Select Milwaukee helps make home-buying possible

Founded in 1990, Select Milwaukee is a non-profit organization with one initiative: to encourage and support home buying in the City of Milwaukee.

The organization works in a partnership with St. Francis Bank to provide a variety of homeownership services and mortgage financing, and so far, has helped over 1,000 people reach their dream of buying property.

The program also partners with businesses, other non-profit groups, home inspectors and real estate professionals to create opportunities and assist with every step of the home-buying process.

Most of the organization's customers are first-time homebuyers, but Select Milwaukee also assists families who want to relocate to a new neighborhood or "trade up" for a nicer or larger abode.

"Many people think rate is the bottom line, but there are many other considerations when looking for the best mortgage financing," says Ray Schmidt, executive director for Select Milwaukee. "We provide financial guidance, including helping a person determine their price range, finding the best financing, providing technical advice if a person is interested in purchasing and rehabbing a home and putting together a complete loan package to expedite the application process."

The program supports home-buying in all of Milwaukee's neighborhoods, but a number of employer-assisted homeownership programs offer incentives to those who buy property in certain neighborhoods.

An alliance with Harley Davidson focuses on the properties surrounding their facility at 37th Street and Juneau Avenue, whereas alliances with community-based housing developers like the West End Development Corporation and the YMCA Community Development Corporation concentrate on areas such as Riverwest, Historic Concordia, Harambee and Midtown neighborhoods.

Tim Cook, who had lived in Riverwest for 10 years, wanted to make the jump from renter to homeowner, but was unsure where to start. "I had no idea where to begin," he says "but Select Milwaukee was very helpful in eliminating the unknowns and educating me about the process."

After working with a homeownership specialist for six months, Cook soon bought a duplex in Riverwest from the YMCA that had been completely repaired and restored as part of a purchase-rehabilitation program.

Sherry Reynolds purchased a home in the Sherman Park neighborhood with the help of Select Milwaukee. "The steps to becoming a first-time homeowner can be stressful," she says, "but that's why the counselors are there, they provide you with all the necessary advice and information."

Other programs includes the Safety 1st Homeownership Initiative for police officers, fire fighters and other safety professionals, and the Teacher Homeownership Initiative for teachers, principals, guidance counselors and school staff.

Select Milwaukee also offers homeownership workshops, providing information about the process and personal credit issues.

"Milwaukee is a fantastic place to own a home. Your choices of neighborhood and architectural styles are unmatched anywhere in the metro area," says Schmidt. "Home purchase in Milwaukee is a solid investment. Values have been consistently appreciating over the past several years, in many areas, at rates far ahead of suburban communities."

For more information, contact Select Milwaukee at (414) 562-5070.

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