In a post-Katrina housing market that favors the seller, one South Mississippi mortgage company is going the extra mile to help people who want to buy a home but think they can't afford it.
According to the Mississippi Home Corporation, since the hurricane the average home loan has increased from $80,000-$90,000 to $130,000-$140,000. In response, Sunny Mortgage began holding free seminars in April.
Since Katrina, many potential home buyers see For Sale signs with mixed emotions. They're happy to find property that's available, but often it's at a price they can't afford.
Sarah Cooke wants to buy her first home.
"It's been rather depressing at this point and mostly because of the area I want to be in. I want to go back to Bay St. Louis. At this point all I can afford is stuff that's been gutted and I can't afford to buy and then continue to rehabilitate."
At a seminar for first time home buyers, Sunny Mortgage representatives tried to introduce people to some of the funding options available.
"The biggest thing is education with homeownership workshops," said loan officer Molly Lionberger.
"This is our third homeownership workshop. This time we invited Betty Temple from Mississippi Home Corporation to talk about the low interest bond programs that offer three percent cash advance toward closing costs and down payment. So that's a great benefit for people that are looking for a home."
Home buyers aren't the only ones looking to become better informed. Builders and real estate agents are also learning more about resources.
Realtor Anthony Chatman said, "I wanted to come here to better educate myself so that I can better help my clients, first time homebuyers. It's a very challenging market right now for the buyer, not as much for the seller. It's very good for the seller, but for the buyer it's pretty challenging."
Realtors and lenders say the post-Katrina housing market is making home buying a challenge, but not impossible. They say everyone can afford to buy a home.
Sunny Mortgage is planning more free seminars on topics like restoring credit, condo investment and building a new home. For more information, call (228) 257-9000.