Realtor says education is key to home ownership
in changing economy

   They’re not old enough to actually purchase a home but middle school students have become associate real estate broker Lisa Wasson’s targeted customer. Wasson, an independent realtor with Keller Williams, a Rochester-based company whose focus in on training its realtors on innovative ways to serve buyers and sellers, says education, starting with school students, is key to keeping the American dream of home ownership alive in this challenging economy.

   Wasson is a life-long resident of Livingston County who has spent the past seven years in the classroom at Cal-Mum Middle School, educating young people about the basics of home ownership. Home and Careers teacher Mrs. Joyce Miller includes a housing unit in the course and has Wasson come in to speak on home buying topics. Wasson believes that if communities and schools in this area are to remain viable, young people must be taught the basics, starting with personal finance.

   "I like to tell the students that their credit report is like a report card showing how well they understand how to handle their money," she commented.

   Miller has the students study different home styles and then use a shoebox to design a layout of their dream home. Wasson then comes in and talks to the students about housing expenses including what a home purchase costs versus renting, what utilities and other related housing expenses are and what they cost and finally, what a mortgage is.

   "You’d be surprised how many middle school students know what a mortgage is and how much their parents’ are paying each month for their home," Wasson said.

   After they talk about home style, location, property taxes, cost of the home, related monthly expenses and obtaining a mortgage, Wasson asks them to calculate how much money they need to earn each month to pay for all of it. Then she illustrates for them what an entry level job would pay versus a job requiring a college education or technical training.

   "It doesn’t take them long to see that the entry level job is not going to earn them enough money to pay for the home they want, not to mention everything else that goes with home ownership," she said.

   Wasson has proof that partnering with area schools is a good way to keep young people encouraged about home ownership and more specifically, about buying a home in the Livingston County area. She recently helped three young twenty-somethings purchase their first homes in Livingston County. One of them was a former Cal-Mum student who had participated in Wasson’s housing unit when he was in middle school.

   "These are young kids coming out of college with good credit who are able to take advantage of some of the incentives out there for first time home buyers," remarked Wasson.

   She helped a young 22-year old man qualify for a Genesee Valley Rural Preservation Council grant to help with his down payment. GVRPC is a not for profit corporation that assists housing development in Western New York, specifically, Livingston, Wyoming and Genesee counties, with grants that can be applied to the buyers’ down payment, closing or repair costs. Eligible homebuyers can qualify for up to 14 percent of the purchase price as a forgivable grant, up to a maximum of $15 thousand. In addition, the buyer qualifies for the federal government’s $8 thousand credit for first time homebuyers and favorably low mortgage rates in some cases below five percent for a 30-year mortgage.

   She helped another young buyer in his early twenties purchase a home and secure a mortgage through the USDA and a 23-year old young woman to purchase a double occupancy property that she plans to hold on to for retirement income some day.

   She says the Greater Rochester area, including the surrounding areas like Livingston County, faired much better through the housing crisis than some areas in other parts of the country.

   Wasson says she is committed to her work with young students and would like to expand her involvement with area schools in classrooms and in continuing education programs.

   "With a little education, buyers and sellers will find this is a good time for both," Wasson commented.


Associate broker and realtor Lisa Wasson spends time in the classroom at Cal-Mum Middle School. She says educating young people about real estate and home ownership will help schools and communities remain viable.