Not even a rainy, dreary, cold morning could keep 500-plus chasers of the "American Dream" away from George Washington Middle School last Saturday morning. They came to learn the intricacies of home ownership.
It was Alexandria's 12th Annual Homeownership Fair with sessions on How to buy a home, What it takes to overcome past credit issues, Where affordable homes are in Alexandria, and myriad other subjects as well as meeting, face-to-face with realtors and financial specialists. They were all seeking the information to making their dream of home ownership come true.
Under the aegis of Alexandria's Office of Housing, the annual event combines vendors representing mortgage companies, realtors, and financial institutions with seminars, in both English and Spanish, on such topics as "The Homebuying Process, Credit Issues, Affordable Financing, and Condominium/Homeowner Association Membership."
"The turnout has been very good with people asking a lot of good questions," said Mildrilyn Stephens Davis, director, Alexandria Office of Housing. Her seminar on "Affordable Financing" was filled with inquisitive buyers.
Scott Stapleton, home mortgage consultant, Wells Fargo Bank, went a step further. "The turnout has been phenomenal. Many more than we expected," he said.
And, the audience was not limited to Alexandria residents. "This is my first time at this event. I'm looking to buy a home and having all this information in one place is great," said Kieva Bankins from Maryland.
Opening at 9:30 a.m. with a welcome from Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille, the fair last until 1 p.m. There were two complete sessions of seminars, enabling attendees to attend two of their choice.
In addition to financial advice, there were also exhibits on how to protect that home investment once it was made. "Once someone buys a home we have a lot of equipment and advise on how to deal with indoor environmental issues," said Holly Feltner, environmental health biologist, Alexandria Health Department.
"We tell people how to control mosquitoes and how to be on the alert for rabid animals. But, we are primarily concerned at this event with indoor air quality," she said.
In addition to financial institutes and realtors there were a number of non-profit organizations represented. These included such groups as the Northern Virginia Urban League, HOMEFREE USA, and Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia. Overall, there were more than 50 exhibitors representing a myriad of interests.
Ann Duff, McEnearney Associates, describe the event as "very solid. The crowd is very diverse with a lot of interest."