There’s No Place Like (A New) Home

Doliviera and Angela Henry take advantage of a nonprofit program to buy their first home

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For the Henry family, paying rent was a ­no-win situation.

“We had to start building a future for ourselves, for our children, and that starts with owning, not just throwing money out the window with rent,” says first-time homebuyer Angela Henry.

In spite of falling property values and a depressing economic climate, Angela, 44, and her husband Doliviera, 43, remain optimistic about the long-term benefits of homeownership. They believe that owning a home will facilitate intergenerational wealth transfer for their three children: Donte, 15; Tatiana, 8; and Justin, 7.

The Henrys purchased their three-bedroom, one-bath ranch-style home in Copiague, New York for $204,000 last July. They were able to negotiate the price down from $212,990 saving them nearly $9,000. What’s even more remarkable is that they are only paying 1% interest on their 30-year-fixed loan using a unique mortgage product offered through the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), a nonprofit, community advocacy and homeownership organization that provides loans to low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers or subprime borrowers. To be eligible for the program potential homebuyers must attend a NACA workshop, and later occupy their home for as long as they have a mortgage through NACA. They must participate in at least five volunteer activities each year and applicants cannot own other property at the time they apply. There are no income requirements, however NACA has purchase price limits, and buyers must purchase within a NACA service area.

Securing a mortgage through NACA saved the Henrys thousands of dollars. These days, traditional mortgages require a 20% down payment. Borrowers who come up short are generally required to take out private mortgage insurance (PMI) until they establish 80% equity in the home. NACA mortgagers don’t pay (PMI), however members pay a $50 monthly membership fee, which is factored into their monthly mortgage payment. The fee is paid for five to 10 years (depending on the loan amount). Those funds become available if borrowers are ever at risk of losing their home.

NACA applicants aren’t required to put forward a down payment. Instead, members have the option of buying down their interest rate. The Henrys used $28,015 from Angela’s retirement account to buy down the rate from 4.65% to 1%—a monthly savings of nearly $400. They were also able to avoid some of the typical closing fees; the Henrys closing costs were just $3,713.

“For a little more than we were paying for rent we have a home with a yard,” says Angela of their monthly mortgage payment of $1,315.06, just $307 more than they were paying for a cramped two-bedroom apartment in Queens, New York.

Though NACA played a big role, the Henrys new home was also made possible by the family’s pledge to eliminate debt, develop a consistent savings pattern,  and create a fully loaded emergency fund. “You have to be realistic about what you can afford as well as what you can maintain,” says Doliviera, a materials management rep for the New York City Housing Authority. It also required an important step in their relationship. Although the couple had been married for nearly 10 years, they maintained separate bank accounts. “We knew that to build together, our finances needed to be consolidated,” says Angela, an order support clerk for the United States Postal Services. With a combined annual salary of $110,000, they opened a joint savings and a checking account in April and enrolled in online banking with an automatic bill payment option. The Henrys’ timing could not have been better. Since they had a signed contract before April 30, they qualified for the first-time homebuyers’ tax credit of $8,000. They plan to use the money to pay down the principal on their loan. “It was a process, but like anything else, if you want it there are steps that you have to take. It’s not just going to be handed to you,” says Doliviera.

THE HENRYS’ ADVICE
• There is no “I” in team: I realized that combining finances was the only way things were going to work,” says Doliviera, who recommends weekly meetings with your spouse to hash out any unforeseen expenses and to anticipate new spending on the horizon. For couples who are not sure about combining their finances Doliviera recommends Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs (Integrity Publishers; $22.99) by  Emerson Eggerichs.

•  Work with Professionals: “Being a member of NACA far outweighs anything. Besides all the money you save it’s so beneficial to have all the knowledge that they give you,” says Angela. After attending NACA’s homebuyer workshop you are paired with a mortgage consultant who helps you prepare financially for homeownership. Their network of agents will help you to find a house and negotiate. NACA (www.naca.com; 888-302-NACA) also provides approved home inspectors, rehab assistance,  and a post-purchase counseling program.

• Choose the right neighborhood: Doliviera wanted to ensure that he and his family would be in a safe neighborhood with good schools and easy access to public transportation. By accessing websites such as www.mlsli.com and www.listingbook.com he was able to get a breakdown of the demographics of the neighborhood. Another online resource on everything from population demographics to weather patterns and crime statistics is www.City-Data.com.

ACROSS THE WEB
  • http://www.howard.edu Genevieve Nixon

    I am so proud and love you all so much!! Congratulations to my family!!  God has truly blessed you with the warmth of your own home!

    • Anji

      Thank you so very much, Jonvi!

  • Patricia D. Steele

    Congratulations on your new home. May the lord continue to bless and shelter you. I am so very happy for you. This blessing could not have happened to a more derserving family. Love you much.

    • Anji

      Thanks, cuz! Knowing that we have family that is truly happy for us is inded a blessing. Congrats to you, also, on your new home purchase. All the best!

  • Natalie Greenwood

    God help those that help themselves! All the efforts, comittments and sacrifices that you both made have really paid off, this is such a blessing. The Henry family is well deserving of a peaceful and happy home where the heart is. Seeing your kids happy and comfortable is the biggest joy you could experience and to know you did that for them is awesome. I am truly happy and proud of you god bless luv always natz

    • Anji

      That is a truly touching post, Natalie. Thanks go out to you from the whole family. Thanks for being there to help when we needed you, thank you so much.

  • http://www.MyMangosteen.com/Saundra Willie (Dad) & Sandra (Mom) Fletcher

    WOW! Praise God! Your living is beautiful! It has been such a privilege to know you for these past six months. This article is living proof that the blessings have been left there for you and your Family to benefit. What an honor to know what God can do when we believe and trust Him. Much love and we’ll talk soon!

  • http://www.Vargas-Johnson.com Nancy Vargas-Johnson

    It was wonderful to work with you as you are a Great Family!! I am so blessed to have met you and have the opporunity to find the right home for your family. This means so much to me as I work hard to find the right match. All the best to you in your new home.

    Remember if you have anyone who needs help navigate the home buying process, tell them I bring home the KEYS!!! :)

    Your Realtor and CUZ, Nancy Vargas-Johnson

    • Anji

      Thank you, thank you, thank you Nancy for all your time, patience, diligence and professionalism. You made the home buying process sooo much more pleasant than Doliveira and I expected. You answered ALL of our questions, you even answered the ones we didn’t know to ask!! Now you know NACA inside and out and we just know that you will be a blessing to anyone who takes the steps to homeownership through NACA. Anyone that wants the BEST realtor in NY, you have to contact Nancy. We will be singing your praises for years to come! I know that we are truly blessed because our paths have crossed and you will forever be a part of our family.

    • Alice

      Hi Nancy,
      I am looking for a patient, diligent and professional buyer’s agent to help me find a home through the NACA program. Your help will be greatly appreciated. If you can help me search for a home in Queens, NY please e-mail me.

      Thanks so much,
      Smiley:)