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Helping Ohioans Become Homeowners in a Booming Market

COLUMBUS, OHIO — The path to homeownership can be challenging for Ohioans, especially if they don’t know where to start. The Ohio Department of Commerce and the Ohio Housing Finance Agency can help with resources to guide Ohioans through their homeownership journey, and with a heated housing market it’s essential to be prepared. 

“June is National Homeownership Month, and we know there are many Ohioans searching for their first home or a new home,” said Sherry Maxfield, director of the Department of Commerce and board chair of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA). “Commerce and OHFA have resources to help, such as down payment assistance and a public registry of licensed real estate professionals. Together we are working to lessen the stress of the home buying process for Ohioans.” 

The Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Real Estate offers resources for homebuyers and sellers including a homebuyer's guide, and information about the home inspector program that launched in 2019. 

Homebuyers and homeowners should strongly consider inspecting a home for hazardous materials including radon, lead, toxic mold, and asbestos. The Division offers more information about these materials in the property disclosure form. In addition, the Department’s Manufactured Homes Program offers information on how to address tenant-landlord disputes

OHFA offers down payment assistance, career-related interest rate discounts, and other loan products to make buying a home more affordable. Ohioans can visit www.myohiohome.org for more information on the programs and find a participating lender in their area.

Here are five tips for Ohioans starting their home buying journey:

Establish a budget and save money. Having a monthly budget will help you identify your expenses and how much you can afford for a mortgage payment. The general rule of thumb is that you can reasonably afford a home that costs about 2 ½ times your annual salary.  

Avoid major purchases and unnecessary spending. Keep in mind that once you decide to buy a home you should avoid making any major purchases until after closing is complete. Purchases such as buying a car or furniture or missing a bill payment could cause a pre-approved loan to be denied.

Work with a licensed real estate agent.  Having an expert guide you through the process of buying your new home can reduce some of the stress associated with being a first-time homebuyer. Interview several real estate agents to find the one who will best represent your needs. If you have questions about an agent or how to locate one, contact the Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing.

Receive pre-approval for a loan. Working with a reputable lender can make the home buying process much easier. OHFA has a network of lenders around the state that are ready to meet with you to discuss mortgage options. 

Find a participating lender near you. Once you obtain pre-approval from a lender, you will have a better understanding of how much you can spend when purchasing a home.

Find the right home. Knowing what type of home you want is just the first step. You may want to consider the location of your new home compared to your workplace or preferred school district. The number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the home, as well as other amenities you find necessary, can help a real estate agent narrow your search to find something that meets your needs.