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Guest post: Rungs on the Homeownership Ladder

By Nancy Oates, former Chapel Hill Town Council member and longtime Community Home Trust supporter

I left home as a teenager to make my way in the world, my head full of dreams, my heart full of ambition, and my bank account not full at all. Most of my earnings from the kind of job a teenager without a college degree could get went toward rent, for bottom-of-the-barrel housing at that.

I looked for ways to improve my financial security and figured out that equity would go a long way toward getting my financial future on the right path. If I paid myself the amount of money I was paying a landlord in rent, I would be a lot better off in the long run. After all, what is a mortgage but a forced savings account, one that you get to live in?

A homebuilder once told me that the first house he bought was quite modest, but he lived in it a number of years until his growing family needed more room. When he sold it, he put all the equity from that starter home as a down payment on a larger house, and the amount he paid for his new mortgage was basically the same monthly payment as his original one. Over the years, he continued this pattern to the point that as he neared retirement he lived in a very gracious home, and the amount of his mortgage never went up.

The problem I faced when I was starting out was that the first rung of the homeownership ladder was way too high up for me to get a toehold. Fortunately, I had a friend with money who believed in me and co-signed my first mortgage. I have followed that homebuilder’s advice, and as I near retirement, I am able to live in a house that is much nicer than you’d expect a lowly freelance writer could afford.

For 30 years, Community Home Trust has meant that people without a lot of savings or who don’t have a high income do have access to the equivalent of a friend with money who believes in them. By putting the first rung of the homeownership ladder within reach to more people, Community Home Trust enables those who choose modestly paying careers to build wealth through homeownership.

I believe in the work of Community Home Trust. I know firsthand that the concept works. So do hundreds of Orange County residents who have purchased a home through Community Home Trust over the past 30 years. Join us May 20 to celebrate three decades of Community Home Trust helping folks in Orange County build success.

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