AMORY – The Monroe County Chamber of Commerce, Mississippi Development Authority and Itawamba Community Center sponsored a homeowner’s workshop Sept. 10 at Tabernacle of Faith Church. Program host Paul McCreary of Cadence Bank’s Amory office deemed the evening a success, although attendance was down from previous outings.
“We started this program three years ago. We’ve hosted over 100 participants in that time and had three customers out of that group to close mortgage loans with us,” he said. “We’re out to teach financial literacy. It’s not always learned from parents.”
Representatives from Aberdeen and Amory banks provided information, and Eula Jackson from Cadence Bank’s headquarters in Birmingham led a presentation focusing on building better credit.
She sought to assure her audience that people don’t need to fear meeting with a banker, despite other financing options that may be presented as being quicker and easier. Jackson’s target audience was first-time homebuyers who haven’t owned property in at least three years.
“We want to show you that a home loan can be affordable. There are even location and income qualifiers that can exempt a down payment,” she said.
Jackson explained requirements and components of the bank’s mortgage division products.
“One mortgage does it all. Once requirements have been met, up to $15,000 can be included for renovation or repair costs,” Jackson said.
She made a point about being aware of credit scores and put one of the guests on the spot, questioning the man if he knew his.
“It needs Jesus,” he said, which prompted hearty laughter across the group.
Jackson explained what is contained in a credit report and common misconceptions that can prove costly to an individual’s score.
“A credit score needs account activity to keep the number up. Closing accounts undermines credit standing. Managing account activity teaches the discipline needed to remain successful in today’s money market. Check your credit score every year. It’s as simple as visiting www.annualcreditreport.com,” she said.
Jackson warned about getting taken in by the easy terms advertised by small loan companies or credit repair agencies.
“Predatory lenders will cost you. I recommend credit counseling if you find yourself in that position. It’s free,” she said.
She reminded her audience that there is indeed life after such devastating benchmarks as divorce and bankruptcy, and help is available. She said the best start is to pay off the highest interest accounts first, such as credit cards, and then learn the discipline of prudent financial management.
Marcus Dilworth, 29, was one of the guests who attended.
“It was very informative for me. I can use these tips in the future,” he said