Category Archives: General Agency News

Lender Training Available This Fall

North Dakota Housing Finance Agency will host lender training in Bismarck and Fargo this fall.

“The training includes an introduction to NDHFA’s homeownership programs – FirstHome™, HomeAccess and North Dakota Roots, a review of the different loan types, borrower and property eligibility discussion, and how to lock a loan,” said Dave Flohr, NDHFA homeownership division director.

The course is open to new and pending participating lender staff, and current participating lender staff who are interested in a refresher.

The trainings will be held on Oct. 4 at the Comfort Inn, 1030 E Interstate Ave, Bismarck; and Nov.1 at the Expressway Suites, 4303 17th Ave S, Fargo. Both training sessions will begin at 9:00 a.m. CDT and should be completed no later than 1:00 p.m. There are no registration fees, however pre-registration is required.

Discounted sleeping rooms are available at the Comfort Inn, (701) 223-1911; or Expressway Inn, (701) 239-4303, by asking for the “ND Housing” block. Rate is $81.90 for a single or $100 for a double.

If you have questions about the training, contact Dave Flohr at (800) 292-8621 or hfainfo@nd.gov.

From the Director, August 2017

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

So often in our work, we use the term “affordable housing” and equally as often, we get the question about what that means.

Affordability is traditionally defined as spending no more than 30 percent of your income on housing costs. It is enshrined in nearly all of the programs we deal with and it is the best objective measure that we have available to us. We have to set the standard somewhere and it is easier for policymakers and the public to understand the number of households who are challenged if we can talk about it in consistent terms like “affordable” or “cost burdened.”

In all reality, affordability is very subjective. Each individual, family or household has a unique set of circumstances, income and expenses. Household budget decisions are influenced by many factors and while we like to think of housing costs as first priority, sometimes they have pretty stiff competition. Spending 30 percent on housing costs may be affordable for one household but not another that may have higher child care or healthcare costs. Affordability changes as life goes on as well – what was out of reach at one point in your life may be much more easily attained later. Or, for example, seniors may be able to afford housing costs when they are working, but it is a harder pull when they are living on a fixed income.

What can be confusing in understanding “affordable housing” is that while affordability is achieved at a personal level in any kind of housing, we use the term to talk about publicly-funded projects and programs. We call them affordable housing developments or discuss the importance of affordable housing resources. While there are other terms that have been used to talk about these types of projects – low-income, subsidized, rent-restricted, income-restricted, etc. – I like to use “affordable housing” because it spells out more clearly what we are trying to achieve. The mission of NDHFA is to make housing affordable for all North Dakotans and affordability is the main goal behind all of our programs.

We aren’t in the business of just giving out free money; we expect that if a project is going to take public funds than the public needs to see a benefit for it for the duration that is set out from the beginning. That benefit is affordability. It is the driver behind program rules and regulations and why we continuously monitor compliance of housing projects. We have been charged to be stewards of a precious resource and, while we also strive to be flexible and understanding of changing market conditions, we have to uphold our obligations and expect our housing partners to as well.

It would be incredible if one day we could say everyone can afford their housing costs on their own, but I know there will always be individuals and families in need for a multitude of reasons that are as unique as each of us. NDHFA aims to do what it can and we appreciate your partnership in achieving “affordable housing.”

Affordable Multifamily Housing Development Assistance Available

BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency is currently accepting applications for approximately $3.75 million in development assistance through the Housing Incentive Fund, a state program that strengthens communities by providing rental housing for essential service workers and low- to moderate-income households

HIF Invest in Your Community“Priority will be given to applicants that demonstrate both the need for the affordable housing units and the support of the community in which the project is located,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

The HIF program support is available due to the cancellation of previous financial commitments.

NDHFA is currently accepting applications for two federal development programs as well – the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and the National Housing Trust Fund. LIHTCs provide an incentive for the production or rehabilitation of low-income housing. The purpose of the HTF is to increase and preserve the supply of housing for extremely low-income households.

Applications must be received by 5 p.m. (CDT) on Sept. 29, 2017. More information is available online or by contacting the agency’s planning and housing development division staff at (800) 292-8621 or hfainfo@nd.gov.

NDHFA is a public financial institution dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Gov. Doug Burgum, as the chairman, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, oversees the agency.

Fugere Joins Housing Agency’s Homeownership Division

Amy Fugere

BISMARCK, ND – Amy Fugere of Bismarck, ND, was recently hired by North Dakota Housing Finance Agency. The state agency helps low- to moderate-income North Dakotans achieve homeownership by providing down payment and closing cost assistance, and affordable mortgage loans.

A homeownership specialist, Fugere will work primarily in mortgage acquisition, reviewing loan applications and communicating with participating lenders to ensure compliance with program standards. As needed, Fugere will assist with borrower services.

“Amy’s lending background makes her an excellent addition to both the homeownership origination and servicing teams,” said Jolene Kline, the agency’s executive director.

Prior to coming to work at NDHFA, Fugere worked at Capital Credit Union as an underwriter and at Gate City Bank as a loan officer.

The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Governor Doug Burgum, as the chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees NDHFA. For more information on the agency’s homeownership programs, contact NDHFA at (800) 292-8621 or hfainfo@nd.gov.

From the Director, June 2017

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

Summer is always a busy time of year in North Dakota and for the housing industry this year isn’t any different.

While new home construction remains well off the record pace we saw just a few years ago, we are seeing more activity under NDHFA’s homeownership programs. Year-to-date through May, our flagship FirstHome™ program is up by 55 loans over 2016. That may not sound like a lot, but it amounts to about $10.4 million more in loans that we’ve purchased this year than last. That signals to me that as price increases have moderated, more people are taking advantage of the opportunity to become homeowners.

This was part of the economic playbook all along. As supply and demand reached equilibrium, those who had been shut out would again be able to enter the market. For many, though, the down payment assistance offered through NDHFA makes all the difference. In 2016, more than 80 percent of the borrowers using our programs also utilized this important resource. I expect that we will continue to see that trend this year and into the future.

Our partners know better than anyone that the past decade has been chock full of ups and downs, challenges and opportunities. In the case of a lot of first-time homebuyers, for everything in their favor, it seemed like there was something against them – interest rates were low, but prices were higher; new construction meant there were more homes on the market, but the competition was fierce. While things may have slowed down from the white hot housing market a few years ago, the people NDHFA loans are targeted at have benefited. The more people we can get into reasonable and affordable homeownership, the better off and more sustainable our communities and state will be.

Our main goal at NDHFA is to provide access to housing resources for the people who need it most. We can’t do that without our private sector partners and I want to express my deepest appreciation to you for making June Homeownership Month – and every month – a great time to buy a home.

Federal Affordable Housing Development Resources Available

BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency is currently accepting applications for two federal affordable housing development programs.

HTFLIHTCAPPS2“Through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and Housing Trust Fund programs, we are able to help address the housing needs of our state’s lowest income residents, ensuring these vulnerable individuals and families have a safe place to call home,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

LIHTCs provide an incentive for the production or rehabilitation of low-income housing. Developers awarded credits sell them to raise equity capital from investors, reducing the debt required to produce, preserve or rehabilitate a property. The reduced costs make it possible for the developer to rent to households earning 60 percent or less than Area Median Income.

The purpose of the HTF is to increase and preserve the supply of housing for extremely low-income households, those earning less than 30 percent of AMI, including homeless families. These program dollars can be used for the production, preservation, rehabilitation and operation of a property. HTF financial awards are structured as forgivable zero-interest loans.

Eligible recipients of these program resources include units of local, state and tribal government; local and tribal housing authorities; community action agencies; regional planning councils; nonprofit organizations; and for-profit developers.

The program plans and applications are available online at www.ndhfa.org or by contacting NDHFA at (800) 292-8621. The deadline for submission is Sept. 29, 2017.

NDHFA is a public financial institution dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. The North Dakota Industrial Commission, consisting of Governor Doug Burgum as chairman, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, oversees the agency.

What’s Right for You?

Gena_Teresa_together

FirstHome program user Teresa Sayler (right) relied heavily on Gena Syvertson (left) of REMAX Legacy Realty to find the right home and negotiate the terms of the sale.

While many young adults wait until they are married or involved in a long-term relationship before pursuing homeownership, Teresa Sayler knew having her own home was what she wanted.

Sayler moved to Fargo, ND, for college and stayed on after graduation. She lived in apartments for a dozen years, a situation that to her always felt temporary. At 30 years of age, Sayler was ready to be grounded.

Turns out while buying on her own was a little nerve racking, “I had to remind myself to take things one step at a time,” Sayler isn’t alone in following that path. After married couples, the National Association of Realtors ranks single women, age 18 to 34, as the second largest home buying group in the United States making up 15 percent or more of the market each year.

“Single females often are heading out of their own at an earlier age to establish their households,” says Jessica Lautz, NAR’s managing director of survey research and communications. Men purchase on their own half as often.

Taking full advantage of available resources helped Sayler ease her solo purchase anxiety. In addition to taking a homebuyer education class, she talked to a financial advisor and took a class focused on budgeting, paying down debt and building savings. Sayler also visited with family and friends to learn about their experiences. When she was confident that she was really ready, Sayler sat down with a lender.

Clayton Lilleby of First Community Credit Union pre-qualified Sayler for North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s FirstHome™ program and referred her to the person she relied on heavily to find the right home and negotiate the terms of the sale, Gena Syvertson of REMAX Legacy Realty.

A real estate agent for more than a dozen years, Syvertson has a soft spot for first-time buyers. She enjoys educating them, stepping them through the purchase process, and making sure they understand the terms being used. She reminds them to ask questions too so they are comfortable with the decisions they are making.

Teresa_saw

While Teresa Sayler isn’t afraid of taking on home improvement projects, her real estate agent encouraged her to have a home inspection and include an inspection clause in the purchase agreement so if major repairs were needed, they could be addressed before closing. Doing so gave Sayler peace of mind that her new home would be structurally sound.

“Before looking at any homes,” said Syvertson, “Teresa and I sat down and we talked about home features she really needed versus things she might want to have and what the tradeoffs might be.”

Initially, Sayler wasn’t interested in a twin home, but she knew she wanted an attached garage to better endure North Dakota’s cold winters. A large outdoor space was another priority, so she could have a garden, more privacy, and have friends over to sit around a firepit on summer evenings.

Helping Sayler narrow down her list of must-haves and understand the improvements that could be made after a home was hers really helped. “I only physically looked at about four or five homes before I found one that I made an offer on,” Sayler said.

While Sayler wasn’t afraid of taking on some projects, Syvertson encouraged her to have a home inspection and include an inspection clause in the purchase agreement so if major repairs were needed, they could be addressed before closing. Doing so gave Sayler peace of mind that her new home would be structurally sound.

While Sayler now takes pride in being a homeowner, she’s only talked to a few friends about buying. When the subject comes up, she doesn’t immediately push them into homeownership.

“If they think it’s what they want, I encourage them to educate themselves, to talk to a real estate agent and make sure their finances are in order. Don’t buy a home just because everyone else is. Forget about everything you see on Pinterest, and what your family and friends are saying and doing, is it right for you?”