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The Important Steps To Owning A Home & Building Wealth

Homeownership is a key path to building wealth, especially for African-Americans. Learn essential steps from financial preparation to closing on your home, provided by the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB).
#Homeownership #BlackWealth #NAREB #FinancialHealth #RealEstate #Mortgage #CreditScore #BuildingEquity

By Sheryl Merritt

The most effective way for African-Americans to build wealth is through homeownership. But so many families ask, where do you start when you want to buy a home?

The National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) broadly provides this information so more Black families can enjoy the benefits of homeownership and create intergenerational wealth. The journey of becoming a homeowner, especially for the first time, can be both exhilarating and daunting. It’s crucial to approach this process with a well-structured plan. Here are a few essential steps every first-time homebuyer should consider:

Step 1:

• Prepare for Buying Home: Before looking at potential homes, it’s essential to have a clear picture of your financial health. This includes reviewing your credit score, understanding your income, and identifying your budget for buying a home.

• Here are some tips:

– A good credit score for purchasing a home typically falls within the range of 620 to 850. Scores above 720 are considered excellent and may enable borrowers to access the best interest rates and loan terms. However, individuals with scores at the lower end of this spectrum can still qualify for a mortgage, though they might face higher interest rates. It’s important to note that while your credit score is a crucial factor, lenders will also consider other aspects of your financial situation, including your debt-to-income ratio, employment history, and the size of your down payment.

– Improving your credit score will help you secure a mortgage and potentially save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your loan. To maintain or improve your credit score, make sure to pay all bills on time, keep credit card balances low, and avoid unnecessarily opening new lines of credit. It’s also important to regularly check your credit report for errors and dispute any inaccuracies that could negatively impact your score.

– Ultimately, having a good credit score can open up opportunities for homeownership and save you money in the long run. So, whether you’re currently in the market for a home or just planning for the future, taking steps to improve your credit score is a smart financial move.


Remember, your credit score is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting approved for a mortgage. Still, it’s an important one that can significantly impact your borrowing power and the overall cost of homeownership.

Step 2:

• Hire a Real Estate Professional: A knowledgeable real estate agent, such as a Realtist from the NAREB, can offer invaluable assistance in navigating the home-buying process. They can help you find homes that match your criteria, advise on the offer process, and negotiate with sellers.

• Securing A Mortgage Pre-Approval: A pre-approval from a lender gives you the advantage of knowing exactly how much you can afford.

– Lenders will require certain documents to verify your financial information, such as pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements. Research lenders: Shop around and compare different lenders to find one that offers competitive rates and terms that suit your needs.

Step 3:

Fill out an application with your chosen lender and provide all necessary documents to begin pre-approval.

– The lender will review your application and documents and determine if you qualify for a mortgage pre-approval.

– If approved, the lender will provide a pre-approval letter stating the amount you can borrow.

– Keep in mind that a pre-approval is not a mortgage guarantee, but it puts you in a stronger position when making offers on homes.


Remember, the pre-approval is typically valid for a certain period, usually 60 to 90 days, so it’s important to start your home search soon after receiving it. Finally, maintain your financial stability during this period by avoiding new debt.

Step 4:

Determine Your Preferences and Needs: Find the right neighborhood, quality of local schools, distance from your job, availability of public transportation, recreational activities, shopping, and places of worship.

• Shop for your new Home: Seeing a variety of homes in person gives a better understanding of what is available in your price range and what features you value most.

• Make an Offer on a Home: Once you’ve found a home that meets your needs and fits within your budget, your agent will assist you in making a competitive offer based on current market conditions.

Step 5:

• Apply for Your Mortgage: Explore all the loan options. It’s essential to understand the different types of mortgage loans available to you. These may include fixed-rate mortgages, adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), FHA loans, VA loans, and others. Even with your pre-approval, you’ll need to provide additional documentation, including:

– Proof of income

– Two years of W-2s and/or tax returns.

– Source of funds, with one to two months of complete bank statements.


– Documentation of any large deposits, gifts, and liquidation of any assets.

Step 6:

• Schedule a Home Inspection and Appraisal: The lender will likely arrange the inspection, appraisal, and a final walk-through inspection.

• Close on Your Home: If all goes well with the inspection, appraisal, and final mortgage approval, you’ll close on your home. Obtain a cashier’s check for the amount due. Call the utility companies. Welcome Home!!!

Step 7:

• Maintain Your Mortgage: After closing, remember to budget for monthly mortgage payments, property taxes, homeowners’ insurance, and any homeowner association (HOA) fees. Staying on top of these expenses is crucial to maintaining your home and building equity over time.

This NAREB Building Black Wealth Blog was written by Sheryl Merritt, MBA, CEO/Broker, New Legacy Realty.

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