When home prices and mortgage rates are both on the rise, owning a home can feel like an elusive goal for people of low to moderate income. But what first-time homebuyers may not realize is that resources are often available that can make the real estate market less intimidating. With the help of a community lending officer, Ralph Jackson of East Tampa, Florida, took advantage of some of those resources — and as a result was able, at the age of 61, to purchase his first home.
A lifelong resident of East Tampa, Jackson had long assumed that owning a home was not within his reach. Then, in 2019, he walked past a sign advertising a first-time homebuyers program offered through a housing nonprofit and a local homebuilder. Jackson thought it couldn’t hurt to see whether he qualified. He not only met the criteria — he also found out about opportunities for financial assistance that could help get him to his goal.
The journey wasn’t without its hurdles. Almost as soon as the process began, the pandemic brought things to a standstill, but not before Jackson connected with Patti Bonner, a community lending officer at Bank of America in Tampa. She became his steady guide, eventually introducing him to a Bank of America Connect to Own partner, Solita’s House, a community development organization that provides homeownership education and counseling.