Radian Guaranty and Tucson leaders on Tuesday launched Ready, Set, Own! – a new community program created to help more people in Tucson become homeowners.

Ready, Set, Own! is designed to assist potential homeowners by providing them with the information and resources they need to begin the path toward sustainable and responsible homeownership.

The program is sponsored by Radian, a provider of private mortgage insurance, which enables homebuyers to purchase a home with less than a 20% down payment.

"Tucsonans considering buying a home need good information," said Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. "I'm very pleased that Tucson will be the first city to launch the Ready, Set, Own! homebuyer assistance program."

Tucson was selected as the pilot city for the Ready, Set, Own! program, which may expand to additional communities across the United States.

Ready, Set, Own! brings together local housing, lending and credit counseling resources to develop a personalized plan that results in successful homeownership for anyone wishing to buy a home. The all-encompassing approach is open to everyone, regardless of financial status, and is entirely free.    

As a key component of the program, Ready, Set, Own! participants will be paired with local credit counselors and mortgage lenders to create a mutually supportive team of three who work together on the individual’s step-by-step plan toward homeownership.

These co-mentors and strategic guides will provide assistance with the qualifications process, credit and debt issues and establishing a downpayment savings plan.

 “The American dream of owning a home is the cornerstone of vibrant, healthy and happy communities,” said S.A. Ibrahim, CEO of Radian. “At Radian, our goal is to help people from all walks of life and all financial backgrounds to responsibly achieve that dream, but we know it isn’t always easy. Potential homebuyers sometimes need resources and guidance to help them on their way, and the Ready, Set, Own! campaign is designed to empower them with the knowledge and preparation they need to turn homeownership into a reality.”

Radian selected Tucson for this program because it was a market hit particularly hard by the recent housing crisis, with the homeownership rate falling to a recent historic low of less than 50%. The long-term goal of the program is to restore the local homeownership rate to 55%, the level it was averaging shortly before the recession. The national homeownership rate, by comparison, currently sits at 64.7%.