Tag Archives: HomeAccess

Housing Agency Wraps Up Record-Breaking Year

BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) is wrapping up a record-breaking year. The state agency, known primarily for the affordable financing it offers through its FirstHome™ program, set a production record in 2018 by purchasing 1,798 loans with a total value of more than $300 million.

“If the increased activity is indicative of more young families, both those new to North Dakota and life-long residents, pursuing homeownership, that’s good for all of North Dakota because homeowners are typically more invested in their community than renters,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

NDHFA’s loan production was 134 percent higher in 2018 than the previous year. Activity peaked in May when NDHFA received 246 reservations for $41.5 million in financing. The agency’s staff attributes some of the increased demand to the interest rates it was able to offer this past year.

“A favorable market for the mortgage-revenue bonds that fund our FirstHome program allowed NDHFA to offer financing for most of the year at a rate that was lower than what was available in the conventional marketplace,” said Dave Flohr, NDHFA homeownership division director.

“The one-half of one percent or more rate difference results in significant savings on monthly payments.”This past year, two-thirds of FirstHome program users also utilized the down payment and closing cost assistance NDHFA offers. “The assistance allows first-time buyers to enter the market sooner or to retain their savings for household expenses they didn’t have as renters like purchasing a lawn mower or snow blower,” said Flohr.

The purchase price of single-family homes financed through NDHFA’s FirstHome program cannot exceed $271,164 to $303,882, depending on household size and the county in which the property is located. The average FirstHome loan purchased in 2018 was just under $166,000. The program is available to state residents earning up to $98,900 who have not owned a home in the last three years. The average FirstHome borrower’s household income in 2018 was $58,600.

In addition to the FirstHome loans NDHFA purchased, the agency’s production total for the year includes its HomeAccess loans, a program for special needs households who may have previously owned a home, and North Dakota Roots, a program that assists moderate-income buyers who may have previously owned a home and first-time buyers whose income exceeds the FirstHome program limits.

In an average year, NDHFA purchases 1,200 loans. Private-sector lenders originate loans on the agency’s behalf in communities statewide and sell them to NDHFA when the loans close. Currently, 47 financial institutions across the state are partnered with the agency to offer its financing. The greatest overall program use is in Cass and Burleigh/Morton counties.

NDHFA is a self-supporting state agency dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Governor Doug Burgum as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees the agency. More information about NDHFA’s homeownership programs is available online at www.ndhfa.org.

New Home, New Memories

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Lisa Macdonald and her son.

In 2002, Lisa and Mark Macdonald built their dream home just south of Bismarck. It was a larger home with a big yard. They loved their neighborhood and being close to an elementary school for their two children who were four and seven years old at the time.

After many happy years, the family’s life was turned upside down when Mark unexpectedly passed away in 2014.

“After my husband passed away, we lost our main source of income,” Macdonald said.

Knowing that the size and cost of maintaining a large home would be difficult without Mark, Lisa’s family encouraged her to sell the house. She agreed and put the home on the market not long after Mark’s death. However after months of contracts falling through, Lisa was discouraged and decided to contact Debby Wisdom at Dakota Community Bank to refinance in hopes of reducing monthly expenses.

“My kids weren’t ready to move and I was tired of having the house on the market,” Macdonald said.

Over the winter, Lisa thought more about selling the house. She knew she couldn’t afford it on her own and was worried about keeping up the yard without Mark.

In the spring, with her children’s blessing, the Macdonald home again went on the market and Lisa went back to Dakota Community Bank to prequalify for a loan to purchase a smaller place. This time, the house sold within four days and Lisa found a new home that same weekend.

“I knew Lisa through helping her with refinancing,” Wisdom said. “She wanted to find a smaller home with a more manageable yard. I went over some financing options with her and HomeAccess was a really good fit. Whenever I’m working with a single parent, my immediate thought is HomeAccess.”

With the help of lending partners statewide, North Dakota Housing Finance Agency, provides affordable home financing to low- to moderate-income families.  While NDHFA’s FirstHome™ program is specifically for those who have never owned a home, the HomeAccess program was created in 2006 to provide reduced interest rate loans to single-parent, veteran, disabled or elderly households who were previous homeowners.

Borrowers who use the HomeAccess program must meet the same income standards as FirstHome and the purchase price of the home must be within program limits.  Borrowers also have to meet normal credit underwriting standards and occupy the home as their principal residence.

This summer, Lisa’s daughter went off to college while Lisa and her son moved into the new house. It still provides plenty of room for everyone to be together, but it will be more manageable for Lisa on her own.

“My favorite thing about my new home is that I know this is going to be where my grandchildren are going to visit me years from now,” Macdonald said.  “There were so many bittersweet memories in our old house. Here I feel like we can move on as a family and make great new memories.”