Attainable Homes helps Calgarians make ownership dream a reality
Attainable Homes Calgary Corporation celebrated its 800th homeowner on June 7 through its non-profit down-payment assistance program started in 2009.
Launched by the City of Calgary to help retain integral professionals in the city despite a growing housing affordability gap, the program removes barriers for potential homeowners in a variety of circumstances.
Whether it’s newcomers to Canada making a fresh start, young couples putting off marriage and children until they own a home, or individuals uncertain they can achieve ownership on their own, the organization has helped ease families into home ownership.
Through its three-step process, Calgarians with a combined income under $90,000 per year require only $2,000 towards their down payment. The organization assists with the remainder.
For Maya Teodoro, Attainable Homes opened the door to homeownership much sooner than she ever dreamed. After moving to Canada from the Philippines in 2008 and gaining permanent residency in 2013, Maya was able to welcome her husband, Anthony, and daughter, Sophia, to Calgary. But renting proved challenging and the family moved often, with Sophia changing schools frequently as a result. Juggling shift work to care for their daughter made saving for a down payment difficult.
Step one: get in touch
In the spring of 2016, when a friend purchased through Attainable Homes, Teodoro quickly visited the organization’s website to research the program.
“I went into their office, and the whole process was completed within a month,” she said. “From the very beginning, their staff and partners were so friendly and ensured I understood everything very clearly.”
Step two: get educated
When clients want to learn more about the program, they attend a one-time education session. Completed in the office through either a self-directed computer presentation or in a group setting offered by one of the program facilitators, information sessions are offered twice a day, Monday through Saturday.
“We take educating our clients very seriously,” said Jennifer McCarron, communications and marketing manager at Attainable Homes. “Buying a home can be very intimidating, especially when it’s a first home purchase. The sharing of all this knowledge makes that process less daunting.”
“I went into their office, and the whole process was completed within a month. From the very beginning, their staff and partners were so friendly and ensured I understood everything very clearly.” – Maya Teodoro
Step three: get your mortgage
Buyers are then connected with partner lenders or mortgage brokers who fully understand the mechanisms of the program. While it is not mandatory that buyers ultimately use the partner lenders or lawyers to make their purchase, this step offers additional home-buying education to clients.
“We value the knowledge our lending partners bring to the program. They help ensure our clients understand how our purchase contracts differ from those in the conventional market,” said McCarron.
A house becomes a home
Once the buyer is in their new home, Attainable Homes remains on the title with them, but the buyer operates independently. The new homeowner may reside in their home as long as they wish, and upon selling, a portion of their home’s appreciation is retained according to their participation percentage.
The longer a client lives in their home, the more appreciation value they’ll retain upon selling, up to a maximum of 75 per cent.
Teodoro and her family have been in their home since last October. For the first time, Sophia, now nine years old, has her very own room.
“We were so excited, especially for Sophia,” said Teodoro. “Now that she’s in fourth grade, it was amazing to tell her, ‘you don’t have to transfer schools every year anymore!’ She was just so excited.”
This month, Teodoro and her husband will host their parents from the Philippines for the first time, now that they finally have enough space.
“Everything just feels so different when you know it’s your own house,” she said.