With support from a Housing Opportunity Grant, the West Georgia Board of REALTORS® partnered with a local HUD-certified housing counseling agency to offer a ‘Pathways to Homeownership’ course for first-time buyers. Addressing essential aspects of the home-buying process – including obstacles to homeownership – the program was so well received that the REALTORS® are making it an annual event.
The 430-member West Georgia Board of REALTORS® is an energetic voice for real estate in the region west of Atlanta. So, while it was natural for its Diversity and Equal Opportunity Committee to plan a ‘Pathways to Homeownership’ course for aspiring buyers last August, it could never have anticipated the demand: they were able to offer the same course the following April, both reaching capacity attendance. The information-packed events were presented in partnership with a local HUD-approved housing counseling agency and supported by a Housing Opportunity Grant from the REALTOR® Party.
Blair McClure, CEO of the West Georgia Board, credits Committee Chair and 2020 President Cheri Davis with the inspiration for the course, and for seeing it through – twice! She was helped by a strong team of dedicated committee members.
Nearly fifty would-be homebuyers attended the initial program, which was promoted through the local newspaper, the local magazine, and the chamber of commerce, as well as with paid Facebook advertising, which McClure notes is easy and inexpensive. The grant from the REALTOR® Party, plus a ten-percent stake from the West Georgia Board, covered marketing, event space in the town conference center, boxed lunches, and handouts in a specially branded folder.
“It was a great turnout, and the attendees were engaged, asked questions, took notes, and genuinely wanted to become homebuyers – they just didn’t know where to start,” says McClure. “For many, this might have been their first opportunity to learn about credit and why it’s important, about renting vs. owning, how wealth is built through homeownership, and the value of working with a REALTOR®,” she notes. The two-and-a-half-hour program gave them a nuts-and-bolts overview and allowed plenty of time to meet the presenters and get more in-depth answers. The first speaker, from NID Housing Counseling, addressed homeownership challenges and how to overcome them. He was followed by a panel of three local lenders who discussed basic homebuyer preparation, including loan programs, the pre-qualification process, and the documents needed to apply for a mortgage. A follow-up questionnaire revealed high enthusiasm from the participants, who indicated that the course was very helpful and set them firmly on the path toward homeownership.
The response encouraged the board to make it an annual event. When they decided to offer it again just eight months later, for Fair Housing Month, registration went to a waitlist – again. And, again, the audience was engaged, motivated, and seeing first-hand the REALTORS®’ dedication to helping their neighbors achieve homeownership.
The West Georgia Board is very grateful for the help it gets from the REALTOR® Party, says McClure: “We’re just a little association, and it takes every bit of our budget to make our operations work. The REALTOR® Party grant program makes it possible for us to go the extra mile to help our community, and it’s so easy to take advantage of these more modest grant opportunities: you fill out the form and submit the receipts. The question is, why wouldn’t we?!”
To learn more about how the West Georgia Board of REALTORS® is promoting homeownership in its community, contact CEO Blair McClure at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770.949.9966.