Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation

Working together, building community

The Allston Brighton Homeownership Program down payment assistance program has been operating for over 6 months to help first-time homebuyers reach their goals of buying a home. Through this program, folks who are interested in purchasing a home in Allston Brighton can qualify for up to $50,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance! We spoke with Allston resident, Polly (she/her), who recently purchased her first home through this program to learn about some of the successes and challenges that she faced during her journey to homeownership.

 

What made you want to buy your first home?

I wanted to create more stability and predictability in my housing costs. Over the past year, rents have been going up rapidly. I didn’t want to be dependent on a landlord or superintendent anymore and wanted more independence to maintain my own place.

When I started thinking about buying my first home, I took a homebuying course through Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) a few years ago and started to understand that homeownership was more accessible and feasible for me. There are so many programs out there to help first time homebuyers! I also took a workshop with Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) and they spoke more about different down payment options. All of these different courses provided a lot of different background about funding options and these resource made the process seem less stressful. While taking these courses, I started to prepare myself financially through a lot of self-reflection and did some vetting of my own financial background. I wanted to set myself up for success when I started to take this process seriously.

I read a Boston Globe article and learned about the Allston Brighton Homeownership Program and took an info session with you (ABCDC) to learn more about the program. From there, I knew that I wanted to buy in Allston Brighton and apply for this program.

Why did you want to buy in Allston Brighton?

I was renting on Quint Avenue in Allston and I enjoyed living in the neighborhood. There is a strong arts and music scene in the community and there are places where I can bike that are more accessible. I love hanging out at Herter park by the river. There are also public transportation options so that I can easily get to work.

I’m also found it very interesting that the land where my new home was donated from Harvard. It was an industrial site before being developed. I’m excited to get to know my neighbors and start getting more involved in the community!

What was your experience buying a home through the Allston Brighton Homeownership program?

My new home was through a lottery, so the City of Boston required me to do a lot of paperwork. I also applied for down payment assistance and closing cost assistance through the Boston Home Center (BHC). Fortunately, some of the paperwork for the city and for closing cost assistance was the same. I wanted to make sure that I was eligible for this type of assistance to make sure that I set myself up for success to financially maintain the property.

After I won the homeownership lottery on my place, I had to start putting all of the pieces together before the closing. The process was a little anxiety-inducing because the BHC was not able to tell me the final amount of assistance that I was going to qualify for until right before the closing. Some of this was due to the timing of when my bank released monthly statements. This step was required to verify my eligibility. Luckily, I was able to receive $49K in assistance to purchase my home. This allowed me to save more money to hire movers and maintain my emergency fund.

Right before I closed on my home, I also worked with a home inspector who helped guide me in this process. Aside from finding a few little things which required fixing, he also highlighted things he thought the builders and electricians did very well. That gave me a more confidence in the property. They recommended some annual maintenance that I should do to help with upkeep at the property and appliances. Luckily, the home is new construction so this process was fairly simple.

How long did it take you to find a property?

The process to close on my home took around a year. I applied to the homeownership lottery in June of 2021 and I found out that I was a finalist in April of this year. I finally closed on my home at the end of June and I just moved in July! I had my heart set on this property but kept applying to other lotteries- some for Allston-Brighton and others throughout the city. I was a finalist for another property, however, I preferred to stay closer to Allston-Brighton so I declined.

I think that taking the homebuying classes was very helpful in explaining the homebuying process. Since I purchased my home through a lottery, I didn’t use a realtor and so I was looking for some advice about what to expect. I also had some guidance from friends who already had homes and my attorney also helped me understand the process with taxes. The BHC also helped me apply for other assistance programs which made the process less difficult.

What are the challenges you face as a homeowner?

I am still getting settled in my new home so I haven’t run into too many issues yet. I am more excited about the new condo and the benefits that come with it. I just made my first mortgage payment and it was slightly lower than my previous rent. My home is also a one bedroom as opposed to a studio, so I am enjoying having more space. The building is also an energy efficient property so my electric bill is lower and the home feels healthier overall. I also have an off-street parking spot for the first time so my bumpers can take a break! I’m looking forward to getting to know the other folks in my building and getting to know this area better.

How did it feel to complete the purchase?

I had a huge sense of relief when I closed on my home, and I also had a new sense of responsibility. I think that all of the prep work that I did was super helpful to make sure I was not overwhelmed. I thought about budgeting a lot so my mortgage payments would not feel daunting.

I’m appreciating the new sense of stability and I’m happy to know exactly what to expect with this new place. I’m also excited to put my own stamp on the space by painting and decorating.

Do you have any suggestions for prospective buyers?

There’s a lot that prospective homebuyers can do to set themselves up for success. It is super important to have access to bank statements and other documents online so that you can quickly respond to these requests. For example, I had access to the past three months of my bank statements and my retirement accounts so that I could easily provide this information.

A little bit of organization can go a long way. Create a system where you can keep track of everything easily.

Also remember that when you are budgeting, take into account that you may need to pay for your rent and mortgage at the same time for a while. This doesn’t always happen, but I had recently signed my lease when I found out that I was a finalist in the lottery for my condo. I was able to find someone to take over my lease, but it is helpful to include this in your budget just in case.

I would also recommend that people enroll in a Homebuying course. The workshops provided valuable information as well as referrals which helped when I was shopping around for my mortgage. Honestly, it was great to connect with others in the same position who were also navigating first time home buying. I also think it’s important to remember that people want you to succeed.

Always remember that you need to stay persistent! It can happen and it will happen- folks will get housing!

©Allston Brighton CDC | 18R Shepard Street, Suite 100 | Brighton, MA 02135 | p: 617.787.3874 | f: 617.787.0425