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Building Wealth Through Homeownership: Benefits & Strategies for First-Time Buyers

Personal Banking
First-time homebuyer couple hugging in their new home.

June is National Homeownership Month, a time where we celebrate the value of owning your own home. While in today’s real estate market buyers face challenges of low inventory, increasing home prices and high demand, purchasing a home is still one of the strongest financial investments you can make. We spoke with three Realtors in the areas we serve to share their insights for first-time homebuyers hoping to achieve the American dream.

For some first-time buyers, even starting the process can be intimidating. Leslie Moss, Realtor with the Wilcox Real Estate Group, says, “A lot of people think they don’t have the money and don’t pursue even trying to buy a home. However, what you think you need and what you actually need could be very different. It is never too soon to have a conversation with a lender to get an understanding of your purchasing power.”

Denise Franklin, Realtist/Realtor with Blackstream Christie’s International Real Estate and President of the Greenville NAREB Chapter, explains, “It is important for buyers to get a feel of where their credit score is, to review their debt-to-income ratio in advance, and to search out the possibilities.” Moss adds, “A lender can help you with strategies to overcome any issues with your debt-to-income ratio and advise you on how to pay off debt, save, or tap into other investments to get that down payment and get started.”

For Gerardo Obando, Co-Founder of COGU Realty and President of the North Carolina Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, providing the right education helps break down barriers for people in his community. Originally from Guatemala, Obando came to the United States in 2009 and quickly developed a passion for helping others like him understand credit and pathways to homeownership. Obando explains, “For our clients, there are often language barriers or sometimes they are working two or three jobs so they don’t have the time to learn about all the tools they can use to become homeowners. We try to provide them with those channels. There are so many programs that first-time buyers can apply for that they don’t know about. The Southern First Dream Mortgage program with up to 100% financing and no down payment* is awesome. That really helps and can take the worry of saving for a down payment away.”

With the right guidance from an experienced mortgage lender and real estate agent, you can find your dream home, and once you do, there are many advantages. Franklin says, “It gives you something to call your own, and it creates some certainty, making it easier to gauge your household expenses. If you are renting in this market, when it is time to renew your lease, that rental payment may increase $100 or more per month. As a homeowner, we know at least the principal and interest payment is going to remain the same as long as you have that mortgage.”

For families with small children, it creates stability, giving children an opportunity to create lifelong friendships. Obando adds, “When families look for homes, they sometimes just look at schools, but it’s not only that. There are several studies that show a child’s character is different when they have a permanent home, compared to a child that goes from rental to rental. They grow with better stability so there’s even an emotional factor to it.”

When it comes to your finances, there’s no better way to build wealth than buying a home. “In this market, we are seeing equity like no other market before, and I think something that maybe our grandparents knew but isn’t top of mind today is that homeownership is typically where people build generational wealth. If you want to start your own business, you can tap into the equity in your home. If you have kids that are seeking higher education, you can use, in some cases, the equity in your home,” shares Franklin.

Moss adds, “Yes, it is your home, but it is an investment. If you always think about it in those terms, you always buy a property for the next person in line, whether that’s a renter or the next owner. If you have that strategy and mindset going in, I feel that you make very few mistakes when it comes to resale. It is really a stepping stone to compounding your wealth.”

“We strive to have our buyers see the house as not just a purchase, but as an investment. When you’re renting, you’re not getting any return on that. When you buy a house in this market, you build equity. We teach buyers how they can use their equity to purchase a second home,” says Obando.

For Moss, buying that first home can open the door to many opportunities. She explains, “Once you have that first home or property, you can leverage that equity for your next purchase. You can pull equity out of that home to either buy a larger home or buy another home to rent. You can start thinking about passive income from a vacation home or an Airbnb. As a single person, you can take on a roommate for a few years. If you use those strategies, you pay off your home a lot faster.”

We are proud to enable dreams through homeownership and would be honored to help you get started on that path. Get in touch with our mortgage team today to learn more about our Dream Mortgage* and other programs that could help you become a homeowner.


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*Loan originations are subject to underwriting and credit approval. Other terms, conditions, and certain fees may apply.