FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 6, 2011) -- Army Community Services offers assistance to Soldiers, retirees Family members and federal employees at the quarterly home buying and selling workshop Oct. 15 from 9-11:30 a.m. at The Commons, Bldg. 8950.

The workshop helps to reduce the stress of buying and selling a home by giving Families strategies that make the process easier, said Beth Gunter, ACS certified housing counselor.

"It is a big issue for Soldiers and their Families who are thinking about purchasing a home. They need to think deeply and have all the right tools to make that decision. A home is the largest purchase you're probably going to make, and to have that knowledge base is really important," she said.

According to Gunter, the workshop can help anyone from first-time home buyers and sellers to those who might be returning to the housing market after owning a home for many years. Many stationed at Fort Rucker must consider their length of duty before making the decision to buy a home.

"The majority of Soldiers are not going to stay at this installation, so we want to keep them from having additional stressors when leaving. It is a big investment and often it takes about five years just to break even," she said.

The workshop starts by explaining the many documents, such as mortgages and good faith estimates, that home buyers and sellers face. Gunter also covers the various aspects of financing and property insurance.

"For a first time home buyer to see all the paperwork can be overwhelming. [The workshop] makes sure they know the right questions to ask their realtors, mortgage brokers and banks so that they're better prepared when they sit down at the closing table," said Gunter.

After breaking down the paperwork, the workshop deals with the many situations a homebuyer or seller can face while navigating the market, by providing tools such as worksheets and strategies for comparing types of homes. Gunter said the workshop also addresses difficult issues such as foreclosures and short sales by providing the pros and cons.

"There's not a right or wrong answer. It all depends on the person making the decision, and we want them to have all the information," she said.

Gunter also offered a few tips for those who might already be in the process of buying or selling a home.

"Do your homework, know your credit score and don't make an impulsive buy," she said.

Attending the workshop can also connect home buyers and sellers with other ACS programs that can make the process easier, such as the Financial Readiness Program.

"Financial counselors can give them guidance on how to improve their credit score. A difference of 50 points on your credit score can make a big difference in interest rates," Gunter said.

People who seek financial readiness assistance can set up a spending plan that will help make purchasing a home possible.

"Having an established spending plan for buying and maintaining the home helps you make sure you can afford a house," said Gunter.

She hopes attending the workshop can give confidence to those who are buying or selling homes, whether through a realtor or on their own.

"This class can really make the home buying experience enjoyable. Buying a house is making your mark within your community, so why not make it fun?"

Registration for the workshop ends Monday. To register or for more information, call 255-9639.