance costs.

"The joy of owning your home and decorating it to suit your lifestyle is immeasurable. So we help consumers look down the road, beyond the purchase price and anticipate what the home will cost consumers in maintenance," Autry said. "Consumers must learn in advance the steps they must take to keep the home after buying it."

George Bright, secretary of Albemarle Area Association of Realtors and a broker for Taylor Mueller Realty, agrees. His presentation at one of the sessions prepares consumers for homeownership. An important step, Bright said, that is essential to buying a home is pre-approval of a loan before viewing the selection of homes on the market. During his presentation, Bright raises the warning flags for prospective homebuyers.

"I gave them three lists that had seven tips:  "Seven things you must do to prepare for home ownership," "Seven myths of homeownership," and the third list, "Seven biggest mistakes made by first-time homebuyers, " Bright said.

"These sessions are valuable for consumers who attend with an open mind. It's easy for consumers to get excited and buy more home than they need or to select features they won't often use. Some features, such as swimming pools, won't excite a large number of buyers should you decide to sell the home in five years," Bright said. "Consumers must also realize expenses start the day you move in, so consider the cost of maintaining a yard or those fancy features that you see in expensive homes. Also consider repair costs that might arise after a hurricane."

Bright says he is happy to earn his living by selling homes but gains the most satisfaction by seeing customers years down the road admit they purchased the right home for their lifestyle and their budget. He is one of several professionals who speak during the Community Development Program's sessions. For more details of upcoming workshops, call 252-335-3702.