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Attend free seminar for tips on house hunting, purchasing

Need help buying a home? Army Community Service is offering a free home-buying seminar from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 27 in Building 7. The registration deadline is Wednesday, and it’s open to Soldiers, retirees, DoD civilians and their families.

The seminar covers a variety of issues and is relevant for anyone in the purchase process, from someone who is only thinking about buying to those who’ve already signed, said Ms. Ann Pratcher, Financial Readiness Program manager.

Many people think home-buying seminars are only for first-timers, Ms. Pratcher said, but that’s not the case.

“We provide all sorts of guidance in looking for a home,” she said. “We even talk in the seminar about reasons to rent and reasons to buy and the advantages and disadvantages of each.”

The Financial Readiness Program provides many other services for military home-buyers, Ms. Pratcher said.

“We look at financing a home,” she said. “We talk about determining whether or not you can afford it, how much home you can afford whether or not you want to work with a real estate agent. We talk about the contract the kinds of terms you will hear. You’ll know what to expect; you won’t miss steps.”

People can come in to ACS and receive individual counseling, including help with credit issues and discussion about offers and counteroffers.

“Often we ask people to bring in their contracts to let us review before they sign,’” she said. “(Home-buying) can be difficult, but more importantly it can be something you can regret. There are circumstances people don’t think about.”

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, some local housing markets in the Southeast region recorded a rise in homes sold from June 2009 to June 2010; however, home mortgages in default have put downward pressure on sale prices.

The current housing crisis is something to consider, Ms. Pratcher said, especially as it remains a buyer’s market and not a seller’s.“Many houses have lost value, so people are forced to take a loss when they PCS,” she said.

“The last thing I heard an economist say was if you weren’t going to be in a house for five years, you probably don’t need to be buying.”

The purpose of the seminar and the services provided by the Financial Readiness Program is to help people make educated choices, Ms. Pratcher said.

“I think they’ll walk away with additional insight at a minimum,” she said. “What we want is informed decisions”

To register for the seminar, set up a time to meet with a counselor or get more information, call 706-545-7517 or 706-545-2536.

The Financial Readiness Program is located in Building 2624, Soldiers’ Plaza. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. The office is closed on federal and training holidays.