It was announced recently that the National Association of REALTORS has awarded grants totaling more than $60,000 to 19 state and local Realtors associations through the Housing Opportunity Program.

This is great news for agents all across the nation who have would-be buyers struggling to make the transition to homeowners.

These grants are designed to create programs that will raise awareness about how desperately buyers need more affordable options in the housing market -- and the know how to find these options. It will also promote activities that will educate consumers about what the process of homebuying includes.

It's all about having educated buyers. Educated buyers make better decisions.

"Realtors are leaders in creating housing opportunities and these grants further our actions toward making housing affordable for all who are willing and able to become homeowners," said NAR President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc., in Miami.

NAR's Housing Opportunity Program Grants were established in 2006. Individual grants of up to $5,000 are awarded four times per year, in February, May, August and November. Since the program's inception, nearly 200 grants totaling more than $660,000 have been awarded.

The first round of grants have been awarded and are already allocated towards some great programs.

Some associations have decided to put their grant funds towards creating online, interactive resources providing information about financing options and housing programs.

Others are focusing on a pressing community issue. Many areas are facing high levels of foreclosure, which is affecting the overall value of the market. These areas are using their grant monies towards free short sale and foreclosure prevention courses.

Additional associations are going another route on the education path by creating a brochure highlighting a wide range of financial incentives offered by public and private entities for buyers, owners and sellers.

Finally, some grant money is being used towards creating programs for downpayment assistance, a true need of so many homeowners when lenders are requiring up to 20 percent down.

Areas all across the nation now await round two of awards.

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