When Ryan and Teresa’s landlord told them that the townhome they were renting for seven years was going to be placed on the market, the couple knew it was time to make some big decisions. Their choices were to either move to a new rental and likely pay more for rent, or they could finally see if they could buy a home that their young boys, aged seven and three, could grow up in.
They decided to take the leap and see if they could buy a home.
After doing their research online to see what options existed for buyers who needed a little help, it was clear Santa Clara County’s Empower Homebuyers SCC program – which currently provides up to 17% down payment assistance on a market rate home that costs $1.1 million or less – was exactly what they needed. They asked a few friends if they heard about the program, and many did. In fact, one of the friends attended an Empower informational workshop and told them that it seemed like a great program worth pursuing.
The couple started the process of applying for the program in 2019, first taking the required Homebuyer Education class through Project Sentinel, then talking to a few approved lenders until deciding on Guild Mortgage, all the while saving for the 3% borrower’s contribution.
It wasn’t always a quick process submitting all their paperwork and signatures online during the pandemic, but the couple never gave up. “From scanning documents, printing, signing, and scanning again, it can be stressful,” said Ryan. “Thankfully, everyone at Housing Trust was super nice and helpful,” added Teresa.
The couple both grew up in the Bay Area, moving back and forth between San Jose and the East Bay. Ryan is a mechanic at a local college and Teresa was a pre-school teacher until the pandemic hit. With relatives in the area, they wanted to be able to stay in the region and found a condo in San Jose that was just right for them.
The family moved into their new home a few months ago. The boys each have their own room, and the youngest even claimed the garage as “My garage!” As they settle into their new home and a new routine, the family is enjoying walks around the neighborhood and getting to know other families with young kids around the same age as the boys.
What advice would Ryan and Teresa like to give to people interested in the program? “You need to take the risk. Not everyone can compete with people who can pay all cash for a home. This County program really helps make a difference. Don’t lose hope because if you really want to buy a home and go through the process, it’s all worth it. We couldn’t have done it without Housing Trust and the County.”