As a younger, newly married Milwaukeean, home ownership has been on my mind quite a lot. I would love to own my own home, with a yard for my dog, a living room for friends, a kitchen for messy meals, but I have to admit: I’m scared! If there is anything I’ve learned working for ACTS Housing it’s that home ownership takes a lot of work. I recently spoke with Coretta Herring, ACTS Housing’s newest realtor and previous financial counselor, and shared some of my fears about the process and I have to admit – I’m not nearly as scared anymore.
After I shared some of my fears, Coretta told me,
“Home ownership is a journey, and every journey begins with the first step. Just questioning me, or having a conversation with me is a first step. Let’s take a look at where we are and where we need to be and go from there.”
Well, that’s not so scary – Coretta explained that when she meets with families for the first time, she breaks down the work into manageable “chunks,” and maps out a pathway to home ownership. They walk together through what needs to be done, what’s easiest to tackle first, and what might take a little more time. The best part, Coretta explained, “Even if it takes two years, I’m going to be right there with you.”
Coretta shared with me some fears that individuals and families have, fears that prevent them from taking the first step. One common fear is that, “I’m not ready.” For this fear, Coretta answered, “Leave it to the experts…It’s my job to get you ready! We’ll give you an action plan to get you in the right direction and we can triage the situation.” For Coretta, “being ready” is a myth. No one ever really feels ready for home ownership, but you take the first step and get yourself ready.
Another common fear is taking a look at the skeletons in the closet. Coretta explained this fear with an analogy: “It’s like getting a bill in the mail. When you get a bill in the mail that you know you can’t pay, you know it’s a bill, you know you have to pay it, but sometimes you just kinda don’t look at it and hope that it will go away.” Unfortunately, as we all know too well, those bills won’t just go away. Facing debt, credit problems, spending problems, head on is the only way to stay in front of them. Talking about money and digging up sensitive financial data can be anxiety-provoking (you know, I don’t really need anyone to see that I spent $75 on pizza last month.)
Coretta explained that you shouldn’t be nervous to have someone else looking at your financials. Here’s what she told me about checking out credit reports:
“Anybody’s credit report I look at, I never make them feel like it’s really really bad. I personally believe that every credit report can be repaired. Maybe a payment arrangement, maybe bankruptcy and getting a fresh start. I’ve never seen a credit report and thought, ‘ain’t no way in the world …’ if you’re motivated and dedicated to the process, we’re going to get there. It’s like weathering a storm. It even gets exciting, it gets addicting. Every step of the way: pay this collection, pay this collection, and then your car breaks down, we slip, we fell, something happens, let’s get back at it.”
As a financial coach for many years, and now a licensed realtor, Coretta is in an expert position to help families succeed in home ownership. Not only does she have knowledge the average person doesn’t, she cares deeply for her families and works just as hard as they do, “I am really hands on. I come with a lot of energy. I work closely with my team to get my families connected to resources and grants to seal the deal.” Coretta explained that her goal is to give families and individuals the tools and resources they need to be successful. She doesn’t stop there – she has monthly contact with all of her families
After speaking with Coretta, my fear was upgraded to reasonable apprehension. Everyone should be a little nervous about home ownership, it is a big deal, but don’t let fear keep you from achieving your dreams. Especially with someone like Coretta at bat for you, you can rest easier.
To conclude using the words of the energetic, passionate Coretta: “Let’s get to work!”
If you’d like to get started with Coretta, or other ACTS team members, attend the next Homebuyers Club! Call 414-933-2215 for more information.