Houston Black Real Estate Association Seeks to Build Black Wealth Through Education and Homeownership

The Houston Black Real Estate Association (HBREA) is planning a week-long of events for the 2017 “Realtist Week” starting April 22nd and culminating on April 29th, at Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with HBREA holding a Community Wealth Building Day Expo deemed “Operation Red.”

HBREA will provide credit counseling; offer resources to sellers and real estate investors; provide loan modification guidance; introduce the financial benefits of insurance, trust and wills; along with introducing financial literacy education to the youth.

“Realtist ” is a trademark for the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) members, where the goal of NAREB)is to create 2 million new African American homeowners in 5 years. Locally, “Realtist Week” is presented by HBREA with the purpose of educating, supporting and offering resources to first-time homeowners and existing homeowners in the Greater Houston area. Locally, the goal is 4,500 new African American homeowners.

“Realtist Week” has been organized in efforts to encourage and support financial literacy, home ownership and self-sufficiency so that individuals can go into home ownership with confidence.

After fair housing legislation was passed in 1968 during the Civil Rights era, the Black homeownership rate increased for 30 years and reached nearly 50 percent in 2004, but all those gains have been erased in the last 12 years. The homeownership rate for Black households ended 2016 at 41.7 percent, near a 50-year low, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Black homeownership hasn’t been this low since the time when housing discrimination was legal.

Another key initiative established by HBREA is their Homeownership Awareness Outreach Campaign designed to increase homeownership sustainability by helping current home owners reduce their property tax expenses by maintaining their eligible exemption filings and learning how the programs benefit them and the community.

As part of the Homeownership Awareness Campaign, the goals are to:

  • Assist Area Homeowners reduce their monthly Mortgage Payment by maintaining the appropriate property tax exemptions on their home.
  • Educate Homeowners on need to monitor the Assessed Value of their property and file/maintain all appropriate exemptions on an annual basis.
  • Educate Loan Officers and Real Estate Agents on the importance and value of assisting borrowers and helping them maintain the proper property tax value, and the effect that has on qualifying for home loans and sustaining homeownership.

The true cost of homeownership is a combination of factors such as the loan amount, interest rate, insurance cost, property taxes, maintenance, utilities, etc. To truly make homes affordable for people, those factors must be monitored, which is why the Homeownership Awareness Campaign is focused on educating and assisting current and future homeowners about the benefits of minimizing those factors and the long term benefits they can achieve.

For owner-occupied residential property receiving a homestead exemption, the appraised value may be lower than the property’s market value because of what the law refers to as the “homestead cap.” A residential property qualifies for the cap the year after, on the year the owner first receives his or her homestead exemption on the property.

There are several important things homeowners need to understand and consider, such as:

  • The value of many properties is likely to increase for 2017.
  • Property owners who disagree with their appraisal will have the opportunity to file a protest prior to the May 31 protest deadline.
  • The Texas Legislature recently passed HB 3613. This bill provides for a 100% exemption for the residence homestead of qualified disabled veterans.

The homestead exemption is the single most important tax saver available to homeowners. Homeowners are eligible if they meet these requirements:

  • You owned and occupied your home on January 1 of the year for which application is made.
  • Neither you nor your spouse has claimed a residence homestead exemption on any other property, regardless of where that property is located.
  • A qualified property owner may apply up to one year after the date taxes for the year of application become delinquent (usually February 1).
  • Homeowners who are over-65 or totally and permanently disabled (as defined by Social Security) are eligible for additional exemptions, and become eligible on the date they turn 65 or become disabled. If a homeowner qualifies for the age 65 or older or disabled persons exemption, or the exemption for donated homesteads of partially disabled veterans, they must apply for the exemption no later than the first anniversary of the date they qualify for the exemption.
  • Totally disabled U.S. veterans are eligible for an additional homestead exemption, and there are several other exemptions available to disabled veterans and their surviving spouses.
  • Homeowners must file a completed application with all required documentation beginning January 1, and no later than April 30, of the year for which they are requesting an exemption.
  • Pursuant to Tax Code Section 11.431, a homeowner may file a late application for a residence homestead exemption, including an exemption under Tax Code Sections 11.131, 11.132 and 11.133 after the deadline for filing has passed if it is filed no later than one year after the delinquency date for the taxes on the homestead.

For Homeownership Awareness Outreach Campaign info, contact HBREA Chairman William “Bill” Pitre at 281-748-6353 or communityoutreachhbrea@gmail.com. For more information on the Houston Black Real Estate Association contact the president, Kim Barnes-Henson at 713-742-2424 or president@hbreahouston.org.