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Affordable Housing

As originators, we need to seek out the business that will be the most profitable for us, right? Yes and no. It’s always important to make sure that you are paid what you are worth. But, in reality, our job as loan originators is to help people buy homes.

Affordable lending is extremely important for originators to emphasize, especially in today’s high-cost real estate market. Homes that low- to moderate-income borrowers could afford four years ago may no longer be affordable. Their only chance of finding a place to call home is with affordable loans.

So, whom do the low-to-moderate renters turn to when they are looking to buy their home? How can you, as an originator, get your foot in their door? First, you must know that when you step into the realm of affordable lending, much patience will be required, as well as guidance and hand-holding. On the other hand, you’ll experience a great amount of pleasure once the loan has closed and the client is happily in their first home.

To get into affordable lending, get yourself into the neighborhoods and cities that have programs to help the low-to-moderate borrower. Some examples are community development corporations (CDCs), City Hall, the local library, and Boys and Girls Clubs.

These types of organizations are full of people who are either working to help those in need of affordable housing or are potential clients themselves attending classes at these sites. The table above lists Web sites that have an abundance of information pertaining to affordable housing. These sites, along with the other suggestions in this article, can provide you with the know-how to begin teaching first-time homebuyer classes at non-profit organizations and CDCs. Many of the city-funded CDCs distribute a list of local loan officers to the thousands of people who graduate from their first-time homebuyer classes each year. Your goal should be to get on that short list! Here are some suggestions:

Make a name for yourself. Volunteer your time on an affordable housing committee.

Get to know inner-city real estate brokers. Join local real estate chapters and attend their meetings. Many of these brokers will deal directly with your potential clients and some may also contribute to the real estate classes given by the non-profit organizations. Knowing them is key to your success.

Join a local not-for-profit organization that lobbies local politicians. Organizations such as the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance  counsel first-time homebuyers, lobby politicians, hold rallies for government involvement and funding to inner cities, and present first-time homebuyer seminars funded in part by local government budgets.

Get your name and contact number in front of your potential customers. Put your business card or flier in local neighborhood eateries, adult-ed schools, childcare centers, Laundromats, barbershops, and super markets.

Promote your services. You can educate the potential homebuyer! Check your local library and if there is not already a class, initiate one for free. Look at the adult-ed schools and see if there is a class for first-time homebuyers; if not, submit your resume.

Advertise at local apartment complexes. Use fliers and mailers to inform tenants that you are available to help them achieve their dreams. Arrange for a free workshop to be held in your office and hold it weekly—even if only a handful of people come.

Let me emphasize that you will do more work and most likely spend more time with these clients. They will be fearful, anxious, and in need of your expertise to get them where they are going. I can say from experience that once you begin working with low- to moderate-income clients and have taken them under your wing, they will be the most loyal of all customers. They all have families, friends, colleagues, and futures. Working with these clients presents a terrific opportunity to have repeat customers who will become your best referral sources. The work and time you put in with these clients will definitely be returned to you.

By Allison E. Hulme Pedroza

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