From the Director, August 2014

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

Homeownership for moderate-income households isn’t always an easy feat to accomplish these days in North Dakota. There are a number of factors that converge on these buyers. Current owners have benefitted from very low interest rates on refi’s in the last few years which make them less apt to “move up” and open up entry level homes. Together with wage growth, rapidly increasing housing prices and starter homes that are snatched up within hours of listing, it makes for an exciting, but challenging housing market.

All of that is what prompted the Agency to take another look at one of our programs.

The North Dakota Roots program was started in 2002 as a way to entice people to come to the state. It began at a time when North Dakota had seen decades of declining population with occasional fits and starts of economic activity. The program had been limited to new workers to the state and required them to make their home purchase within their first year of residency.

Roots had modest activity but the parameters limited its reach. With the changes North Dakota has seen in the last 12 years, we knew the program had a bigger and more important role to play. The expanded program, which is now open to any moderate-income household, will offer additional opportunities for individuals and families to get into affordable homeownership. Sometimes down payments and closing costs can be hindrances for buyers and now non-first time homebuyers can qualify for assistance with those expenses through this program.

We think Roots has a lot of potential to help people but it is our participating lenders and real estate agent partners who will make the biggest difference in bringing the program to new customers. I know that they share our goal to help people be successful in homeownership – when that happens, we all win. We are excited about the prospects and, of course, are always here to assist our partners with information and support.

In so many of the reports and studies that have come out of North Dakota over the past few years, affordable single family homeownership that will allow workers to make this their home has been identified as a top issue. While we can’t make land, labor or materials any cheaper to build new homes, what we can do is help a sector that doesn’t qualify for low-income programs but is challenged in meeting their goals to be long-term citizens. Helping to meet the housing challenges of all North Dakotans is NDHFA’s mission and I know that Roots will be a big step in that direction.

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