Finally Home! helps homeowners get off to a smart start

Joshua spent years looking for his home in the Treasure Valley. After spending more than two years reducing debt, better tracking spending habits, and increasing his income, he decided he was ready to get serious about buying. He met with Kendra Graybeal, Senior Mortgage Consultant at Evergreen Home Loans, to discuss his options. Like many first-time homebuyers, Joshua felt overwhelmed by the process.

“No matter how many times someone explained any part of the process to me, it was hard to understand,” he said. 

To help support first-time and move-up homebuyers, Idaho Housing provides Finally Home!, a home buyer education course that prepares students for the responsibility of homeownership. For Joshua, taking Finally Home! gave him a clear, unbiased understanding of what it means to be a homeowner.

“I really enjoyed having dedicated time to think about the big picture,” Joshua said. “This is what it takes to buy a home, here’s everything it entails; if you can’t do these things, you probably shouldn’t buy a home. It didn’t scare you into getting a home right away. They want you to be sure it’s something you can do.”

Empowered by homebuyer education and down payment assistance, Joshua closed on a home and began moving in earlier this year.   

Joshua has two recommendations for first-time buyers:

First, don’t bite off more than you can chew for your first home. “When I was looking for a home, I tried to go after the homes I really loved but couldn’t afford,” he said. “Being realistic is one of the most important things during the process.”

Second, if you’re feeling stuck financially, do some research and explore your options. Joshua said his conversations with Graybeal opened up opportunities that he didn’t think were possible. Oftentimes first-time homebuyers aren’t aware of all the financing options available to them; talking with a lender can help you better understand your options. It might end up being the difference between renting and owning, like it was for Joshua.

Helping homebuyers with their down payment

Stefanie and Bryan always dreamed of being homeowners, but saving up a down payment felt like a never-ending battle. Every time they began to build up their savings, life would happen – medical bills, unexpected expenses, childcare, etc. – quickly washing away their hard-earned cash. With two young kids to take care of, saving without sacrificing their quality of life was a constant struggle.

Their home-buying journey appeared to hit rock bottom when their property owner suddenly raised their rent and took away certain amenities. With even more of their stretched budget now going towards their living expenses, they asked themselves: How will we save for a down payment now?

While looking for a real estate attorney online to discuss their options, they connected with HomeFound Group co-founder and Boise REALTOR®, Michael Miller. They described their rental situation to Miller to see if he had any solutions.

Miller asked them, “Why rent when your monthly mortgage payment could be the same, if not less, than your rent?” A question that many Idahoans have found themselves asking as rents quickly climb across the state. Even if that were the case, the question for Stefanie and Bryan remained: How would they afford a down payment?

“Why rent when your monthly mortgage payment could be the same, if not less, than your rent?”

Miller introduced them to Idaho Housing’s down payment assistance program. Through this program, homebuyers can receive up to 10% of the home’s sales price to use towards a down payment and/or to assist with closing costs.

After learning about this program, Stefanie and Bryan quickly connected with a lender and got pre-approved. In February 2022, they became homeowners. Their monthly mortgage payment is now less than their rent.