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Home Team Advantage: Helping Members Cover the Bases of Today’s Housing Market

Home: (n) a place or feeling of belonging; the place where a team is based; where people are cared for; the center or heart of something.

Owning a home has long been the foundation of quality of life for Tennesseans. Not only the achievement of personal independence and financial stability, homeownership plays a crucial role in fostering economic advancement and employment opportunities within our communities. Owning a home serves as a gateway to investments, enhancing owners’ purchasing ability, bolstering credit profiles and facilitating the accumulation and transfer of wealth through generations. Like baseball and apple pie, it’s the American dream for many credit union members.

However, access to affordable housing is a growing concern in our state as a result of population growth, higher interest rates, rising home values and limited housing inventory. According to the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA), “only 43% of homes sold in Tennessee would have been affordable to a family earning the medium income in 2022, decreasing from 68% in 2021. In 2022, housing affordability deteriorated in all, but two Tennessee counties as compared to 2021.” 1

Put Me In Coach

While the current housing market can make fulfilling the dream of home ownership a stretch, credit unions play a vital role in supporting members to achieve this goal. With a full line-up of financing options and resources, credit unions help members confidently step up to the home-buying plate.

Often providing more flexibility than banks, credit union home loans can include lower down payment requirements, more lenient credit score criteria, and personalized repayment plans tailored to members’ financial situations. Competitive interest rates, niche loans and down payment assistance programs also offer game-changing advantages for credit union members.

From rookie first-time buyers to forever home-owners, personalized financial coaching and educational workshops can well position members to best understand their home loan options, improve their credit scores, and make informed decisions in the housing market.

“Enabling members to become homeowners is the utmost priority for Fortera Credit Union. By opening the door to homeownership, we help members pave the way for a thriving financial future. This starts with passionately educating members, employees and our community on how they can achieve this goal. Fortera offers home-buying seminars that are well attended, evidencing great need for these resources,” said Jennifer Ventimiglia, Fortera President and CEO.

Managing Property Value Curveballs

Current homeowners in Tennesseans are also experiencing drastic increases in property values. Over the last five years, property values in Tennessee rose 12 percent year over year, with the average home price increasing from $231,000 in 2019, to $387,000 in 2024. These increases in property value can lead to higher property taxes. In addition, homeowners’ insurance has increased over the last two years. Insurance providers indicate spikes are primarily the result of more frequent natural disasters in certain areas of the country and a rise in building material expense that drives repair costs upward.

As these increases may cause members’ monthly mortgage payments to substantially increase, providing proactive educational communication can help them prevent payment shock. Fortera recently shared resources with members explaining the possible changes, the impact to their escrow accounts and tips for managing an increase in payments.

Home Team Advantage

Core to joining a credit union is the value of belonging. It’s not just the warm hospitality we extend or the familiarity of those who serve your favorites when you visit. It’s becoming our members’ trusted home base, where they rest easy knowing we care about their families, their goals and their well-being.

Arik, H. (n.d.). | Tennessee housing market at a glance. Tennessee Housing Development Agency.

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