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Urban League webinar aims to empower first-time homebuyers facing a tough market

A Thursday webinar aims to help prepare first-time

A Thursday webinar aims to help prepare first-time homebuyers. Credit: AP/Matt Rourke

Long Islanders interested in buying a home are invited to a virtual town hall Thursday where experts will explain how to financially prepare, secure a mortgage and apply for down payment assistance.

The 6 p.m. event will be hosted by State of Black Long Island, an association convened by the Urban League of Long Island advocating for economic, political and social equity for Black Long Islanders.

The webinar, which will be held on Zoom, is "for people already in the market and those who may want to be," said Elita White-Barnes, project director of State of Black Long Island. "It’s imperative for them to be prepared for this experience. It’s one of the biggest purchases they will make."

Panelists include Tricia Gleaton, vice president of the Homeownership Center at Community Development Corp. of Long Island, where she helps Long Island residents buy and retain homes; Michelle Bage, vice president and business development officer at Citi, a major home mortgage lender; and Dilfia Munoz, assistant vice president and business development officer at the State of New York Mortgage Agency, which helps first-time home buyers make a down payment on their home.

The homeownership gap between white and Black Americans is the largest it has been since the Fair Housing Act took effect in 1968, according to an analysis published Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors. The homeownership rate for white individuals in the U.S. is 73.3%, while the rate for Black individuals is 42.1%. The analysis suggested a higher median level of student loan debt for Black home buyers was one factor that contributed to the difference.

Long Island is a tough market for first-time buyers, with today's historically low mortgage rates leading to higher home prices, said Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel Inc., a real estate appraisal and consulting firm.

"Limited supply combined with diminishing affordability presents a challenge to first-time buyers," he said.

Nationally, the percentage of homebuyers making their first purchase fell to 29% in August, the lowest share since 2019, Bloomberg reported. The report pointed to elevated prices as one factor holding back first-time buyers.

Home prices on Long Island reached record levels in August. The median price in Suffolk County was $535,000, up 17.6% compared with a year earlier. In Nassau, the median was $670,000, or 13% higher than in August 2020.

White-Barnes, who leads State of Black Long Island, said she hopes attendees come away prepared to face the daunting home search.

"Sometimes people don’t take the time to educate themselves about all that’s necessary," she said. "They focus only on saving money for the down payment, but there’s so much more."

Register for the one-hour webinar at https://urbanleaguelongisland.org/about-state-of-black-long-island.

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