Boost your chances of owning a home

BY TAMEKA GORDON Assistant business co-ordinator

Sunday, January 06, 2013

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THE growing need for affordable housing solutions has spurred many developments islandwide, but without proper financial planning, homeownership will remain out of reach for many persons.

That's the warning from Jamaican lending institutions in the face of forecasts for even tougher financial times.

With the increased numbers of qualified buyers, bolstering your chances of homeownership simply comes down to wise financial decisions.

"Buying a home is not like buying a loaf of bread, financial planning is key," says Victoria Mutual Building Society's Leighton Smith.

The regional business development manager reckons that failure to plan for this major milestone creates an uphill task.

He suggested three ways to get to your dream.

"Though you may intend to buy a house, acquiring a plot of land first and allowing your equity to build for some time may not be a bad idea," he said.

This equity could then be used to bolster your chances of qualifying for a loan, Smith advised, by providing the deposit for your first home.

It may also demonstrate a better financial standing when consulting lenders.

Making use of your National Housing Trust (NHT) benefits is another avenue Smith suggested to get to your goal.

"The joint benefits programme by the NHT is worth considering for those who do not have that ready capital to buy," he said.

Currently, each contributor to the NHT may receive a loan of up to $4.5 million if this can be supported by the contributor's salary.

"When persons apply jointly to the Trust, they are essentially combining the individual benefits for which they are eligible, to increase the amount available to buy or improve a single property," the NHT said.

Joint applicants may therefore access up to $3 million (up to $1.5 million each) to buy land on the open market.

Alternatively, joint applicants may access up to $9 million (up to $4.5 million each) to buy, build or repair a house.

There are also development companies such as Gore that are seeking to place more homes into the hands of a growing market.

Gore claims to have the most affordable homes in St Catherine and Trelawny, next to the NHT.

The company said, its price points makes "the middle income sector appreciate that Gore builds affordable starter homes".

Similarly to how you research that new cellphone that has hit the market, realtors suggest market research may secure favourable deals.

"Negotiating with lenders is a real option these days," Remax associate, Anya Levy said.

"Banks are aggressively lending now, and it is an all-out buyers' market," she added.

Looking at some non-traditional or older locations can also yield some unexpected deals, Levy said.

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