In part one of this series I introduced you to my experience with Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) and the introductory homebuyer’s workshop. Today, I would like to tell you about the next major step in the NACA process – mortgage counseling.
After you have attended the homebuyer’s workshop and returned your registration information, within about 2 weeks you will receive an email with what will become something as important to you as your social security number, your NACA ID number.
Keep it. Save it. Make a note of it in your phone or where you can easily access it when you need it.
Along with your NACA ID, you will receive information on logging into your online NACA file. NACA utilizes a paperless system. It is YOUR responsibility to upload your documentation via fax or directly through the computer. If you are not computer savvy, I highly recommend finding a friend who can walk you through the easiest methods for uploading your documentation.
When I refer to documentation I mean bank statements, copies of specific bills, your budget (more to come on that later), paystubs, and any additional proof of income. The homebuyer’s workshop describes in detail exactly what items need to be uploaded.
Here is the FIRST IMPORTANT TIP I will share with you today: BE PROACTIVE. GET ORGANIZED. Gather all of your documentation EARLY. Keep a binder and stay on top of all of your documentation. Every time you receive a new paystub, bank statement, etc. upload it to your NACA file immediately and keep it in an organized binder.
At the workshop you will learn that NACA requires you create a budget. They breakdown line items for you. You absolutely must have this prepared. This budget served me and my fiancé for more than just home buying aspirations. Being that we were engaged and planning our lives together, it was a phenomenal learning experience for the both of us. We both learned how to manage our expenses and income. Budgeting became very important for us and we learned how to save money on a monthly basis. If you were to ask me what the absolute best part of the NACA experience was, it would be how to PROPERLY and REALISTICALLY budget.
At this point you have your NACA ID, are gathering your documents, and preparing your current budget. Your current budget is how you are spending and what your expenses are at that time. No need to exaggerate. They need to see your REAL utilization of money. So, what’s next?
You will be assigned a mortgage counselor and will be assigned a first appointment. Yes, the appointment AND the counselor will be assigned to you. These mortgage counselors are often booked for weeks in advance. If it is IMPORTANT for you to buy a home, then you will make your meetings happen. You will be able to schedule future meetings at more convenient times later in the process.
So, here is my SECOND IMPORTANT TIP: FIGHT for a good mortgage counselor! When I was assigned my first meeting, it was going to be a “telephone meeting” with someone in an out-of-state office.
I immediately called my local office and demanded to be scheduled with a local counselor. A telephone meeting is NOT the same as an in-person meeting. MAKE SURE your first meeting is in-person. Do not settle for anything less. Also, if you connected with a mortgage counselor at your workshop, request them as your mortgage counselor.
If you are applying with a spouse, significant other or relative, you BOTH need to attend all meetings. Again, if it is important for you to buy a home, you will make it happen.
On the day of your first meeting, have all of your documentation with you, AND already uploaded to your NACA online file. Be organized. Refer back to the NACA manual for the list of required documents to verify that all of your documentation has been uploaded.
Your mortgage counselor will review three main areas. First, they will run your credit history. There is a minimal charge for this. The counselors do NOT look at your score, they’re more interested in your credit history. If there are any red flags that will cause delays in getting a NACA approval, your counselor will point them out for you. For my fiancé and I, there were 3 collections accounts that we were unaware of that we needed to close-out. The counselor added these items to our “action plan” which we received at the end of our meeting.
The second area that the counselor reviews are your bank statements and paystubs. If there are any overdrafts, or questions about spending, these will be addressed. Overdrafts are NOT allowed. Refer to the NACA manual for the appropriate length of time since the last overdraft. The counselor will also point out questionable spending and advise you of anything you need to resolve. Next, your savings will be analyzed. You will discuss the anticipated purchase price of your new home and the monthly payments, then calculate how much you should have in your savings account for the home purchase. These items will be added to your action plan.
Finally, your counselor reviews your budget with you. This is something you need to STRICTLY ADHERE TO. By sticking to your budget you show that you are financially responsible and capable of handling the expenses of being a homeowner. Again, this is the aspect of the process that my fiancé and I benefited from the most. We realized that our small, frivolous spending added up to a large amount at the end of the month. We also learned that we were capable of saving more money each month than we thought possible.
At the end of your meeting you will receive an action plan with all the items you need to address before your next meeting. If you have plenty of money in savings, no red flags on your credit report, and your budget is in line you may be able to go straight to the application process.
For us, we needed to wait about 6 or 7 months to save enough money. We also used that time to clear up red flags.
One of the differences between NACA and a standard mortgage broker/company is that you are not going through this process for a pre-approval. You get APPROVED from the beginning. All of the hoops you jump through have a reason—an actual APPROVAL letter.
I will emphasize again that it is very important to upload your documentation every single month. Find a way to track what you need to upload. Also, always keep a copy of everything.
As you continue through the process, you will see the items on your action plan get checked off and will feel a major sense of accomplishment working towards meeting your savings goals!
After your follow-up meetings, and once you have completed the items on your action plan, your mortgage counselor will let you know that it is time for the application process!
Stay tuned as the last installment of the series discusses the application process, house hunting and being under contract!
If you have any questions you want to make sure to address in the final post, either comment or email me. I will do my best to help as many as I can!
Side note: Being that I have gone through the NACA process, I highly recommend you read ALL parts of my NACA experience before you make any decisions. You may also consider attending just the workshop to become more informed before making your decision. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! Email me at NotSo30s@gmail.com )
I am frequently asked: “Did Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) work for you?”
NACA is a company that I first learned about from a credit counselor my husband and I were seeing. We sought out credit counseling to improve our finances in order to purchase a home. A credit counselor can tell you which debts to prioritize or how to help improve your credit – but they seldom advise you on how to properly budget. This will be important later.
I researched NACA online and saw they were hosting a seminar about 20 minutes away that would take place in about 2 weeks. (At the time, my husband and I were not married yet and were living with our respective families.) It is crucial to sign up for those workshops, as you cannot begin the NACA process without attending a seminar.
My husband (should I call him fiancé? That’s what he was at the time. Fiancé. Let’s do that…) My fiancé and I arrived a couple minutes late. I’ll be honest… I gave him hell, as I despise being late, especially since I had NO idea what to expect. The seminar we attended was held in the summer of 2013. We signed-in and several NACA volunteers wearing BRIGHT yellow shirts handed out large booklets to everyone. The seminar was held in a gymnasium. Folding chairs and portable bleachers were set-up in the middle of the court, as well as a screen for a presentation. The poor acoustics in the gymnasium made it difficult to hear the short video clips that were played, and I’m sure it was worse for those sitting in the back. Additionally, the projector was not designed for such a large space and the presentation was difficult to see. I recommend, if you are attending a NACA seminar, get there early and sit close to the front!
The presentation began with the creation of NACA and who they are. I’ll admit—it was a bit cheesy and “cheerleadery.” (Cheerleadery. Cheerleader-y. I know it isn’t a word, but it fits people! Just stay with me here…) Anywho. Then, they got into the guts of the program: the requirements, how their mortgage plan works, and the steps to qualify. This is not your normal mortgage program. It is EXTREMELY structured. EXTREEEEEMELY. Yet, the benefits, if you work hard enough to qualify, are absolutely worth it. I mean it.
Now, while you are there, don’t you DARE think about leaving early and that you are slick enough to sneak out and still get credit for attending. Yes. I said credit. You cannot begin the NACA process without having attended the workshop in full. How will they know you left early? Easy… you must complete a registration form that is given only at the end of the seminar to receive your NACA ID number and this is required to initiate the NACA process. And no, you cannot arrive late either. I believe they close registration about 15 minutes after the presentation begins. Without turning in that registration sheet you will not have proof that you attended, and that form is collected at the VERY end of the presentation.
“So what, Angie? I can sit for a quick presentation. It isn’t a big deal.”
Well, the seminar wasn’t exactly quick. When I registered for the seminar it was scheduled for FOUR hours on a Saturday morning. Yup. FOUR hours. Saturday morning. It was a sacrifice; however, my husband and I very much wanted a home of our own and we felt it was well worth the investment if it got us to our end goal.
The seminar we attended did not last the entire four hours. The presenters were organized, limited the number of questions they answered in front of the group and asked for those with further questions to save them for the end of the seminar.
Now, remember that booklet I mentioned? Crucial. Vital. I can’t stress this enough. About 95% of all questions are answered in that booklet. It described, in detail, the mortgage product NACA offers. It also has all of the requirements and rules including: “What if I have had a previous foreclosure?”, or “what if I have current medical debt?”
I don’t remember all of the specifics; that is what the workshop is for. But I can tell you, that while there are rules, they are not as restrictive as most FHA/conventional type mortgages.
Some BENEFITS of the NACA Program are listed below. (Please keep in mind that this post is being written as of May 2015. All of these items are subject to change, and I insist that you visit the NACA website for more information. I am only sharing with you what I learned through my own personal experience.)
So, I’m just going to bullet point these for you. Why? Cause they are so major that they will speak for themselves.
- No Down Payment
- No Closing Costs
- Ability to Buy-Down Your Rate
- Fixed Interest Rate
- Interest Rate Tends to be Below the Industry Average
- No Application Fees
- No Membership Fee
- No Private Mortgage Insurance
- Your Credit SCORE is Not Used to Determine Eligibility, Only Your Report Information
I know you are thinking, “What’s the catch?” There aren’t any “catches” per se. There are, however, requirements and a very structured process. Here is a breakdown of some of the items that come to mind:
- Your credit report is reviewed. Any collections accounts, late payments, etc. are reviewed. This, however, is not a deal breaker. Your mortgage consultant will review your report with you and tell you what items need attention. They give you time to handle those issues or to provide a longer good payment history.
- Your budget, bank statements and monthly savings are reviewed. You must stick to a budget that you discussed and planned with your mortgage consultant. NACA has a set formula of how much money you need to be able to save each month in order to show that you will be able to handle the monthly expense of being a homeowner.
- Volunteer work is required. You can volunteer at NACA events or the NACA office. Your volunteer work is logged and you must meet a minimum number of volunteer hours in order to qualify.
- Volunteer work is required after your home purchase in order to help support the NACA program.
I’m sure you have a TON of more questions, and I am by no means finished telling you about my NACA experience. I am preparing more posts on my experience with this program. Part 2 will be all about budgeting, qualification and the application process. Part 3 will be about the approval and house hunting process. Each phase is different with NACA, as it is with any other mortgage provider.
If you have any questions or areas you’d like me to address in subsequent posts, make sure to either comment or email me. I will do my best to help as many as I can!
Note: Being that I have gone through the NACA process, I highly recommend you read ALL parts of my NACA experience before making any decisions. You may also consider attending the workshop to simply become more informed before making your decision. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! Email me at NotSo30s@gmail.com )
Saturday – January 10th, 2015
It has been quiet a while since I’ve written. Life’s many distractions got in the way. (Oh do I have a lot to write about that! Next post maybe?) For now, I find myself searching. I am on a day-to-day search for normalcy, with a little bit of routine mixed in there. For example, I’m writing my draft of this post on the Pages app on my iPhone. I never wrote on my iPhone before. I would always begin writing on my office PC during my lunch breaks at work. I would also write and edit from my laptop at home. Yet, here I am… On the go, and my neeeeeed to write has me clicking (tapping?) away on my iPhone.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about my life one bit! I’m just trying to adjust to allllll of the changes that have happened in a relatively short amount of time. This time last year I started going in a bit of an emotional downward spiral. I was engaged, trying to figure out how to manage some personal relationships gone sour, still living at home, trying to get pre-approved for a mortgage, adjusting to a new position at work (with a lot more responsibility), planning an engagement party, stressing about my weight, just getting past my sister’s wedding (that I planned in 2 weeks), and just trying to keep my stress level below “total meltdown” level.
Even with a lot on my plate, my days had somewhat of a routine to them. My Monday – Friday didn’t vary much. Being that I still lived at home with my family, my household responsibilities were extremely reasonable (as they were shared among other adults in the house). My weekends were for accomplishing things on my to-do list… For the most part, I didn’t constantly feel like I had no control of my day-to-day. (((Hold on, meeting up with someone to sell them the river rocks I used at my wedding.)))
Monday – January 12th, 2015
TWO DAYS. It took me TWO DAYS to get back to this. UGH. Anywho.
Going from living at home with my family and being engaged, and then finding my first place with my new husband, and getting married, all within about 45 days was a DOOZY. The adjustment period was virtually non-existent, since we spent those 45 days trying to make our rental livable (we had NOTHING. NO furniture, but tons of great kitchen stuff!). We also were scrambling to finish those last-minute wedding details and errands.
I immediately took on the roll of inventory manager. What do we need from Costco? Is there toilet paper in the house? Do we have anything in the fridge to eat tonight? Yes honey, there is soap under the sink. I wasn’t used to keeping all that information in my head. Then there is grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking. Those responsibilities were shared at home with my family. Now, those are on me. ONLY because I won’t share those responsibilities. My husband becomes a 5-year-old when I go grocery shopping with him. (Think: Pretending a roll of paper towels is a football and passing/throwing it to me in the middle of the store.) Also, his definition of “cooking” is making a bowl of cereal or a grilled cheese. Thankfully, he has taken over BBQ grilling duties!
What has made being the Mrs. and living with my husband WORK is that although I may own some of the responsibilities, he’s all about doing his part too. This man CLEANS. Let me be more specific. He cleans without me asking him to clean! Blows. My. Mind. For that I am eternally grateful. I am not a fan of cleaning, but I WAS raised to have pride in my home and to keep it tidy and presentable. He helps to keep our home neat and clean. Are we perfect at all times? Nope! But I love sharing a home with him.
Yet, cooking, cleaning, running errands, and spending time together was all erratic! I could barely plan ANYTHING. We moved the beginning of October, got married the beginning of November, came back from our honeymoon to the holiday crunch. Now, after the New Year (YAY for 2015!), we are ready to settle into some steady routines. Nothing that won’t allow us to be spontaneous… But something that will give us the ability to ENJOY our home and ENJOY our new marriage!
Happy 2015 everyone! Let’s make it an amazing year!
If you are currently selling your home, or plan to sell your home in the future, I ask that you please take a moment to read this letter.
Dear Future Home Sellers…
I am writing to you based on my current experience as a home buyer. Have you asked yourself the important questions as you prepare to sell your home?
Are you sure now is the right time to sell your home?
Do you just want to find out what your home would sell for?
Are you considerate of your future buyers?
Are your expectations realistic?
Are you absolutely sure you are ready to sell your home?
Why do I pose these questions? Well, because the home owner of the home we were beginning the process of purchasing has decided to not sell her home for unrealistic reasons. Also, she was utterly inconsiderate. She might have ruined our opportunity to find the right home for us. Let us start with the first questions…
I know that the market is changing and you might be considering a move. Maybe to another city. Maybe to downgrade. Maybe to upgrade. What ever your reason may be, I understand the hesitation. You don’t want to sell too soon if you can get a higher sales price a little bit down the road. You also may not want to miss the opportunity to get a fair/high sale price if the market take a dip. So, are you sure now is the right time to sell your home? The answer is a bit easier than it seems. Do your research! Your local newspapers and news stations should be reporting on your area’s housing market. Many areas around the country are still experiencing slow markets, while other are booming with sale prices increasing almost monthly. Look online for homes in your area that are for sale. Find something close and comparable to you. Also, if you still have an open loan on your home, find out your balance and see if selling your home is worthwhile.
Are you still wavering on whether or not you should sell your home? Do you just want to find out what your home would sell for? If you just want to see some real numbers before making your decisions, and don’t trust your own research, seek professional help! No, I don’t mean a therapist. Realtors and real estate agents are always available to review your property. Why would they be so willing to help you if you are not sure if you are ready to sell? First, you’re a potential client. If they provide you with excellent service and assistance you now have a contact you have confidence in. Second, referrals referrals referrals! If you tell your friends, family and coworkers about the amazing assistance of a real estate professional, you could be the source of future clients! Realtors and Real Estate Agents have the tools and experience to help review your property and give you a reasonably accurate estimate of the estimated sales price.
Now you have all of your information and want to sell your home. Great! Now, what is your timeline? Do you need to sell your home in less that 3 weeks? Do you not mind waiting 3 months for the perfect offer? How responsive do you plan on being? Are you considerate of your future buyers? How is this all related? Easy. There are many different types of home buyers. Foreigners with cash offers, investment seeking individuals/businesses, regular financing home buyers, and first time homebuyers. Think about your buyers for a second. Do you realize that you aren’t changing just your life, but possibly making (or breaking) the lives of others? The home owner of the home we just had an offer accepted on (and contract signed) was always SO SLOW in responding. We saw the home over a weekend and had an offer to them Monday morning. We asked for a response by Wednesday, but we didn’t hear a peep. On Thursday the listing agent contacted our agent to state that our offer was one of two “remaining” offers that the seller was considering. We were advised that we would have an answer by Friday. Guess what. NO response on Friday. The seller was inconsiderate enough to have another open house thinking we wouldn’t find out. Honestly, if the seller would have been upfront with us and said that they wanted just one more open house to see if more offers came in, we would have understood! They were seeking the best offer. At the same time, my fiancé and I could have considered searching for homes. But no. We waited patiently. I guess the open house wasn’t as successful. On Monday we were notified mid-day that our offer was accepted. Yet, it took the seller two days to get us a signed contract. My fiancé and I were OVER THE MOON. We were making plans for our first home and scheduling all of the inspections. Now, two days after receiving the contract and 13 days since the open house the seller has decided not to sell us her home. Reason to follow. The important thing to note is that if the seller was honest from the beginning, we would not have lost two weeks worth of house hunting. Prompt and honest responses only help everyone.
Now, let me ask you… Are your expectations realistic? What do I mean by realistic? Basic common sense. That is what I mean. If all of the comparables in your area have your home “expected” to appraise at $240,000 and you have a listing price of $260,000, do you think it is REALISTIC that you will have a seller willing to pay $275,000 for your home? A full $35,000 over the anticipated appraisal amount? That is almost 15% higher than the value of the home! How does that make financial sense for your buyer? Don’t let greed ruin a great opportunity. I am not saying to walk away from profit. But at the same time, don’t expect to find a buyer willing to drastically over pay for the value of your home. Realistic expectations from the beginning will only help with the communication and speed of the process.
You’ve done your research, you decided that you want to sell, and you have worked out your timeframe and expectations.. Are you absolutely sure you are ready to sell your home? Do you have any hesitations? Is there anything that would stop you from selling? Is there a minimum price that you will not go below when considering offers? Share all of these things with your listing agent! This helps to weed out the bad offers from the good. What ever you are unsure about can burn a deal. Be ready to make these big decisions!
Your decisions and how you handle selling your home affects many people around you. Take your time to make sure you are completely confidant with selling your home and the terms of the sale.
Taking all of this information into consideration can help you get the price you want, and avoid the heart ache that buyers like myself went through.
Wishing you all of the best,
What a difference a few hours can make! I’ve basically been sitting around all day at home with a cold… In the afternoon I asked my fiancé to take me to Walgreens… In the middle of an aisle (while looking for a replacement for my mom’s snack, which I took the last of) I got the best text message and email ever.
It took only those two words for me to yell… Well, more like squawk for my fiancé! “ACCEPTED! ACCEPTED!!! BAAAAAAABE!!! THEY ACCEPTED OUR OFFER!!!!”
I made a mini-scene in the middle of the store, but I have been desperately waiting to hear/read/see those words.
I can’t describe exactly how I feel. I am beyond ecstatic, but at the same time we need to get down to business! Inspections, appraisals, etc… This is just another step to our dream of owning our first home… and I am SOOOO ready!!
I’ve previously written about an offer that I put on a home… Our offer was declined. Here was the logic that my fiancé and I had when we walked away and didn’t provide a second offer…
The home was listed at $265,000… The market comparables had the property appraising in the $220’s or $230’s. Our financing is appraisal contingent, which means that if an appraisal came in below the contract price, we would be paying the appraisal price. The owner of the home felt that it should be sold at $265,000 – and did not want to risk the appraisal contingency.
My fiancé and I have to be smart with the major investment. It isn’t just the monthly mortgage amount that concerns us, but the value of the home in the future.
9 days ago my fiancé saw a home that was perfect for us… And we sent the owner an offer that same day. The home has a yard that we adore, a wonderful layout, and it needs almost no work! We were notified mid-week that we were one of the last two offers being considered (from many offers). We negotiated some of the terms, and want to help the seller if they are willing to help us!
The waiting game has been excruciating. We love this home more than the last… We are hoping that today is THE day we receive good news. I’m asking everyone to please cross your fingers and send positive vibes our way…
Today could be the day of our dreams…
Symptoms: Headache, anxiety, stress, nausea, nervousness, checking email every 2 minutes, checking voicemail every 5 minutes, hot flashes, mood swings, more anxiety, and constantly checking the time…
Diagnosis: Home Offer Panic
Cause: Placing an offer on a home!
This weekend was an emotional rollercoaster. We are still early enough in our house hunting process, as we have only been at this for about a month. In this time span we have visited a dozen properties, spent HOURS online visiting Realtor.com, and had several conversations with our wonderful realtor.
I’ll admit it. I have a PARTICULAR vision for my first home. There is a certain part of South Florida that I would like to live in for multiple reasons. The area just works. It is right. That area is also VERY hot right now from a real estate standpoint. I was basically told that they home I wanted, in the area that I wanted, at the price that I wanted, didn’t exist. My reaction was strong. I cried. I was angry. I KNEW that what I wanted was attainable.
Then came Sunday.
Our realtor took us to see 3 properties. ALL of them viable options. The first one, however, was special. From the moment we walked in… it just felt right. I saw how it could be my home.
Yesterday morning we officially submitted an offer on the home. As of yesterday, I am a BALL OF NERVES. My stomach is in a knot. I feel queasy. I can’t walk around without my cell phone. Honestly, I am just NERVOUS. I am trying to keep myself busy, but my mind still wanders back to our offer.
I am hoping for the best. I am trying not to keep my expectations too high.
This could be a heartbreaking day. This could be the day I have dreamt of for years…
Here I am on a Monday recapping a great weekend! I keep counting down the days until my 30th birthday and I am seeing the AMAZING and POSITIVE things that are happening to me daily!
Here is a summary of just some of those amazing things…
28 Days To Go
This day was filled with a work triumph and a wonderful gift. I had an incredibly stressful day at work and the stress was focused on one account in particular. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to come through with a quote for the account, but with TWO minutes left in the day the quote came in. I left ecstatic!
As soon as I pulled into the driveway at home UPS was ROLLING engagement gifts into my doorway. As you will see from the photo above I was in LOVE with my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. My mother has one and I have repeatedly said that when I moved out I would miss her Kitchenaid mixer and double ovens the most!
27 Days To Go
Two words: HOUSE HUNTING.
Saturday was a dream come true. Literally. I have always dreamt of being a homeowner, and I have spent MONTHS trying to get myself in a financial position to become one. Saturday just showed that with hard work my fiance and I can do anything. We learned a LOT on our house hunt and are looking forward to the search!
26 Days To Go
With 26 days left until my 30th birthday I spent the day running errands, taking care of my “to-do” list, and spending a bit of time with family. It was a busier Sunday than I anticipated and I ended up going to bed HOURS later than I had wanted to… Yet, this day felt like a success. It was a great feeling to see so many things checked off of my list.