Fewer blacks own their home now than any other racial or ethnic group which makes it even more difficult for them to achieve financial security and attain wealth. Two people who grew up a couple blocks from each other on Madison's south side want to change that with a home buyer's education class June 24 at the Boys & Girls Club on Taft Street.
Marcus Neal is a National Mortgage Account Manager for National Bank while Victoria Harris is the Parent Engagement Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. The two grew up a couple blocks from the Boys & Girls Club, which back then was called the South Madison Neighborhood Center. They are coming together as adults to help strengthen their community by teaching them how they can own their own homes.
“The event will be an informal affair. There will be a Q & A on all aspects of the home-buying process — where you start, how do you fix your credit, questions about bankruptcies, etc..... All questions will be answered whether you are a first-time home buyer or if you had a home before and you lost it,” Neal says. “It's also for people who might be a home owner now but want to start investing in real estate. Or for first-time home owners who also want to get into real estate investing by buying a duplex first and renting out the other half.”
The lack of home ownership is more than the difference between a mortgage payment and a rent check. Purchasing property is the key to building wealth, which not only allows people to improve their quality of life and provide more for their children, but also gives people a cushion during tough economic times.
“When you are renting you don't have much invested in it,” Neal says. “You have a whole different attitude when you're going to work and you're coming home to your house and you know its yours. You take pride in it. For many black people its a great way to invest by building equity in your home and saving for your retirement within your home.”
Neal says a lot of people — especially minorities — pay as much for their rent as they would for a mortgage. “And often more,” Neal says. “It's money down the drain. People just have no idea that they, too, can own their own homes.”
It's time to change that all, Neal adds. The Boys & Girls Club class put on by Harris and Neal will help people become homeowners and real estate investors and, in the process, to take charge of their communities.
“Everything white people can do, we can do. The problem is that there is never a person or banks who are willing to work with [minorities],” Neal says. “Normally what happens is that if you go in and apply for a loan but your credit score is not at a certain point, they say, 'I'm sorry, but we can't help you.' And that's it. People get discouraged and they stop their search.”
Neal adds that there is a lot of misinformation about credit and what you need to qualify for a loan. “We basically want to eliminate all of the misinformation and get the correct information out there,” Neal says. “People always think that they have to go some place and pay to get their credit score fixed, for example. They don't know that they can do that themselves. You can do it yourself. It's much easier than you think.”
The foreclosure crisis has hit blacks harder than any other group in America and it has been tough for them to regain their footing in the housing market. Blacks' home ownership rate has plummeted nearly 6 percent to 46.2 percent since its peak in 2004.
“All of these years of a lack of help in buying a home, black people have a defeatist mindset and attitude,” Neal says. “Then you go to buy a house and you get turned down two or three times and you begin to think that it's something that you can't do. Unfortunately, there aren't as many people working with minorities on home buying and that's why these home buyer's classes are so important. We can give you the information that you need and be that resource that the community has been lacking.”
The event at the Boys & Girls Club will also feature complete insurance information from homeowner, renter, and life insurance which will be discussed by Larry Sian of State Farm Insurance. Toni Kirkendoll, financial specialist for Legal Shield, will talk about the hot topics of identity theft protection and legal assistance plans. Neal will cover all of the real estate aspects. Everything is free and the event will be catered by Papa Bears BBQ.
“The goal for the event are to change some mindsets about home buying,” Neal says. “At other events that I've done, I've had people who had no idea that they could buy a house. There were 4 or 5 people whose credit was nowhere near as bad as they thought it was. People think that their credit is so bad that they won't qualify so they won't even look into it. People also think that they need a 20 percent down payment. But you don't need 20 percent. There's so much information out there that people need to know. My goal for the event is to bring all of this information to the people of our community.”
The Homebuyer's Education Class on Monday, June 24, at the Boys & Girls Club on Taft Street. For more information on the event, contact Marcus Neal at maneal.nationalbank.gmail.com