Affordable Housing Expo Provides Assistance For Hundreds of Prospective Homebuyers
John Jordan | April 2016
WHITE PLAINS—Once again, the annual Fair and Affordable Housing Expo attracted hundreds of individuals and families from Westchester and the surrounding area looking to purchase or rent a home in the county.
More than 700 individuals attended the 2016 Fair and Affordable Housing Expo on March 12. The free event held at the Westchester County Center in White Plains offered advice as well as one-on-one assistance to those seeking to purchase or rent a home in Westchester. Many of the attendees at the event were prospective first-time homebuyers.
Attendees met with Realtors, mortgage lenders, not-for-profit housing counselors and agencies. The annual event was co-sponsored by Westchester County, the Westchester Interfaith Housing Corporation and the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc.
Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino spoke to the attendees at the event and stressed that while the home ownership process can be difficult, there were a host of real estate and finance professionals at the expo that could guide them on whether they qualify for a home mortgage loan, what financing program might work best for them, etc.
Astorino in an interview with Real Estate In-Depth at the event, noted, “We want people to know that anyone is welcome in Westchester County and we are an extraordinarily diverse county. However, going through the process of trying to find a home, whether to own or rent, is frustrating, it’s difficult. We don’t want people to be scared and not go through the process or think that they don’t qualify because there are experts here who can walk them through the stages of it and the county is here to help too.”
“There is a need for the Affordable Housing Expo, because too often, individuals who are not educated about both the home buying process and on-going up keep of a home, get into quite a bit of trouble with issues around foreclosure and or default,” said Geoffrey Anderson, LMSW, executive director of Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc., which participated in the 2016 Affordable Housing Expo. “Additionally, there are products that are available to first-time home buyers that they otherwise would not learn about if they did not receive First Time Home Buying Education. The expo also expose potential home buyers to industry professionals who are willing to be patient and work with first-time home buyers, who may need some hand holding and education along the way.”
Some of the seminars at the event covered such topics as: Am I eligible for affordable housing? Is it better to rent or own? How much do I need for a down payment? Are there any programs that help with down payment and closing costs? What is the importance of credit and a good credit score? and What is the role of the not-for-profit counselor, the Realtor, inspector, the attorney and the lender?
Richard Haggerty, CEO of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, said that the association has been a long supporter of the annual Affordable Housing Expo. “HGAR, along with the professionals at Westchester Residential Opportunities, the Housing Action Council and other agencies, work together to help all those who seek to call Westchester County their home,” Haggerty said.
He noted that one sector of the market that could provide some individuals and families’ entrance into homeownership is the cooperative market. The median sale price for a cooperative unit in Westchester County at the end of the first quarter of 2016 was $148,250. That compares with the $559,950 median for a single-family home and the $335,750 median price for a condominium in Westchester at the present time.
In addition, workshops were held on fair and affordable housing at the event that focused on current and pending affordable homeownership and rental opportunities, and on the application and selection process. There was also a demonstration on how to navigate through Homeseeker Online, a website that provides information about affordable homeownership and rental apartment opportunities in Westchester. Another workshop centered on rental housing opportunities. At the event, Realtors and representatives of a number of rental housing developments were on hand as well as other housing-related service providers.
The Fair Housing Department of the Westchester County Human Rights Commission also offered information on protections provided by Westchester County’s Fair Housing Law and discussed how the HRC can assist individuals who believe they have been discriminated against in the course of their involvement in Westchester’s housing market.
Featured Photo Caption: More than 700 people attended this year’s Affordable Housing Expo.