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A home for the holidays: Incentives, buyer’s market make this a good time to purchase a house in Perham

Those in Perham’s housing industry might recommend a particular tune this Christmas: “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays.”

“It’s a buyer’s market,” said Rosymar Hjermstad from the White Earth Investment Initiative. “Perham is growing, and I believe it’s probably one of the best times to buy a home in town.”

Hjermstad coordinates home buying education workshops throughout the area.

Not only is Perham growing, but there are also special incentives to buy a home within the city limits.

Mary Holzer, the assistant for Perham’s Economic Development Authority and Housing and Redevelopment Authority, said financial programs are ready and waiting to help buyers.

Loans of $3,000, with deferred interest, are available from the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) to help cover down payments on homes in Perham. Buyers must also work no more than a half-mile out of town.

“There are 49 of these loans outstanding, and seven have been repaid,” said Holzer.

The loans come due when the house is re-sold, or after 30 years.

“Perham is extremely unique in the cooperativeness that you get from the industries and businesses in the community,” said Dave Neisen, Perham’s building official.

Other assistance programs are available from KLN Family Brands for their employees and from the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund. KLN has an in-house program which will provide a grant of up to $10,000 for qualified employees.

In all, some Perham buyers may be eligible for up to $15,500 in incentives.

Not only are there assistance programs, but the cost of loans have gone down, as well.

“Interest rates are great; I’ve never seen them this low in my lifetime,” said Neisen. “But it is harder to get that loan.”

According to Neisen, regulations have gotten tougher for lending institutions, making the market tougher for long-term loans.

One benefit of ownership, said Hjermstad, is the stability of housing costs. A mortgage payment is unlikely to fluctuate, but rent can increase on a regular basis.

However, Hjermstad cautioned buyers to be conscious of their financial situation before deciding to purchase a home.

“Just because a bank tells you this is what you may qualify for, that doesn’t mean that’s the right cost of housing for you and your family,” she said. “Really, it’s about making the right decision for you and your family.”

“If you do have a stable income, stable employment and understand how to work with a budget, I think the best tool is to work with a counselor and figure out what will work,” she added.

The White Earth Investment Initiative does offer counseling to prospective home buyers, in addition to workshops, to make buying a home easier.

Counseling sessions can be held in workshop classes, the office or over the phone for no charge. An online program is also available, but for a cost.

These sessions include a “soft-pull” credit report, which can check for any problems that may affect loans.

“Whether it’s credit repair or budgeting, those are issues which could be addressed through a counselor,” said Hjermstad.

Advice is also available from the city.

“We are more than willing to help people figure out if they can afford to buy a home,” said Holzer. “We are always here to help.”

Ultimately, Neisen, Hjermstad and Holzer agreed that buying a home is the biggest investment a person will ever make.

“It’s all about being able to say that it’s yours,” said Neisen.