Military Father and Daughter Reunited

First Time Homebuyer Seminar

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By Laura Levering
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office on “The Signal”

With the onset of expected growth, Fort Gordon and the Central Savannah River Area are becoming sought after destinations for military members and job seekers. As the population grows over the next few years, so will the demand for housing.

Fort Gordon Housing Services Office conducted a homebuyer education class June 23 – 26. The purpose of the class was to educate first-time buyers on the process of purchasing a home from start to finish. The HSO collaborated with local housing industry personnel to provide subject matter experts covering a variety of topics.

On the first day, a representative talked about the mortgage and loan process, credit and budgeting. Day two covered homeowners insurance. On the third day, participants learned about the importance of selecting a suitable realtor and were given an overview of the home purchase to include closing costs.

On the final day of class, participants toured a house in a nearby community off the installation where they observed an onsite home inspection and learned about various warranties and tips for maintaining a home.

Gail Trzonkowski, associate broker and military relocation professional, said now is as good a time as ever for purchasing a home.

“Interest rates are at a historical low, and we’ve seen about a two percent increase in value on homes in the Augusta area,” Trzonkowski said.

Whether interested in a forever home, temporary housing or real estate to supplement income, military members can transform their dreams of owning a home into reality. Research and talk to other military members who have been through the experience.

“The Housing Services Office on Fort Gordon is a great resource – especially for first-time buyers,” said Tara La Mantia, associate broker and MRP.

The HSO can help with finding a realtor, which La Mantia believes is the most important step.

“A good realtor can guide that person through the process of finding the right lender and program that’s best for the buyer, and then they can begin looking for the right house.”

A realtor will also do the legwork to find an ideal home based on your needs. One of the best ways you can help the realtor help you is by establishing a budget. Although you might qualify for a $250,000 loan, it could still result in a financial strain. Consider all costs – power bill, energy, gas for commuting and other expenses. A good realtor will stick to your budget by showing homes in the price range you set.

“The right realtor won’t let you buy a home you’ll end up struggling to afford,” La Mantia said.

“It’s easy to get in over your head,” Trzonkowski added. “Look past the glitz and glamour.”

Petty Officer 1st Class Darius Colson, is taking their advice. Colson said he knew absolutely nothing about purchasing a house until he took the class. After spending the majority of his Naval career living in apartments, Colson said he has his mind set on purchasing a home. One of the highlights for him from the class was learning about the pros and cons of buying versus building from the ground up.

“It opened my eyes to looking for a development that’s in the process of being built,” said Colson, information systems technician with Navy Information Operations Command- Georgia. “If I get to (the property) before the contract is already drawn out, I can get a lot of things I want added to the contract instead of making modifications later and having to pay more money.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Dale Roberts, cryptologic technician with NIOCGeorgia, felt so strongly about the class that he plans to share what he learned with others.

“I think it should be a law that anybody getting ready to buy a house attend this kind of workshop,” Roberts said.

The Fort Gordon HSO conducts the home buyer education class on a quarterly basis, and the office is open for walk-ins. For assistance with purchasing a home or other housingrelated needs, stop by Room 229A in Darling Hall.

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