Buying your first home is a big deal. A very big deal. One that you want to enter into cautiously, with as much knowledge as possible. One where you will have researched and reviewed everything there is to know about homeowning until you could write a book (or a column).
That's how it goes, right?
Yeah, right. Like anyone has time today to become an expert on market conditions and neighborhoods and interest rates and radon gas and structural defects. It's difficult enough to remember to pick up cat food after a hard day at work, never mind finding the time to practically learn a second career just to buy a house.
Thankfully, there are people who can take care of all that for you. A group of people, really. Some are real estate agents who gather know-how for a first career. And the other's an organization made up of people just like you dedicated to helping homeowners and wanna-be homeowners. It's called the American Homeowners Association (AHA)®.
This national, consumer organization is a membership-based group that helps buyers with 35 services and products aimed at reducing the cost of homeownership. They recognize that when the time comes to purchase a home, buyers can't drop everything and safely focus on that.
According to AHA officials, the AHA strives to be to homeowners what AAA is to automobile owners.
It all started with founder Richard J. Roll who started a mortgage audition company, Mortgage Monitor. Mortgage Monitor helps people reduce their mortgage expenses, property taxes, and recover erroneously calculated funds.
One of AHA's acts this year was publishing a consumer guide called the Escrow Refund Guide ($4.50 includes shipping and handling). Prompted by Roll's testimony before the House Banking committee, citing excessive escrow mortgage collections, the Housing and Urban Development agency has changed its laws. As of May 24, 1995, hundreds of homeowners will receive refunds on their escrow accounts. AHA estimates that over the next three years, homeowners will receive $5 billion in refunds.
That accomplishment alone should convince you how great it would be to have these folks looking out for your best interest. It's a little like the security you have driving in the middle of nowhere, knowing that if the car breaks down, AAA will find you. And that, after your initial investment, the towing won't cost a thing.
An AHA membership costs $49 a year (call 800-470-2242 for info) and can save you hundreds of dollars. AHA will refer lawyers, contractors, real estate agents, all of whom will have been pre-screened by AHA before coming into their network.
The AHA acts as a sort of clearing house for products and information. It sifts through the offerings to come up with the best deal for those looking to purchase, and those who are maintaining a home.
All that -- for 49 bucks -- saves you time, as well as money.