Homegrown podcast: Meet Christopher Meeks, trainer for the First Time Home Buyer Education program

Step 1 to homeownership: Speak the same language as your mortgage loan officer

I wasn’t married. I had no desire to be a mother. And after 10 moves in three states, I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to permanently live. So the idea of homeownership wasn’t on my radar — even though I was surrounded by African-American homeowners. Of all the people who tried to talk me into homeownership, I’d have never expected it to be who it was. By the time I was fully invested in buying property and could afford to do so, I realized I had a much bigger problem than lack of interest.

Click here to listen to Episode 1 of “Homegrown: An Ode to Sugarbowl Sam”

I took eight years of Spanish from elementary school to adulthood. Although I wouldn’t consider myself fluent, I could speak Spanish better than I could speak English to my English-speaking mortgage loan officer. I knew what none of the terms meant — amortization, closing costs, earnest money, equity, escrow, principle and interest (P&I). Talking to him was so overwhelming that I almost balked on buying. But once my mortgage loan officer suggested Illinois grant money for a few thousand dollars off of my buying price — if I agreed to at least live in my property for a minimum of five years — my interest grew even stronger.

Recommended Read: “5 lessons I learned as a first-time homebuyer

But something had to give. I needed to talk to someone who knew the language and could make this process easier. A casual Google search led me to the Housing Opportunity Development Corporation (HODC) First Time Home Buyer Education program, where I met my first Homegrown: An Ode to Sugarbowl Sam podcast guest: Christopher Meeks. After his three-part, two-hour workshop, even my loan officer admitted he was impressed (and a bit surprised) by our conversations afterward. Not only did I understand the numbers but I could easily read and comprehend the paperwork and emails that the mortgage lender was sending to me, along with the closing agent.

Please check out my interview with this HODC’s Facilities & Housing Specialist for a conversation about first-time homeowners, the housing crisis, why condo association owners should always go to homeowners association (HOA) meetings, what got us both into real estate, tips to make more African-Americans be interested in homeownership and the battle with landlords.

For more information, follow HODC on Facebook. Or, contact Christopher Meeks via email (cmeeks@hodc.org) for further questions.

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