Finding a Home

Did you know that the Federal Reserve, Forbes, the National Association of Realtors, Harvard, and many more experts say that home equity (the home’s current market value minus what’s owed on the mortgage) is one of the top contributors to American household wealth?

That’s because unlike other assets purchased with a loan, homes actually gain value as you pay them off. Right now you might be thinking, “This sounds great, and I’d like to purchase a house, but I have so many questions: How do I start? How much is a down payment? How do I find a lender? What do ‘escrow’ and ‘PMI’ mean?”

Or maybe you already have a home but you’re facing foreclosure and the possibility of losing it. You’re wondering what your options are—or even if you have any—to prevent the foreclosure.

The good news is that TAP’s Housing Counseling program can help anyone find answers to these questions.

When you hear “housing counseling,” you might not know what it means. Our HUD-certified counselor, Ashton Fallen, oversees the program and does everything from negotiating foreclosure preventions to demystifying the homebuying process and assisting you through the steps. She can even help with a down payment for your first home, if you meet certain qualifications.

Lena Griffin, a first-time homebuyer who worked with Fallen, says, “I was unaware of how to navigate the process from the role of the realtor, mortgage agent, and myself; the importance of a home inspection; the steps in the process and the order they occur in; the rights of the homebuyer; as well as the different types of mortgages, and the pros and cons of each.” Speaking for many homebuyers, Lena says there is so much information, it’s difficult to organize and understand it all.

Below is a sampling of the most common comments we hear about the homebuying process.

I don’t know where to start

The homebuying process can be daunting. “It’s important to be informed and know all your options,” says Ashton. Our Housing Counseling program is open to anyone, and the best place to start for a newbie is the first-time homebuyer workshops. At a typical workshop, you’ll be introduced to the basics of homebuying, including where to get started, how to find a realtor, how to find a lender, and what to look for when touring a house. These are held monthly at various locations around the Roanoke Valley. Click here to find a list of upcoming workshops and register.

The process is too complicated

If you’ve thought about buying a home, you know that going from looking at a house to closing on it is a path with many steps. Even people who have purchased a house before don’t fully understand the whole process. Ashton says, “Knowledge is power. There are many cases in which people didn’t know what they were signing up for.” TAP offers one-on-one counseling to work with a certified housing counselor each step of the way.

I don’t have the money

The top reason many people continue to rent despite wanting to own a home is that they don’t think they have the money yet. For those who qualify, TAP offers down payment assistance, or DPA, to help first-time homebuyers overcome the first financial hurdle of the homebuying process. If you can save half of the down payment, TAP’s DPA will match it up to $4,000.

I have a house, but I’m about to lose it

For those facing foreclosure, it sometimes seems inevitable. Unexpected circumstances may feel like a force pushing you out of your home. Ashton emphasizes, “You need to know your rights.” There are options even when it feels like hope is lost, and TAP’s Housing Counseling can provide foreclosure assistance. Ashton remembers a client, a single parent to three children, who was behind on bills and constantly stressed, struggling, and scared. When she came to TAP, the bank was on the verge of transferring her information to the foreclosure department. With Ashton’s help, the client submitted a loan modification application, which was accepted in the nick of time. She is now on a modified repayment plan and still in her home with her kids.

“I felt alone, stupid, and frustrated,” says Lena, “[but with TAP’s help] I had more confidence in purchasing my home. I only wish I had started with the counseling earlier.”

Buying a house doesn’t have to be intimidating, and you don’t have to go through it alone. TAP’s Housing Counseling is open to anyone in the Roanoke Valley and Alleghany Highlands. To get more information or make an appointment, contact Ashton Fallen at (540)283-4917 or