Monday, February 28, 2011

EMHI Lunch & Learn at the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center is pleased to announce that the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis will be hosting an upcoming luncheon training on:

Speakers at the "Lunch & Learn" will include the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Narayana Kocherlakota, and Shana M. Ford, M&I Bank Vice-President and Branch Manager for the MN Region on Diversity & inclusion.

Tuesday, April 5th 11am – 1pm
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Register for Emerging Markets Homeownership Initiative 
Lunch and Learn  in Minneapolis, MN  on Eventbrite

EMHI, the Emerging Markets Homeownership Initiative, is a program of the Minnesota Home Ownership Center designed to increase homeownership opportunities for Minnesota’s emerging markets. The program grew out of the state’s EMHI business plan launched by Governor Pawlenty in 2004.  The goal of EMHI is to promote parity in homeownership rates among Minnesota's diverse populations.  For more information about EMHI or EMHI programming, visit the MN Home Ownership Center's website, here

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Foreclosure Prevention Counseling Works in Minnesota!

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center has released its “2010 Foreclosure Counseling Program Report” that shows that over 12,000 homeowners sought the foreclosure avoidance services of the Homeownership Advisors Network in 2010 and more than half of all homeowners were able to avoid the foreclosure of their home.

At a time when several national news reports are criticizing the effectiveness of foreclosure intervention and loan modification programs, Minnesota once again breaks the trend! No other foreclosure avoidance program in the country can rival Minnesota’s success.

“Counseling services through our statewide network of nonprofit partners are providing meaningful outcomes for communities, lenders, local governments, and most importantly, Minnesota families,” said Julie Gugin, the Center’s Executive Director “We are pleased to report that more than 5,500 families remain in their homes today because of our counselors’ work.”

The report also provides a glimpse into the demographic and financial circumstances of struggling homeowners who sought help from mortgage counselors:

Click To Enlarge: The Face of Foreclosure in Minnesota

A PDF of the Infographic is available here.

According to the experiences of those seeking counseling in 2010, personal, mortgage and financial struggles are converging on many homeowners in Minnesota. The experiences reported by owners offer insights, such as:

  • Homeowners are balancing mortgages on less income. The majority of homeowners seeking help faced either a reduction in income (35%) or a total loss of income (25%) since first taking out their mortgage.
  • Mortgages have become unaffordable for many. Almost two-thirds of homeowners seeking counseling dedicated more than 30% of their monthly income to their mortgage – a recognized standard of an unaffordable mortgage. 24% of homeowners reported dedicating more than half of their income to their mortgage payment.

Minnesota experienced over 25,000 foreclosures in 2010 and this rate of foreclosure is expected to continue into 2011. As Minnesotans struggle with their finances amid current economic conditions, the Minnesota Home Ownership Center will continue providing free counseling and support to homeowners seeking help in managing their mortgage. The services are available for free through members of the Homeownership Advisors Network.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with their mortgage, you can connect with your local housing counseling agency here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Payment Changes With a Fixed-Rate Mortgage

I have a fixed-rate mortgage... but my payment just went up.  How can that be?

This is one of the most common questions the Center receives from recent homebuyers who are wondering what's happening...
  • Are they being taken advantage of by their lender?
  • Has their loan been confused with someone elses?
  • Did they sign the wrong paperwork at closing? 

Using the "Ask A Question" form on the Center's website... several homeowners asked this question, leading us to create a video podcast of the possible answers:

This short video, just six minutes long, gives an overview of how a monthly mortgage payment can change - even if someone has a fixed-rate mortgage.

This is the kind of information that is covered, in-depth, in the Home Stretch workshop.  If you're thinking about buying your first home, think Home Stretch first.

If you've already bought your home... and have a question about your mortgage or your payment, feel free to contact a local housing counselor today!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Affordability: Wages and Prices

 This post is a guest post by Laura Hodges, AmeriCorps Member
with the MN Home Ownership Center:

Click To Enlarge
(c) inspidlife (Used Under Creative Commons License)

Can you believe we are here in 2011... three years into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression! Last week a glimmer of hope was announced that joblessness dropped to 9%- the lowest in 2 years.

Although this news inspires hope, many times the national statistics don’t include local information – a community-by-community breakdown - which can led to some people feeling that the lack of sustainable housing and wages isn’t trickling down to their communities. But now there is an interactive, online tool that shares all of this information.

As you may know the Center’s commitment to successful home ownership is demonstrated in many ways including sharing relevant training for the Homeownership Advisors Network, and keeping updated on legislative issues that affect homeownership. As another show of this continued commitment Center staff attended the sponsored by the Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP), Housing Policy Showcase on January 28th. Presenters included Mary Tingerthal, Minnesota Housing Commissioner, who spoke about her commitment to have Minnesota be a national leader on housing related issues, and Leigh Rosenberg, MHP Manager of Research and Outreach who presented on the connection between housing and wages.

Leigh also launched a valuable new tool that has been developed by MHP that gives a breakdown of housing and wages for every legislative district in Minnesota.

Follow the link and look for your district, and let us know how your district is doing….  

If you’re not sure which legislative district you live in, click here.

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If you'd like to communicate with Laura, she can be reached via email, here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What does your home of the future look like?

(Click To Enlarge)

Where do you want to live when you grow older? 

For most of us, the answer is "at home." A new exhibition that opens on February 5th at the Goldstein Museum of Design looks at what a future “home” may look like as the population ages, and more of us decide we want to “age in place”.

The “Smart House, Livable Community, Your Future” exhibition, hosted by Housing Studies professor, and MN Home Ownership Center Board Member, Marilyn Bruin and Masters student Jodene Riha will explore the development of new products, technologies and design elements that will allow people to stay in their homes longer as they age.

The exhibition actually walks you through a home inhabited by fictional, 65-ish homeowners, Jim and Sarah, who have recently renovated their 1960s home so that they can continue to enjoy their active, engaged lifestyle. Visitors are actually encouraged to try out (hands-on) all of the items in the home.  Visitors can sit in a power-lifted chair, handle easy-to-use-kitchen utensils, scoot around the kitchen on a wheeled chair to try out lower counters, operate an easy-open window, sit in a fully-adjustable desk chair at an ergonomically-designed desk, and observe wall colors and lighting that ameliorate the impact of changing vision. The bath will feature a walk-in shower and reinforced wall for grab bars. Visitors will learn about a Fall Guard alert system, auto-dispensers for medications, special environmental controls, and tools and technologies that allow Jim and Sarah to do the activities they enjoy and keep them connected to the world.

The exhibition runs from February 5th through May 22nd, 2011. There is an opening party being held on Friday, February 4th from 6-8pm at 241 McNeal Hall, 1985 Buford Avenue in St. Paul. For additional information, visit the Goldstein Museum of Design website here.