First-time buyers and investors got a first-hand look at six houses and other amenities in the Burnham Park, Silver City and Layton Park neighborhoods on a recent tour sponsored by Layton Boulevard West Neighbors.
About 60 people went on the tour, with more than half intending to live in the home they purchased. The attendance of both kinds of buyer reflects the growing demand for homes in the neighborhood, particularly foreclosures, which sometimes sell before buyers who need financing can get approval for a loan.
As a result, organizers highlighted the opportunity to get pre-approved for mortgage loans, along with information on the home buying process. Eloisa Balderas of Housing Resources Inc., which provides such services for city residents, explained the organization’s offerings to attendees before the tour.
Presenters before the tour emphasized various grants to help prospective buyers purchase and renovate homes. Assistance ranges from the city-sponsored NSP grant of $30,000 to the ME2 program, which offers low-interest financing and financial incentives to make homes more energy-efficient.
The tour featured a diverse array of homes, including a Burnham Park house used as a daycare, a duplex in Silver City and a house on 28th Street recently renovated by LBWN. The buses also passed by neighborhood features such as the Hank Aaron State Trail and a row of homes designed by noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Tina Billings went to look at homes with her husband, James. They said they were attracted to the level of investment and community involvement in Layton Boulevard West.
“I think it’s a really good neighborhood to move in to,” she said. “A lot of good things are happening.” The first-time homebuyers are working with Select Milwaukee to guide them through the process.
The availability of grants drew some people who had bought homes before, including Adela Tejeda.
“The first time I owned a home, I didn’t know about the different types of grants,” she said. “This time around, I want to make an informed decision.”
Patty Ghannam also is no newcomer to buying homes — or to the neighborhood. She lives in the area with her husband already and came on the tour to find an investment property.
“We’ve lived here for five years and have enjoyed it,” she said. “We’d like to support the Layton Boulevard West (neighborhoods).”
Will Sebern, community outreach manager for LBWN, said that regardless of how many home purchases result from the tour, it was successful because it gave people a better impression of the neighborhood. According to surveys filled out by attendees, 62 percent had a favorable view before the tour, compared to 87 percent after.
“The feedback I got from talking to people was that they never knew how good the neighborhood is,” he said.
Of course, Sebern hopes people will purchase homes in the community. He said LBWN can serve as a “focal point” for home buyers throughout the process.
“We’re not the home-buying council,” he said. “We’re not the bank … We can be the organization that brings everything together for a family buying a new home.”