FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Buying a home can be a life-changing proposition, but Army Community Service Financial Readiness Program officials hope an upcoming seminar can make the process easier for potential homebuyers.

"Buying a home is probably the largest purchase someone will make in their life," Beth Gunter, ACS financial counselor, said. "Having an understanding of the ins and outs of home buying is essential in making a sound decision."

The home buying seminar, free and open to the public, is Sept. 26 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Soldier Service Center, Bldg. 5700, Rm. 282. Pre-registration is required by Sept. 25.

According to Gunter, topics discussed at the seminar include the impact of people's credit scores on the terms of their loans, most importantly on the interest rate; the types of mortgages, providing groundwork to determine which may be the best fit for people's purchase goals; and an overview of the paperwork needed to close and the documents provided by the lender at closing.

"This information is presented with the overall goal of providing a better understanding of the process and commitment made when purchasing a home," she said. "Buying a home should not be the type of purchase made without prior planning.

"Saving for a down payment takes time," she added. "Living on a spending plan that includes the cost of a proposed mortgage for a year can help determine if someone will be house poor after the projected purchase."
Potential homebuyers are not the only people who can benefit from the seminar, according to Gunter. Current homeowners can also pick up helpful tips.

"If a current homeowner is considering selling, information is presented on choosing a selling agent and factors they should consider when pricing their home," she said. "They will also be given guidance for personally selling their home as for sale by owner, if they choose. The seminar is conducted by accredited financial counselors with training in the real estate market, providing insight they may not think to take into consideration."

According to Gunter, the seminar can give homeowners and homebuyers an edge by highlighting potential problem areas during the buying or selling process.

"Common pitfalls the seminar covers are the hidden costs often forgotten about, not researching a real estate agent, neglecting to take into consideration the cost to sell your home when PCSing, or the ups and downs of the market that can impact the resale," she said.

Individuals with specific questions can bring them to the seminar or email them prior the event.

"The tools provided through the ACS financial readiness office help Soldiers and their families make informed decisions on how to make their money work for them rather than having a focus of working for their money, providing a healthy financial wellbeing," Gunter said.

According to Gunter, the seminars are offered quarterly, but additional help is available for individuals and families.

"After the seminar, we find that individual appointments are helpful, as the questions become more specific to the potential home buyer," she said.

For more information, including the email address to send in questions, call 255-2341, 255-3949 or 255-9631.