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Women and Homeownership

Homeownership for women hasn’t always been an easy path.

It wasn’t until the Married Women’s Property Act nearly 140 years ago in Ontario that women were allowed to legally purchase property on their own.

Since then, women have gained many rights in Canada—but even in this day and age, homeownership can still present some unique challenges for women.

Finances

Inflation inhibits the ability to save for a down payment, but for women there can be another key factor.

Women are often paid less than men for jobs where they hold the same title.

To bring awareness to this issue, International Equal Pay Day was formed to highlight the wage discrepancies.

While not every industry is faced with a pay gap, many still have a ways to go.

The difference in income impacts a woman’s capacity to save for a down payment, and makes homeownership more difficult to attain.

Single Parenthood

Co-parenting your kids after a divorce is quite common these days.  

But, in times where that is not the case, the percentage of single-mother households is higher than single-father households.

“In 2016, 81.3% of children aged 0 to 14 in lone‑parent families were living with their mother, and 18.7% were living with their father.” (Source: Stats Canada)

While the number of single-father households is on the rise, women are still the primary caregivers in these situations.

As a single parent, homeownership is even more financially daunting.

There are subsidies available for parents, but they do not cover the entire cost of childcare or basic needs.

The ability to pay all your credit cards on time—and in-full—proves to be much more challenging under the circumstance of having to provide for a family.

Missing payments on credit cards or holding a high balance can also decrease a credit score, and in turn decreases the ability to apply for a home.

Lower Qualifying Ratio

In Canada, homebuyers are subject to mortgage debt service ratio calculations (GDSR and TDSR).

Both of these calculations use gross annual income as part of the equation to determine whether someone can qualify for a mortgage.

With monthly utility bills and household costs on the rise, a lower income due to the wage gap for women creates an even further barrier to homeownership.

Although women face unique obstacles on the path to becoming homeowners, there are alternatives to help make this dream become a reality sooner.

Our EP Homes program gives everyday people with 0% down the opportunity to pursue the path to homeownership.

The program allows you to save for a down payment while benefitting from our complimentary financial coaching provided by industry experts.


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Black Communities in Canada

Black communities across Canada have helped shape the neighborhoods in our towns, cities, provinces and territories.

They have been home to some of Canada’s most legendary musicians, engineers, politicians, athletes, entrepreneurs, artists and activists.

In honour of Black History Month, we’ve put together a list of some of the most prominent Black communities to discover and celebrate their influence on Canadian culture.


Amber Valley

Amber Valley is an Albertan farming community approximately 160 km north of Edmonton.

It was founded in 1910 by Black Americans escaping the violence and racial hostility of the US in the 20th century.

Originally called Pine Creek, and later renamed Amber Valley in 1931, the town was home to nearly 300 Black community members.

“Among the settlers who established the community were the Bowen, Sneed, Murphy and Edwards families.

Jefferson (J.D.) Edwards and his wife Martha were two of the first people from Oklahoma to settle in Amber Valley.  

Willis and Jean Bowen and their children were originally from Oklahoma. In 1909, they settled in Vancouver. They moved to Amber Valley in 1912.

One (of the Bowen’s grandchildren), Oliver Bowen, was an engineer. He went on to design and construct the city of Calgary’s light rail system, also known as the CTrain.”
(Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia)


Little Burgundy

Historically referred to as the “Harlem of the North”, Little Burgundy was once a prominent Black community in Montreal.

Formally enslaved Black Americans fled to Canada with some finding employment on the railway stations.

“(Little Burgundy’s) proximity to two railway stations attracted Black men who worked as train porters when it was the best of the low-paying jobs available to them.

That history gave birth to a unique Black community along with a vibrant Canadian jazz scene and thriving Black institutions which continued to thrive until the community was torn about in the name of urban renewal beginning in the mid-1960s.

(Though the neighbourhood has been through gentrification) new generations are reclaiming the rich history left behind.” (Source: CBC)


Africville

“Africville was a primarily Black community located on the south shore of the Bedford Basin, on the outskirts of Halifax.

The first records of a Black presence in Africville date back to 1848, and it continued to exist for 150 years after that.

Over that time, hundreds of individuals and families lived there and built a thriving, close‐knit community.

There were stores, a school, a post office and the Seaview United Baptist Church, which was Africville’s spiritual and social centre.” (Source: Canadian Museum for Human Rights)


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The Canadian Housing Market in 2023

The Bank of Canada had a significant impact on the Canadian Housing Market this year.

Their goal to lower inflation resulted in several rate increases throughout 2022 making the dream of homeownership more difficult to achieve for some.

Many millennials, families new to Canada and self-employed Canadians are trying to figure out what their homeownership journey will look like in 2023.

We’ve researched what some of the experts are saying to try and give you an idea of what the Canadian Housing Market in 2023 might resemble.  


The Canadian Real Estate Association’s (CREA) senior economist, Shaun Cathcart, broke down how he foresees the Canadian Housing Market in 2023 in an interview.

Shaun stated that “… as far as getting back to “normal”, the (biggest) question for housing markets is not as much where the top (interest rate) will be, how long it will stay there, or when will rates start coming back down?”

He continued to say that the focus for 2023 for future homeowners will be, “when will rates be back at lower levels?”

Shaun’s projections also touched on what the Bank of Canada’s path forward may look like.

He mentioned, “the Bank (of Canada) doesn’t say what they think the path for interest rates will look like, but they do have a forecast for inflation, and inflation is what guides their interest rate decisions.”

“They currently project inflation will be back at around 3% (year-over-year) by the end of 2023 and to fully return to the 2% target by the end of 2024.”

Home prices

Deciding when the best time to buy a home can be a tricky question.

According to a Global News article, RBC’s assistant chief economist, Robert Hogue, stated that “with the slowing pace of decline in both home sales and prices, there are ‘early signs the correction is approaching its final stage’.”

“He said prices could eventually hit a low point in ‘the early part of 2023’, but cautioned the timing would vary from market to market.”

“Hogue suggested this bottoming out would coincide with the Bank of Canada stabilizing its benchmark interest rate—the central bank signaled in December it could be near the end of its hiking cycle—and that for those looking to break into the market, this might be where affordability is best in the year for prospective buyers.”

Homeownership in 2023

While these projections may give a glimpse into an end in sight for rate increases, they cannot confirm if, or when, they will go down back down.

For those that are ready to start the homeowner journey, or are simply unable to stay in the rental market, the Bridge to Homeownership™ Program (BTHO) might be for you.

Our program offers newly-built and like-new homes in the all of Alberta..

We strive to make a meaningful positive impact in the community by giving everyday people who have the mindset to be homeowners an opportunity they otherwise wouldn’t have.

If you have zero down payment, are new to Canada with no established credit history or are self-employed, we may be able to help you on your homeownership journey.


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Team Spotlight: Jay

At EP Financial, people are at the heart of everything we do.

We are passionate about helping our clients be their best financial selves and our team be their best selves at work.

Our people are talented in their fields and gain hands-on entrepreneurial experience by bringing new financial products and concepts to life, every day.

At the core of our EP Homes division is none other than our Property Manager, Jay.

Meet Jay


Jay joined the EP team with a combined 15 years of experience in both commercial and residential property management.

As the Property Manager for EP Homes, Jay interacts with our Bridge to Homeownership™ clients on a daily basis and is always there to lend a helping hand.

A typical day for him consists of producing reports in the morning, going through client lists, scheduling home visits with clients, assisting with any operational system changes, and gathering information and analysis for system development.

Where it all started

Jay’s previous experience was in commercial property management for nearly 15 years. Looking for a new challenge, he jumped into residential property management four years ago.

When asked what the main difference between commercial and residential property management is, Jay believes you have to be more personable and flexible in your communication style in order to relate to your clients.

In commercial property management, there wasn’t as much fluctuation with clientele, so everyone had a mutual understanding of what needs to be done from both the client and the property management side.

 


Highlights and challenges

Jay has certainly experienced some highlights throughout his career at EP Homes.

But his biggest highlight is always when he receives feedback from the clients through emails, and sometimes even thank you cards.

Nothing makes him happier than building a rapport with each client and knowing they had a positive experience with EP Homes.

“… if you address something with Jay or Roselem, they will address (the issue) right away”

– The Estrellas


While there are many highlights of the job, it doesn’t come without some challenges.

For example, there are times when clients struggle with understanding the terms of the lease like permitting property management home inspections throughout the year, so warranty issues can be captured.

These moments can be challenging, but Jay always approaches them with a positive attitude and never ceases to get the job done.

Life at home

When not at the office, Jay (also known as Jay T or JayJay) spends his time with his wife and kids, and enjoys making dinner for everyone.

He tries to do something healthy every day, whether it’s making a smoothie, going to the gym, playing tennis or simply taking a walk.

When he’s not spending time with his family or doing something healthy, Jay watches his favourite sports teams, the Lakers or the Knicks.

Unbeknownst to some, Jay is also a skilled carpenter—and while he loves music, he claims that music does not love him.

On Sundays, Jay starts his morning with a cup of coffee and makes his rounds to friends and family members to mow their lawns or shovel their walks.

So, it’s no wonder that when asked who he would change places with for a day, Jay replied, “Keanu Reeves”—a kind and humble guy whom he admires both as an actor and person.

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Home Warranty

Home warranty is mandatory for all newly built homes in Alberta, but what does that mean?

The Alberta New Home Warranty Program covers work done on your new-build home and the material used.

The duration of the warranty depends on the types of defects; which are broken down into 1, 2, 5 and 10-year warranties.

To help you identify what is covered and for how long, we’ve made a list. 

1-year

Under the New Home Buyer Protection Act, the Government of Alberta requires a “minimum warranty coverage on all new homes constructed in Alberta.”

The 1-Year Home Warranty covers labour and materials concerning how your home was built and which materials were used.

According to the Government of Alberta website, items included under this warranty are defects relating to “flooring, staircases, baseboards, cabinets, railing and other trim and fixtures.”

2-year

The 2-Year Home Warranty addresses defects with materials and labour related to both delivery and distribution systems.

It referring to, “electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning” according to the Government of Alberta website.

These systems are also referred to as building systems.

5-year

The 5-Year Home Warranty covers building envelope defects.

This system is composed of materials and labour pertaining to components that “separate the controlled interior air from the exterior,” as per the Alberta New Home Warranty Program.

What does this refer to exactly?

The defects covered are the roof and exterior walls which include the siding of your home, windows and doors.

But, there are some variables when it comes to doors and windows.

Hardware for doors and windows i.e: latches and weatherizing are covered for a year under materials and labour—however, if the rough openings are compromised, that would be warrantied as building envelope.

10-year

The 10-Year Home Warranty is for structural coverage.

This includes the frame and foundation of your home, but excludes drywall.

Other areas

While the warranties above apply to Alberta, it is important to keep in mind that different regions within Canada have varying coverage.

According to the Homeowner Protection Act and regulations, new homes built in B.C. by licensed residential builders must be covered by mandatory, third-party home warranty insurance.

-BC Housing

Renovation warranty

Recently, the Bridge to Homeownership™ Program has expanded to include like-new homes providing our clients with another alternative path to homeownership.  

The renovations to each home vary depending on the type of enhancements required—however, EP Homes will only work with contractors whose subcontractors guarantee a 1-year material and labour warranty.

These subcontractors are composed of other trades that specialize in their area i.e. drywallers, carpenters, painters, etc..

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Rental Market Challenges

In recent months, rental market challenges have increased for many.    

The demographic of renters is large including those that are new to Canada, young professionals, students, and others who are unable to become homeowners through traditional financing.

While some choose to stay in the rental market, others have had plans of homeownership delayed with the recent interest rate increases. This has caused several rental-market challenges and led many to deal with unpleasant rental obstacles.

1. Rental Market Flooding

The increase in interest rates has slowed down the house-buying market, while significantly increasing the competition for rental properties.  This is contributed to a major strain on the amount of properties that are available for those in the rental market.

 

 

Outside of the common group of renters, international students returning to study abroad have reduced the supply of rental properties even further adding to the saturation of demand.

 

 

In addition, many Canadian university students spent the first two years of the pandemic living with their parents and are also contributing to the flooding of the rental market.

With so much demand, people are “panic lease signing” (Source: Global News) in order to secure a residence. Such a rushed and impulsive decision is proving to be detrimental to renters, as they are committing to properties that many not be in the most desirable condition.

 

 

Appliances may not be working properly, heating and AC may not be operable, and the overall cleanliness of a property could be unsatisfactory. This creates further rental property challenge in an already stressed-out market.

2. Rent hikes due to demand

Along with uncertain property conditions and the lack of available properties, another current rental market challenge is the increased cost of rent. Not only is this being caused by the current economic state, but landlords are further increasing their rental prices.

 

 

While many landlords made arrangements with their tenants to reduce prices at the beginning of the pandemic, not all are raising prices out of necessity.

 

 

Some in the rental demographic are being priced out of homes that they were previously able to afford.

 

 

Others are forced to accept a lower square footage, due to the rising cost of monthly rent. While an individual might be able to make this work, those with families and small children may find the reduction in living space particularly challenging.

 

 

Hikes in rent may also be creating multi-family households and further decreasing the amount of space families have within their homes.

 

 

Though some cultures encourage two or sometimes more families to share a living space, others are moving in with their relatives out of necessity.

 

 

Rent hikes are forcing many to re-evaluate their living circumstances.

3. Rental scam increase

With such a high demand in the marketplace, scammers are trying to capitalize on an already vulnerable population of renters creating further rental market challenges.

 

“The scams are a growing problem, especially during summertime as scammers post fake rental listings online to lure renters into making bookings and sending money, only to find out later a property doesn’t exist or is unavailable for rent.” (Source: Globe and Mail)

 

This type of scam can be targeted to workers that are no longer in remote positions and are being asked to return to the office. Other vulnerable demographics targeted by this type of scam can be foreign students, students that are pursuing cross-provincial studies, and individuals or families moving to a new city.

 

Though this may happen when you live in the same city as the listing, scammers might find it easier to target unassuming out-of-towners who are in a panic to secure a residence.

4. National rental market comparison

According to the Rental.ca August Rent Report,  

 

 

“The average rent for all Canadian properties listed on Rentals.ca in July 2022 was $1,934 per month, up 10.4% annually and 2.4% monthly.”
 

 

The report goes on to mention that the average rent is now only $20 less than the rental market peak back in September 2019. 

 

With such skyrocketing rent prices, Canadians face even further rental market challenges based on the cities they live in or are planning to move to. Vancouver and Toronto are amongst the most expensive, followed by other cities in their respective provinces of British Columbia and Ontario.

 

 

Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, and Montreal are all decidedly cheaper to live in. Sitting at a current average rate of $1,333 for a two-bedroom apartment, Edmonton is in the green zone when it comes to rental affordability across Canada.

 

 

However, the monthly rent continues to creep up higher and higher causing uncertainty for renters and making the dream of an attached or detached single family home much more distant.

Bridge to Homeownership (BTH)

EP Homes’ Bridge to Homeownership™ (BTH) program is a good alternative to renting and avoiding the current rental market challenges.

 

Our program can help clients that have good credit and even a zero down payment secure a home for their families.

 

EP Homes understands that every client’s financial situation is unique and we have structured our program to be flexible.

 

The program conducts a fair market appraisal on a new home from one of our preferred partner homebuilders to determine how much a monthly payment will be.

 

Monthly payments have 2 components: rent + savings. The savings component will accumulate to be your down payment at the end of the 3-year lease term.

 

Our mission at EP Homes is to help everyday people become their best financial selves as homeowners.

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Home Organization and Your Mental Health

Making home organization a priority can keep the clutter away and have a positive impact on your mental health.  

Many say a cluttered home can lead to a cluttered mind.  When your environment is messy, you can feel bogged down and overwhelmed which can lead to mental health issues like depression or anxiety.

When your mental health starts to spiral, organizing your home can feel even more challenging than it did in the first place.

Organizing your home can be the first step to improving your mental health. The key is to chip away at things—big or small—even when you don’t feel like it to create a space that helps you feel good.


“Having a simplified, uncluttered home is a form of self-care.”  
– Emma Scheib, Health and Wellness Coach

Small Steps

Home organization doesn’t have to mean re-organizing your entire house. You can start with one area at a time.


A good idea is to take an inventory of everything in your home and see which areas would bring you the biggest relief first.

 

For example, if your pantry has been neglected for a while, take everything out and place all the items on a countertop. Put items that are similar in nature—like sauces with sauces and canned veggies with canned veggies—together. And don’t forget to toss out expired items!

 

Creating categories when organizing your home can help prevent feeling overwhelmed and make the whole process much smoother.

“Human beings can only truly cherish a limited number of things at one time.”
– Marie Condo, Organizing Consultant
 

When clutter turns more serious

We  all have certain sentimental items that we have a hard time parting with. But, for some getting rid of any possessions is so difficult that they keep everything. This is called hoarding.

Considered a mental health condition, hoarding can be the cause of or create other mental health issues. In addition, it makes organizing your home nearly impossible creating a very difficult cycle to break.

While symptoms of hoarding can be obvious, it is still advised that a proper diagnosis be delivered by a qualified doctor and/or psychologist.  

Home organization resources

There are many books and tv shows that tackle the topic of home organization.

Both can help you add more feng shui into your space to create a better feeling of flow.

They can also help you determine which storage containers, bins or baskets work best for the area of your home that needs to be organized.

If you don’t have the time (or patience) to go through a book or watch a show, call a friend or family member who may excel at organization.

Having someone guide you through the process to make it less overwhelming is always a good idea.

Organization doesn’t have to be treated as a chore, it can be fun! Make it a girl’s night, or have your family or the kids help out with.

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Closing Costs

Buying a home in Canada includes two upfront financing payments before getting a mortgage: a down payment and closing costs.


Most people are aware they will need to save for a down payment, but unaware that there are other closing costs associated with purchasing a home.   


First, a deposit must be paid. The deposit is considered part of your overall down payment and is given to the seller’s representative once the offer to purchase their home has been accepted.


After your deposit, you are required to provide a down payment which can come from various sources. 


In addition to these payments, closing cost- which range between 1.5% – 4% of  your purchase price- must also be factored into your budget.

But, what do closing costs cover? The list below gives you a glimpse into the costs that are usually associated with purchasing as home.

Home Inspection

Often, home inspections are a condition in your offer to purchase a property and paid for by you, the buyer.

 

Though this closing cost is technically optional, it is very advisable to conduct a home inspection even if you are acquiring a new build home.

 

Once the offer has been accepted, you will schedule an inspection with a third-party company.

 

After the inspection, a report outlining any concerns you may want to address with the seller prior to possession will be issued to you.

Legal Fees

Lawyers go through the paperwork required when purchasing a home and are considered a mandatory closing cost. It is important to know your legal fees are negotiable.

It’s also good practice to ask your close friends and family to refer a good lawyer to you so that you aren’t paying more than you should be. Alternatively, you can shop around to find a lawyer who charges reasonable prices.  

Property Insurance

Most lenders will ask that you get property insurance to ensure your residence is covered in case of any unforeseen emergencies.

 

This closing cost is also considered mandatory and should be accounted for in your budget.

Property Taxes

One of the costs of owning a home are property taxes. In many cases, the previous owner has already paid the property taxes for the year.

 

The amount that has been paid from the time of your possession to the end of the year will have to be reimbursed to the seller—and as such, they are included in your closing costs.

Adjustment Costs

When you take possession of a home, chances are it won’t be at the end of a billing cycle.

The previous owner will have already paid for the utilities like gas, water and electricity. A reimbursement from your possession date to the day you have the utilities set up under your name will need to be issued to the seller. 

  

 

Depending on your situation, your lender may also ask that you pay for a property appraisal and/or title insurance.

 

And don’t forget your moving costs! The lender will not be looking for confirmation that you have these funds, but you should make sure they are included in you budget!


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Housing Affordability

he cost of goods and services is affected by the supply and demand of the market—housing affordability is no different.

In our current market housing affordability will continue to rise if enough additional houses aren’t built by 2030.

With home builders facing a shortage of building materials, like lumber, the target number of new builds could be difficult to meet.

This obstacle impacts Canadians who seek homeownership to put down roots and achieve sense of security.  

 

The lack of affordable housing will restrict future homebuyers from being able to building equity in their homes sooner, leaving them having to make mortgage payments later in life.

Proposed Solution

A shortage of affordable housing poses even further obstacles for many future home buyers. 

To combat this issue, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) was founded on the belief that everyone in Canada should have affordable housing.

 

CMHC’s 2018 report states that if the current rate of construction for new housing continues there will only be 19 million units by 2030, rather than the 22 million needed.

 

According to CMHC, “to restore affordability, an additional 3.5M affordable housing units are needed by 2030.”

 

The effort to meet this projection relies heavily on uncontrollable variables like building supply availability and available land for development.

Alternative Solution

The lack of affordable housing poses challenges for future home buyers.

While there are options like purchasing a home with extended family, it can get a bit crowded in house with a lot people and few bathrooms.

 

To avoid future feuds of who is taking too long to get ready, or which family member has too much closet space, current renters may want to consider the idea of homeownership earlier.

Choosing the Bridge to Homeownership™ (BTH) powered by EP Homes is a good alternative to secure a home for you and your family, even now.

 

Even with zero down payment the BTH program can help clients that have good credit.

EP Homes understands that every client is unique and have structured our program to be flexible.

 

The program conducts a fair market appraisal on a new home from one of our preferred homebuilder partners to determine how much your monthly payment will be.

Your monthly payment has 2 components: rent + savings. The savings component will accumulate to be your down payment at the end of the 3-year lease term.

 

Our mission at EP Homes is to help everyday people become their best financial selves as homeowners.

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Different Types of Down Payments

There are several different types of down payments you can use to qualify for a traditional mortgage in Canada.

While the minimum amount for a down payment is 5% (plus around 1.5% for closing costs), the source of the funds aren’t always the same for everyone.

To give you an idea of where you can accumulate your down payment from, we’ve made a list.

savings

Using the savings from a traditional savings account is one of the most common types of down payments.

The down payment must sit in your savings account for over three months and the deposits must be traceable.

Monthly or bi-weekly contributions are very common forms of making deposits to your savings account.

pink piggy bank that helps you save for a down payment

Some banks even have a “round up” program that will take every purchase you make using your debit card round up to the nearest dollar amount.

 

That extra portion will then be transferred to a savings account.

 

Other bank programs will deposit a set target amount into your savings account with every purchase you make i.e. $5 a purchase.

 

Whatever your method for saving is, every bit of it will help with a down payment.

Gifted Down Payment

When receiving a gifted down payment, lenders require that it comes from immediate family only.

 

The reason?

 

Lenders want to make sure that your gifted down payment really is a gift. Chances of it being a loan are less likely coming from an immediate family member.

 

The donor must then provide a gift letter outlining all of the details, including the mandatory expiry date of 90 days from the initial date of gifting.

RRSPs

A Registered Retirement savings Plan (RRSP) is recommended for retirement, but can also be a down payment source for first-time homebuyers.

 

In order to withdraw to $35,000 from your RRSP for a down payment, you must participate in the government of Canada’s Home Buyer’s Plan.

 

If you have a group or lock-in RRSP you may not be eligible for this plan. Find more details on the government of Canada website.   

Bridge to Homeownership™ Powered by EP Homes

This alternative homeownership program  can help you save for a down payment, all while living in your brand-new turnkey home.

 

 

The program conducts a fair market appraisal on a new home from one of our preferred homebuilder partners to determine how much your monthly payment will be.

 

 

Included in your monthly payment is a savings component that will accumulate to be your down payment at the end of the 3-year lease term.

 

 

Our mission is to help everyday people become their best financial self as homeowners.

 

We understand everyone’s situation is unique and have structured our program to be flexible. 

 

 

We are not a one-size-fits-all and happily make customizations for every client with good credit and no down payment. 

 

 

Our six-step program can help everyday people get into a new home and on the path to homeownership with their own down payment by the end of the program.

 

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