Florida International University

The Liberty City Trust’s First-time Home Buyers workshop treated those in attendance to eight hours of information on everything from loan qualification to closing.
The workshop was held Saturday, April 24, at Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church.  Upon its completion, the 34 aspiring homebuyers in attendance received a certificate from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The certificate, a requirement to receive many of the grant assistance being offered for first-time home buyers, expires within a year and forces those looking to buy, like Sheridan Brantley, to make tough decisions.

“I want to make sure everything is in order by then,” she said. “My finances are crazy right now.”

 Brantley, a 21-year-old mother of one, quickly realized the process of buying her first home entails more than she expected.

“It’s a lot of responsibilities for a house,” she said. “I never thought it was so much.”

Among the things she learned that most concern her now is the inspection process and the ever-present threat of predatory lending.

Chester Bishop, chief operating officer for Housing Foundation of America, talked about the things that potential buyers should remember.

“The most important thing is to live where you want to live,” he said.

He reiterated the old real estate adage—location, location, location—because he notices that often people overlook where they want to live and instead opt for whichever purchase comes with the most assistance.

Yet Miami-Dade County may be the place which offers the most money. That’s because unlike Broward County, Miami-Dade participates in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). The NSP offers grants for the purchase of foreclosed and abandoned houses, many of which are in Liberty City.

For Andrea West, a Broward resident looking to move to Miami-Dade, choosing between houses that are affordable and those that are in a location she wants to live in has been tricky.  

Perhaps the decision will be made after the one year period when her HUD certificate has expired. Rachel Walker, Housing Specialist for the Trust, understands.

“Everyone is not ready to buy today,” she said.

The eight-hour course was just an overview into the journey.

James Bunyan, a broker for Millenium III Realty who spoke at the workshop, summarized the road to buying a first home.   

“Homeownership is a process, not a destination.”