Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, November 24, 2017

The American dream of home ownership is Alive

Throughout 2017, this column has reported on rising home prices and decreases in the housing affordability index. For the first 10 months of 2017, the median home price in the greater Chattanooga region grew from $161,000 to $175,000.

While this 8.7 percent increase is music to the ears of existing homeowners, it represents to many in our community the reality that the dream of homeownership is slipping farther out of reach. For the most vulnerable of working families, homeownership is just that – a dream. Hence, the critical mission of Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit that does more than build affordable homes; it changes lives. While most of the homes our local Habitat affiliate builds have three-bedroom and two-bath floor plans, they have also built slightly larger homes to accommodate the needs of specific families.

These homes generally appraise for $105,000-$115,000 in the current real estate market. As you can imagine, becoming a homeowner at a price of $115,000, or $60,000 below the market median price, opens the door to homeownership for many working Chattanoogans.

This modest price is only accomplished through partnerships with local businesses, churches and civic organizations. Volunteer man hours are critical to the process of keeping costs down. Furthermore, the need for donations and fundraising is another key component to this low-cost construction tightrope.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors is proud to have a multiyear partnership with Habitat for Humanity through which we both supply volunteer workers and host a biannual fundraiser called Tee Up and Wine Down. The next such event is scheduled to take place April 9, 2018 at Black Creek.

The path to homeownership is not quick or easy for a Habitat family. The initial application and vetting process is just the first of many steps that take place during the 18- to 24-month journey. Families must also complete between 200-400 hours of sweat equity working on both their homes and other construction projects.

Children under the age of 16 are taught the value of hard work, as their good grades and perfect attendance in school is counted toward these hours.

A total of 20 classes must be attended, with topics including saving money, home maintenance, wills and estate planning, maintaining a clean and healthy home and more. These classes help ensure the Habitat homeowners will keep their home for many years.

Another key factor that keeps the costs of ownership low is the 30-year, zero percent interest loan offered and serviced by Habitat. With limited closing costs and no long-term interest accruing, the homeowner starts paying toward their principal with the first payment. Habitat’s nonprofit status makes this possible.

So, in this season of giving and thankfulness, if you’d like to help keep the dream of homeownership alive by contributing your time or resources, contact Dominique Brandt, 423 756-0507, or go to www.habitat.org/us-tn/chattanooga/chattanooga-area-hfh-greater

You can also support Habitat by donating to their two ReStores. The first store is located at 1150 E. 14th St. on Chattanooga’s Southside, while the newest store is located at 9408 Apison Pike in Ooltewah. Each store can schedule a free pick up for larger donations.

The Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors is “The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga.” The association is a regional organization with more than 1,700 members and is one of more than 1,400 local boards and associations of Realtors nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors. GCAR services Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. Go to www.GCAR.net for more information.