Dream a Little Dream
By Amy Goodman
Co-Director, Autism NOW Center
Having dreams is good, making them a reality is better. It has always been a dream of mine to have a nice little house with a white picket fence and a two car garage. Okay, I’ll settle for one out of the three. It may not have the white picket fence or the two car garage, but it’s mine as of this month.
On December 18th, 2013, I signed the closing papers for my new house. It has taken me a long time to be able to afford to purchase a home and the experience has been exhausting, yet wonderful. Fortunately, I worked with individuals who were able to answer all of my questions in terms I could understand. The experience will be different for everyone, but the process should be similar.
If you have a disability and are interested in purchasing your own home, I strongly encourage you to research Housing Assistance Programs and chose one that fits your individual needs. Some states have programs that offer low-interest loans or mortgage assistance to home buyers based on their earnings. Disabled World provides a list of local, state and national programs offering housing aid to individuals with disabilities. As for me, I had to go the traditional route, which is fine. I enjoy being independent and self-sufficient.
The next thing you may want to consider is finding a housing counselor. A housing counselor can help you learn about the steps involved in buying a home and set up a budget plan to help resolve any financial issues prior to getting a loan. I chose to go directly to a real estate agent to help me locate the perfect house. Similar to housing counselors, real estate agents can also provide recommendations for buying a home; however, they are more directly involved in the process.
A real estate agent’s responsibilities may include:
- taking you to see the homes that interest you
- negotiating with the seller to get the best price for you
- helping you apply for a loan by recommending lenders
- and explaining the legal paperwork
My real estate agent showed me houses within my budget and explained how to make an offer on the house once I found the one that I wanted to buy.
After I made an offer with my real estate agent, he introduced me to a mortgage loan officer who helped me to fill out the application for a loan to pay for the house. They made it really easy – they filled in the application and I signed on the dotted line. Once the loan was approved, I worked with my real estate agent to set up an agreement with the seller as to who pays what costs. Then, the mortgage company had an appraisal done, which is a formal evaluation of the house, to let me know how much money they were willing to loan me. The seller then agreed to all the terms. Needless to say, the last few months have been busy; however, I’ve learned a lot along the way.
I’ve realized that there are a lot of small steps involved in purchasing a home. For instance, you are required to shop for home insurance, which is added into your mortgage payments each month. I also learned that you don’t have to pay the actual asking price for the house and that you can negotiate with the seller and bargain for a better price. I learned what an appraisal is and why it is important to do an inspection of the house yourself before making an offer.
Owning a home is a big responsibility, but it sure makes me feel independent and free. The next big step in my life is to get married. My fiancée and I bought the house first, so we would have somewhere to live after we get married. Now the wedding planning begins…