A New Homeowner Testimonial
Friday, October 26, 2018
The Urban Institute recently released a study that shows millennials are buying homes at lower rates than the two previous generations. One of the report’s recommendations is to improve young adults’ knowledge about finances, including homeownership down payment assistance options.
GROW South Dakota has long been helping first-time homebuyers navigate the complicated process of home buying. We provide people with the right resources and knowledge to make informed decisions.
People who access GROW SD’s services are often surprised at the financial help that’s available to them. Those of low and moderate incomes may qualify for financial assistance towards some of the biggest obstacles to buying a home — a down payment and closing costs.
One of GROW SD’s recent success stories is a young professional in Aberdeen. “I’ve lived in Aberdeen for nearly 6 years now. This is the longest that I’ve lived in the same town since I was 10 years old. The fact that I was able to purchase a home in the community that I have become a part of and care about is very gratifying,” she says. “This is my first home purchase. My dog, cat and I were previously renting an apartment; both absolutely love having more space and a big backyard.”
Though she wishes to remain anonymous, the first-time home buyer answered a number of questions for us about her experience.
Tell me about the home you bought. Is there something you particularly like about it?
We really love our early 20th century home. We wanted a smaller home (easier to maintain), with comfortable payments and bills, sturdy foundation, but not one that was a fixer-upper. We really fell in love with the hardwood floors, big fenced-in backyard, the location, lots of natural lighting, and the fact that the changes that were “needed” were mainly cosmetic. It just was a really well-built house, in our budget, with the perfect number of bedrooms and bathrooms, with a lot of old-school charm. We struggled to find “deal-breakers” with the home.
What was it like to navigate the process of home buying?
We were really glad that we had professionals along the way to help us. There were times when things got stressful and confusing, but everything was worth it in the end.
What do you wish you had known beforehand? Was there anything that surprised you?
We wish we had known that a survey was required for the home purchase (we ended-up having pay for one because of our neighbor’s fence after the fact). We bought a home during the busy realty season; sometimes we had to call and make sure that one hand knew what the other hand was doing as far as the loan, grants, closing, etc. We were really surprised that when we were trying to get approved for a loan, that even with nearly perfect credit scores, we couldn’t get the bank to call us back. We ended up going with a mortgage broker and received excellent service, even though we weren’t buying a super expensive home.
How did working with GROW South Dakota help you?
The Homebuyer Ed class through GROW SD was really helpful. Never having purchased a home before, I didn’t understand what the breakdown of the mortgage bill was. The Dakota Dream Savings Fund and LIFT Grant that we received helped us afford this house.
What would you tell others who are interested in buying a home but who might not think they can afford it?
Budget! Budget! Budget! We came to find that purchasing actually cost us less than paying rent (this includes utility bills, etc.). If you are scared that you won’t have enough money to purchase a home, or to cover bills, etc. Make a budget and stick to it. This also is helpful when trying to save for a downpayment.
How does it feel to be a homeowner?
After moving for so many years, it’s hard to explain how wonderful it feels to come home to OUR HOME. This is where we feel safe, loved, make family memories, and customize our living spaces how we want them. We don’t have to worry about horrible neighbors that you can hear through the walls, waiting for laundry facilities to open, or wondering who is coming and going next door to you. As we continue to build equity in our home, we are also building a future for our family.