HomeOwnership Center celebrating 15 years

HomeOwnership Center is currently celebrating the 15-year anniversary of its incorporation and is recognizing June as National Home Ownership Month.

The HomeOwnership Center Inc., located at 1404 N. Randolph Ave. in Elkins, strives to help simplify the American dream – to help make the complicated mortgage process easier by being prepared.

“Mortgage delinquency and foreclosure continue to be a problem here in Elkins and north-central West Virginia, as well as throughout the country,” said John Elza, HomeOwnership Center’s executive director. “This new research tells us what works to help families with their housing issues ahead of time; reducing family stress, financial difficulties and costs that may be incurred by neighbors and cities.”

In Elkins, the HomeOwnership Center offers monthly classes that help prepare potential homebuyers for the process. Participants learn about insurance, escrow, inspections and all that goes along with being a home owner. The classes are required by some home lenders, and are a good way for those considering buying a home to make well-informed choices.

This month, individuals from Elkins, Huttonsville, Buckhannon and Philippi gathered to learn more about the process.

James Boner of Elkins said he took the class because he wanted knowledge about the process.

“I want to buy a home to call my own,” Boner said. “Right now I have been approved for a home and I am learning to shop for a home within my budget.”

Elkins resident Mark Hartley is also in the process of shopping for a house.

“I am anxious to own my own home,” Hartley said. “I hope to learn more about how debt works and how to get a house I can afford.”

Hollie Collins said she wants a home for her family.

“I want to gain knowledge from these classes, and want to be successful in my search for that home,” Collins said. “I want to show my children that you can overcome obstacles and better yourself.”

Collins, who lives in Elkins, said the classes are very beneficial.

HomeOwnership Center Inc. announced the results of new research on the effectiveness of NeighborWorks pre-purchase housing counseling and education that shows homebuyers who received support were one-third less likely to fall behind on their mortgages 90 days or more, two years after taking out the loan, compared to homebuyers who didn’t receive similar counseling and education.

The research was done for NeighborWorks America, a national nonprofit affiliated with HomeOwnership Center Inc., by Neil Mayer and Associates and Experian, and is based on approximately 75,000 mortgage loans originated in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

The findings of the research have important implications for HomeOwnership Center and the entire housing counseling and education industry.

“While we have long known from customer feedback that pre-purchase housing counseling and education provided by the certified professionals at HomeOwnership Center is effective at helping to create homeowners who are less likely to default, this research actually supports it,” said Elza.

The research could also become an important tool for lenders in the Elkins and surrounding north-central West Virginia area. Because homebuyers who receive NeighborWorks pre-purchase housing counseling and education are less likely to be three months or more late on their mortgage, the likelihood of foreclosure or other default related costs are reduced, helping a lender’s or servicer’s bottom line.

“Supporting pre-purchase housing counseling by certified staff affiliated with NeighborWorks organizations like ours is a win-win for the homebuyer and the mortgage industry,” said Elza.

The NeighborWorks America research shows how a small investment up front that finances the availability of pre-purchase housing counseling and education can help homeowners avoid financial losses by potentially reducing serious delinquency that has a good chance of extending into foreclosure, help prevent disruption of family life, and help keep communities stable that might be hurt by home foreclosures.

The HomeOwnership Center office is located at 1404 N. Randolph Ave. in Elkins, and is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Information is available at www.hocwv.org, by calling 304-636-6495, extension 17 or 27, or emailing Tawnya Holbrook at tholbrook@hocwv.org or Becky Weese at bweese@hocwv.org.

The HomeOwnership Center web site is www.hocwv.org.