Raina and Joshua Chelise have a reason to be thankful this Thanksgiving. After years of renting and thinking they would never be able to buy a house, they are celebrating the holiday in their first home.
“We’re excited,” says Raina Chelise. It’s especially meaningful for her – she is the first person in her family to own a home. “Growing up, my mom – a single mother – was very nomadic so we were never in one place for very long,” Chelise says. “I always wanted a home where I would feel stable.” She has that now, thanks to a new loan for first-time homebuyers offered by Bay Federal Credit Union, based in Santa Cruz County with an office in Salinas. The loan is just 3-percent down, and includes the closing costs. The interest rate is 5.521 percent on a 30-year fixed loan.
The loan program was created in 2021 because of a need in the community for home ownership, says Megan Rhodes, senior vice president and chief lending officer of Bay Federal. “We realized what was stopping them from purchasing a home was closing costs and a down payment,” Rhodes says. They knew once moved in, new homeowners could make their monthly payments – they were already paying high rents before buying.
Since the beginning of this year, Bay Federal has issued 76 loans worth $42 million, most of them in Santa Cruz County. They have a goal of expanding throughout Monterey and San Benito counties by the end of 2024.
Chelise, a communications studies instructor at Cabrillo College who is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership, and her husband Joshua, a bus operator for the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transportation District, had been Bay Federal customers for years. About a year ago they started asking questions about how they might qualify for a loan. (The credit union offers members financial education.)
The couple soon found themselves connected to Salinas loan consultant Camac Serna, who Chelise says went “above and beyond” in helping them secure the loan. They chose Salinas because the homes provided more space than in Santa Cruz County, at a lower price.
“We work really hard to help them get into these homes,” Rhodes says. “It’s scary and we try to make them feel as comfortable as possible. We’re willing to hold their hands and do it together.”
It took the couple about a month-and-a-half, from securing the loan to purchasing the home for $570,000 with the help of real estate agent Sarah Jukes. There were multiple offers, so they wrote a letter to the sellers saying they wanted to make it their forever home and promising to honor the home’s character. When they found out the sellers chose them, “it was just thrilling and terrifying and all the things at once,” Chelise says.
The credit union is preparing to offer a low-interest loan in 2023 specifically aimed at another segment of the community in need of a place to live: renters who need money for a deposit and first and last month’s rent. It could be ready to launch by spring. .
— to news.google.com