This year about 250 people attended the African American Homeownership Fair. It was the lowest turnout we have seen in the 10 years of the fair's existence – including the first year when more than 400 showed up. The low turnout is a sad indication of these financially insecure times.
The foreclosure crisis has reached Portland, and it has hit with a vengeance. Across the city people locked into sub-prime loans are at risk of losing their homes. Banks are behaving more cautiously. Credit is harder to secure. But most of all people are worried about their jobs and their future.
A former Missouri legislator nailed the problem when she told me: 'People are hunkering down right now. They're not buying big-ticket items."
That's a good strategy in uncertain times, and yet, for those of you with secure jobs and a reliable source of income, now could be a very good time to purchase your own home. Prices have dropped, bargains are on the market, and with the right financing it is possible to find a good deal and a good home for you and your family. So if you think you might qualify, if you would like to own your own home and you have a steady income, contact the African American Alliance for Homeownership and get first class advice on how to do so safely.
Those of you who already own your home, but feel ready to move up to something bigger or better, should be on the look out now, because great deals are definitely out there. Just make sure to find a buyer for your current home. While the market currently is tough for sellers, it generally is good for those with purchasing power.
For those people who are struggling with home payments, or who have slipped behind with payments, beware of predators who promise to help you save your home. These scammers sometimes say that if you will only sign your home over to them – or a third party – they will pay your mortgage, refinance the home and you will eventually get it back. They're lying. And in most cases, you will have no redress. So don't fall for a scam, get advice as soon as you can from a reputable housing agency such as the African American Alliance for Homeownership, 503-595-3517, ACORN Housing, 503-788-9989, or call the Foreclosure Prevention Hotline 1-888-995-4673.
While we are on the subject of housing predators we would like to suggest to incoming Oregon Attorney General John Kroger that he stamp down hard on these.