Delaware nonprofit offers financial advice to homeowners, buyers

As the housing market slowly recovers, one Delaware organization is helping home buyers achieve financial independence.

The Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council recognizes that getting houses sold will help the economy. To do their part in boosting economic growth, they recently formed a housing clinic that offers pre-purchase counseling to homeowners and first-time buyers.

With the clinic, DCRAC is able to help Delaware residents, such as Rachel Howell, understand what goes into purchasing a home.

“Sometimes you find you have a certain level of education of how to get a loan or buying a house, but there are some things you are not aware of, like the small print and policies,” Howell said.

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As her previous home went into short sale, the sessions are important to Howell. She and her husband Joseph were ahead on their mortgage until their two-income household was reduced to one income. In addition, they were unable to get a loan modification from their mortgage company, so the couple went quickly from home ownership to renting.

DCRAC employees note that their clients often approach at a time of personal crisis.

“Generally our clients often come very distraught, they get the run around, they get more information that just doesn’t help and they feel worse about their situation,” said Jaclyn Quinn, a resource director at DCRAC.

Quinn said she often beings her pre-purchasing counseling with advice about savings and credit budgeting.

“That’s useful for those looking to buy a home in the future, or even right now,” Quinn observed, 

An ounce of prevention

According to DCRAC officials, the counseling has provided a lifeline for those who wish to keep their homes. In addition, their efforts could have wider impacts.

“Having that pre-purchase education hopefully will prevent the failed housing market situation from happening again in 10 years,” Quinn said.

In August, more than a dozen families signed up for the pre-purchasing counseling at DCRAC, which recently received a $50,000 grant from Bank of America Charitable Foundation to allow the organization to grow.

“The $50,000 grant is huge for us at DCRAC,” Quinn said. “Most of our federal funds require a non-federal match, so [by] using that $50,000, we are able to leverage it and get a lot of federal funding to also assist with our programs.”

In order to get into the program, DCRAC recommends enrollment in a credit-builder session that takes place on the first two Saturdays of September. Then, the next step is to enroll in the pre-purchase program, which is scheduled for Sept. 20.

Meanwhile, Howell plans to share her new-found knowledge with others.

“We don’t want anyone to go through what we went through, so now with this direction where we are heading in now, we feel comfortable we are taking solid steps to getting to the lifestyle we want to be in, and be able to afford it,” she said.

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