Like a lot of homeowners, Madi Johnson’s journey to homeownership began at NeighborWorks Home Partners – but not in the way you might expect. After graduating from college, Madi started out her career by working for a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA in the organization. She didn’t have any experience with homeownership.
Her role as a VISTA was to help prepare some training for potential customers. To learn about the services NeighborWorks offered, she decided to experience them herself. She scheduled a pre-purchase advising appointment where she was surprised to learn that homeownership wasn’t as far away as she’d first assumed.
“I found out that I didn’t need a 20% down payment, but I could in fact do a loan where I would just have to do 3.5% down,” she said. “I had no idea that I didn’t need to save for years and years.”
Part of the pre-purchase advising experience is identifying wants and needs in a home. Madi decided that she wanted a space that would allow her to develop her hobbies and passions, and support the way that she wanted to live as a member of a community. “This ability to use a home to meet these goals is what kindled both my awareness that I wanted it, and the drive to make it happen.”
Madi had three “must-haves” on her list: “One was a space to have a garden. That was number one – it was non-negotiable,” she said. “Two was a big, open space to have members of my community and my friends over for dinner, and then the third was a space to hold my loved ones in periods of transition.”
Madi’s home search was kicked into gear when she began looking at homes online and found one that she loved. That’s when she looked more seriously into applying for a mortgage. But that inspiration home sold before she could make an offer.
After a couple more months of looking, she toured a home and knew immediately that she would make an offer. It had everything on her must-have list, including a large living room/dining room combination that will eventually allow her to host big meals with neighbors and friends.
After a season in her new home, Madi has turned most of her backyard into the garden that she has always wanted. She also has used her home as a place to further develop her passion for food sovereignty, which for her included adding a flock of chickens to her household.
She has also decided to make some improvements. She contacted NeighborWorks again to find out about home improvement funds. She was able to secure a loan in order to do work on both the roof and the windows.
“I found myself not only getting their support to buy the house, but almost immediately after, they were able to provide a home improvement loan,” Madi said. The loan is like a godsend because it would have been a real struggle to immediately make these repairs after spending all my money on the house.”
Madi also mentioned the fantastic neighbors that surround her. This was a part of homeownership that she didn’t anticipate.
“Neighbors are so great!” she remarked. “And I just kind of forgot that like, actually being adopted into this community is also part of what you get when you buy a home.”
When asked about her journey, Madi had some advice to give to other first-time homebuyers.
“Honestly, if I hadn’t gotten a pre purchase advising appointment with NeighborWorks, I really would not have known that it was not some distant dream,” she said. “So, I really think everyone should start with an appointment, even if they believe they have too much student debt or not enough savings, or their credit isn’t good enough. Because it’s not just about being in a really good place. It’s about making a plan to be in that good place, and it’s better to know what your options are.”
She advised “don’t think it’s not possible where you’re at. Because homeownership is possible. Maybe earlier than you’d expect, and it may in fact be possible for you now.”
If you are interested in a pre-purchase advising appointment, contact us to get started.
About the Author:
I have a passion for housing and I am very excited to get involved in the meaningful work that NeighborWorks Home Partners is doing within the Twin Cities. I am currently a student at the University of St. Thomas studying both Justice and Peace Studies and Sociology. In my free time I enjoy listening to podcasts and cooking with my roommates.