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Home buyer seminar provides useful tips

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER – Managing editor
Buying a home shouldn't be a shock to the system and shouldn't be done alone.
Tuesday night, Hines Realty presented a home buying seminar to provide information for first time home buyers or anybody looking to buy a new home. Several representatives from banks, mortgage companies and mortgage loan brokers in the area that recently closed mortgage loans for Hines Realty customers.
Right now is still a good time to buy a home, and according to Jackson Hines, financing is the ultimate goal before buying a house
&#8220You need to be pre-qualified for what you can buy,” he said. &#8220When you're ready (to buy) it makes it so much smoother.”
According to a handout available at the seminar, the only sure way of knowing whether you know how much house you can afford is through pre-qualification. Pre-qualification begins the process of formally applying for a mortgage and gives everyone involved a clear sense of direction.
According to Wade Anthony at Regions Bank, &#8220if you can get pre-qualified it's the best thing you can do.”
One way to avoid bad credit is &#8220don't shop your lenders.”
People who currently own homes and are ready to buy a new home should put the house up for sale and then house hunt, Hines said.
One of the most important decisions when buying a house is choosing the right realtor. As realtors, Hines said, they can recommend banks and mortgage companies. But there was one recommendation that Hines advised against.
The realtor is someone who will take the time to find out everything you are looking for in a home. According to a brief video shown at the seminar, the final decision should be made by the buyer not the agent. And while shopping for a home don't get stuck on fixtures. The home is what is ultimately being bought, not the contents.
Betty Clark, who teaches at the Brewton Career Technical Center was present at the seminar. She was planning on using the information to teach her students, who have already &#8220purchased” a car in one of her classes.
According to Clark, second-year students first select a practical occupation (based on education required and individual interest).  They then research the median salary for that occupation and compute their expected monthly income - 25 percent (taxes, etc.).  Of their take home pay, they are allowed 20 percent for a vehicle.  
Next semester, Clark said, they will be purchasing a house.  
Clark said she realizes the need for the hands on class she teaches. Getting a hands on experience and dealing with projects personally prepares the kids for the future.
&#8220They want to buy a car, they want to buy a house, and they know they will need insurance,” she said. &#8220Students learn ‘Skills for Life' by completing the projects.  They feel that the projects have been beneficial to them and that they have an edge on their peers in relation to being ready for the real world.”
Advice was heavily handed out at the seminar, and the best advice from one of the bankers at the seminar was to find the best lender you are comfortable with. It is a relationship and buying a house is the biggest investment you will make. Bankers in the area want to see homeownership increase.