Like other communities in the U.S., homeownership has become one of the most important subjects for residents in Prince George’s County.
Housing experts and financial analysts say owning property not only contributes to the local economy, but also provides benefits such as tax credits to the owner.
One major goal for this fiscal year in Prince George’s will be adding between 100 and 150 new homeowners, said Eric Brown, director of the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development.
Another goal will be to provide “workforce housing,” or residential property affordable to those with a job as a police officer, firefighter, or teacher.
He said the county has invested $5 million in those two initiatives.
The county could increase its housing stock during its 6th annual free housing fair which takes place Saturday, June 10 at the Sports and Learning Complex in Landover. Brown anticipates at least 3,500 people to attend, the average attendance figure since its inception under the Rushern L. Baker III administration.
“The fair stresses the importance of homeownership and the county’s commitment to homeownership,” Brown said. “It also provides a venue for resources that are related to homeownership and financial literacy.”
Unlike in previous years, the county’s median household income of nearly $77,000 experienced its highest increase since 2010. The median household sales price at $265,000 remains the most affordable in the Washington metropolitan area.
And while the county has the highest foreclosure rate in the region, Brown said housing has improved.
For instance, he said property values increased by 3 percent from last month. During this same timeframe last year, the median housing price had increased by 13 percent.
“The best weapon we have against foreclosures is getting people educated about their financing and how to stay in their homes,” he said. “Then we direct them to reach out to capable housing counseling agencies. Those are the real resources that we’re putting into play.”
About 60 banks, lenders and homeownership and financial counselors are scheduled to participate in the fair providing advice on how to maintain a home and well as guiding those who want to downsize and may require help with fiscal management.
According to the housing fair information at http://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/1000/County-Housing-Fair, three lucky first-time homeowners will be chosen to receive up to $10,000 toward the down payment or closing cost of their new home.
For seniors wanting to keep their homes, Brown said the county has offered low-interest loans to conduct property upgrades. Additional money could be provided in the near future.
“That’s been targeted for an opportunity for seniors to stay in the homes that they know and love,” Brown said.