Go Deeper

Art House

Posted June 3rd, 2009

We’re all feeling the pressure of today’s economic crunch. For artists, whose income can be sporadic, broader economic problems can have a disproportionate impact on them. When Philly’s artists begin to hit the thirty mark, many, like the rest of their fellow-citizens, start thinking about owning a home. But are they worthy in the eyes of loan officers and other gatekeepers of the home buying process? Even as home prices come down from the market’s bubble bursting?

“These people are my friends, my social contacts; they’re who I spend my life with,” real estate agent Trish Kelly said of her involvement in the arts scene.

Trish, who supports the local arts scene by donating 15% of her commission back to the theater, dance, and arts communities, specializes in getting artists into houses. Each month she and business partner Gail Finnegan hold a seminar aimed at helping first timers sort through their questions and concerns. Monday night I attended their seminar to hear the thoughts of potential buyers from the arts community.

“I’m an actor. I’m broke. I make a living in the arts. But it’s a modest living,” said Terry Brennan, a seminar attendee, of the challenges he faces as a prospective home buyer. Many shared his sentiment. Some attendees faced the challenge of having little or no money for a down payment while others were concerned with how their low incomes affect their prospects.

For many of the seminar’s attendees, the information proved helpful. “It took the scariness out of the process,” said Terry.

Adam Woods, a small business owner, was impressed by the seminar and relieved at the overall ease of the process. “My next step,” reflected Adam, “is to get strategic about credit, sit down with family and partner, and talk to Trish about getting the process started.”

Here are some of the key points that Trish covered that will help get roofs over our city’s artists:

Take advantage of Obama’s $8,000 tax credit for first time home buyers. Outlined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the tax credit does not need to be paid back as long as the home remains the buyer’s “main home” for at least 3 years after the purchase date. To be eligible buyers must purchase their home before December 1.

Working for yourself is not a problem in the home purchasing process as long as you have a documented income stream and tax returns.

Low income does not mean you will be ineligible to purchase. “It’s possible. I’ve worked with artists and other clients making $10,500 and I’ve found them a home,” said Trish.

For more information, visit Trish’s page at Plumer Real Estate.

–Jennifer Burrini

Photos by Jennifer Burrini