The Operation HOPE Home Buyers Program

Low-wealth individuals and families now have hope for a home. The Operation Hope Home Buyers Program offers a path for those who wouldn’t benefit from standard mortgage loans to own property. The program shows clients various programs to obtain funding without a sub-prime loan and also offers education about the loan process. It also has people, from counselors to realtors, who clients through the process.

There Are Programs to Help

A variety of programs are available to help low to moderately low-income individuals and families get into a home, but gathering information, finding the right program and fulfilling all application requirements can be overwhelming. There are other issues to overcome such as:

• Bad credit
• No money for down payment
• Debt
• Bad money management

Under the Operation Hope Home Buyers Program, clients enter a counseling program that is HUD-approved to resolve these issues and overcome barriers. The program also introduces clients to the various programs available including:

• First-time homebuyers programs
• FHA loans
• Down payment assistance
• Loan options from financial institutions that are FDIC insured

Where To Start

Visiting a Hope Inside facility is the best first step. These offices are located in 38 major and smaller cities, from Atlanta to Detroit, in places like grocery stores, city offices and banks with the hope of more opening. Hope Inside is a program offering credit and money management information, as well as counseling for home ownership and small business entrepreneurship. All services are free.

The Home Buying Process

Buying a home starts with education. Clients participating in the Operation Hope Home Buyers Program take a home buyers workshop, which gives an overview of the entire process from application to closing. After the educational program is completed, certified counselors are assigned to clients to walk them through the loan packaging process.

Operation Hope Home is a place where basic questions are answered. Some of the common questions are:

• How much should I spend?
• How do I find a good mortgage deal?
• What are the different types of mortgages?

The first question is probably the most important because spending more than can be afforded leaves the homeowner cash-strapped without money for vacations, children’s college tuition or retirement. The first step to figure this out is to calculate rent, including inflationary rises, over several years such as a decade. Compare that with a home mortgage over the same time. Be sure to include costs of owning a home, like insurance, lawn maintenance and home repairs. Be sure to also calculate home equity into your comparison. This will tell you if it makes sense for you to buy.

Calculating how much someone can afford takes in pay, debt, general expenses and calculations. Typically, bankers don’t want debt – including your mortgage – to equate more than 30 percent of income. The lower the ratio, the better chances there are at getting a loan. This makes it favorable to pay off debt to lower your debt-to-income ratio.

Operation Hope counselors walk clients through various mortgage programs and guide them on the right questions to ask to find the right deal.

What To Expect

Participating on the Operation Hope Home Buyers Program doesn’t offer a quick fix to low-wealth housing problems. It offers a way to achieve a goal of home ownership and responsibly plan for a long-term, financially-sound future. It will take some work, effort, patience and diligence to follow counselors’ recommendations to increase personal wealth. However, those who actively work toward their goals have permanently improved their lives and own homes.

Who Operates This Program?

Operation Hope Home is one of the programs out of Operation Hope, created in 1992 to provide access to wealth to the underserved, struggling middle class and working poor. The organization also has programs to achieve entrepreneurship and financial literacy among youth. More than 2.5 million people have been helped by the organization and low-wealth communities have received more than $1.8 billion in private capital. While 38 offices are listed, the organization has volunteers in more than 300 cities in both America and foreign countries.

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