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Potential Homebuyers Look Online For Help With First Steps

A red brick house stands with a sign that says "AVAILABLE" out front.
Donna McWilliam
Associated Press
A D.R. Horton Inc. home is shown for sale in Fort Worth, Texas, Tuesday, July 10 2007. Home builder D.R. Horton Inc. said Tuesday it will post a loss for the spring quarter after net orders fell 40 percent and it wrote down the value of unsold houses, fur

Some people are still looking to buy houses during the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic slump. So, a Fort Worth-based nonprofit is helping out with virtual classes.

Housing Channel is offering its homebuyer orientations, which are usually in-person, online.

The orientations are designed, in part, to help North Texans with low-to-moderate incomes who may need assistance in securing a down payment.

About 40 people tuned into Wednesday’s orientation, which had some technical difficulties familiar to many who've attended online meetings during the pandemic: people forgetting to mute themselves and glitches with the video feed.

But Venita Jones, a senior housing advisor with Housing Channel, said the virtual meeting is about the same as being in-person.

“We don’t talk about [COVID-19]. We may say the reason why we are doing those classes virtually, because of COVID, but that’s it,” she said.

Jones walked participants through the basics of buying a home, while another staff member answered questions in a chat box.

Data from the MetroTex Association of Realtors shows a 17% drop in April home sales in North Texas, compared to the same time last year.

MetroTex blames the pandemic. A lot of people are taking their homes off the market or waiting to list them, according to its report.

Housing Channel president Donna VanNess said people who want to start the homebuying process have been preparing for a while and will push forward if they can.

"It's like, you know, food, shelter,” VanNess said. “It's just one of those things that continues even in good times and bad times. So I suspect that we may see a small decrease, but I think there are a good majority of people out there who have already started the process and want to continue."

Even if people keep buying homes, VanNess said she is concerned about a greater demand for foreclosure prevention counseling as the pandemic continues.

Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at msuarez@kera.orgYou can follow Miranda on Twitter @mirandarsuarez.

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