Advantages to Homeownership: Why You Should Prepare to Buy

by Rev. Dr. Charles Butler

By now I hope you have heard and have marked your calendars to attend Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, Inc. (HCCI) Harlem Home Expo. This event will be held on Saturday, October 7th from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Riverside Church located at 91 Claremont Street, New York, NY 10027. This will be HCCI’s first Home Expo since prior to the Covid pandemic. The Harlem Home Expo is bound to be an informative and powerful event. We are excited and grateful to have the opportunity to offer this event again to our community residents after such a long layoff.  

The purpose of the Harlem Home Expo is a prospective home buyers event designed to educate and encourage individuals and families who are looking forward to achieving the American dream of homeownership but may not know where or how to start the process. Although we are experiencing an extremely tough financial and housing market, you must believe that homeownership can still become a reality. Once you understand the steps in the process and create your personal purchasing plan, you must put your plan into action. You must have adequate income and enough savings or assets to start the process.  

There is no question most lenders have become more conservative with their lending policies. Most lenders are only willing to lend about 3-4 times your annual income. Tighter lending practices, along with higher interest rates, and consistently high home market values will make homeownership more difficult to achieve than in the past, but nevertheless it is still very possible. Plus, the demand for affordable properties is greater than the supply, making this a very competitive seller’s market. 

Many of the major financial institutions will be present to discuss their specific mortgage products and will be able to pre-qualify you on the spot! There will be real estate brokers available to tell you what properties they have currently available on the market. Plus, there will be other industry related professionals present that you will want to assemble as part of your home buying team. 

We are anticipating a large turnout of between 300 – 400 people to attend this event throughout the day.  In addition to the expo, we will have panel discussions followed by a period of audience questions and answers. There will also be mini-workshop presentations covering such topics as an overview of the home buying process; what you need to do to become ‘mortgage ready’; the mortgage application process, shopping for a home, lottery programs, available grant programs that can be used to assist with the down payment and/or closing process.  

The Harlem Home Expo is an annual event, so if you are considering buying a home within the next 12-18 months, you do not want to miss it. If you would like to attend this event, register by going to our website – At the top of the homepage click on the tab for programs and services, then home buyer education and Harlem Home Expo. 

Ok, so I’m guessing by now you’re saying, “What’s the point of trying to buy a home?” Home values are too high. The banks are too conservative with their lending practices. The whole home buying process seems to be just a big headache, why even bother? That’s a good question, but you need to understand there are some major advantages to owning a home that must be taken into consideration.

Here are just a few advantages: (1) you are investing in your future. By becoming a homeowner, you are creating wealth, through the equity in your property. A lady told me a few weeks ago that she recently sold her co-op unit for fifteen times the purchase amount. What a return on her investment! If she had been satisfied with renting an apartment for that same period (more than 15 years) she would have spent over $650,000 in monthly rents and would have received nothing in return. 

I am not sure if you have been watching, but rents are now increasing at a ridiculous rate. The current average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is now about $4300 per month! Who can afford that amount? I was recently working with a single mother with two teenage children. She was seeking a two-bedroom unit. I contacted a real estate agent who is a friend of mine and she had two units available. The asking rent amounts were $6200 and $6500 per month! 

About two weeks ago I was attending a rental housing conference, and a portion of the discussion was dealing with the outrageous rent increases that landlords are now charging. One housing counselor attending the meeting informed the group that they heard of single rooms now being rented for $1200 – 1500 per month. The bathroom was in the hallway and the kitchen was shared by all residents.  Renting for most people is no longer an option.

(2) As you pay down the outstanding principal balance, you will be increasing your investment portion of the property. The money circles back around to you as a homeowner through the equity, where in renting your money goes away from you and never returns. This is a huge benefit because you will find that owning a home in many instances will be less expensive than renting an apartment.

(3) Real estate taxes and the mortgage interest payments are tax deductible. Many individuals and families are earning a decent salary but are losing a great deal of their income through taxes. Homeownership will provide you with some much-needed tax shelters that are not available to renters.

When you consider the benefits of owning a home it is worthwhile, but you must be willing to make the sacrifices to successfully complete the process. If you are interested in attending the workshop or have questions regarding the home buying process, contact Rev. Dr. Charles Butler at (212) 281-4887 ext. 231 or email at

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