A house to call home — where you and your two dogs can live peacefully without the reoccurring worry that your landlord might give you a 60-day notice and send you packing. Can you imagine it?

Many Truckee/Tahoe locals believe owning a home is not a reality, but I’m here to inform you that it is possible, and that we’re seeing more and more local families become homeowners each day.

Back in May, Senior Loan Officer Katie Rice of Guild Mortgage and I put on a first-time home buyer’s seminar at Marg’s Taco Bistro in Truckee. Our only source of advertisement and marketing was on the Truckee/Tahoe people Facebook page and word-of-mouth, but within just a few days we already had to turn people away. The free seminar drew in a crowd of more than 40 locals, all with the common goal of acquiring knowledge about how they could become homeowners in the second-home market pervasive in Tahoe. Once the seminar came to a close, Katie and I were inundated with hugs, countless “thank you-so-much’s,” and even a few tears. The tears of attendees were matched with a few of our own.


We had a wonderful woman who had a young child at home and was carrying her second. She waited until most of the crowd had left and had a seat with Katie and me to tell us her story. She had been living in Olympic Heights in Truckee for the past couple of years, in a property that was less than ideal, but worked for her growing family. However, she explained that there are nights when she lies in bed wondering when they’ll have to move; because to her family, it’s not a matter of if, but of when. Her landlord had already sent an email stating he wanted to sell, and this growing family had no idea what the next step would be. Do they move before it’s listed for sale, while she is nine months pregnant, to avoid strangers coming in and out for showings? Or do they wait until they have a newborn and start looking then? You can imagine the distraught emotions this young family was experiencing. It was both heartbreaking and eye-opening to see this playing out right in front of our eyes. That’s when Katie and I made a pact — we would help as many locals as possible, regardless of the time and effort that would go into it.

It can be tough to be a Truckee/Tahoe local. We pay a price to live in paradise, and one of the biggest challenges we face is our local housing market. If a homeowner has an opportunity to bring in more revenue doing short term renting versus long term, who is to say they shouldn’t? Our goal is to get you in the driver’s seat by owning your own home and ideally never having to worry about getting kicked to the curb again.

I sat down with Katie last week to debunk a few common misconceptions for first-time home buyers. While we tried to keep numbers as general as possible for the purpose of this article, keep in mind that every specific borrower’s finances will differ. If there is one thing I hope you extract from this, it’s that it’s worth it to schedule a 30-minute meeting with Katie or another local lender.

One of the biggest misconceptions that Katie and her team hear from borrowers is the assumption that they need 20 percent saved before they can buy. All loan, deposit and closing numbers depend on each borrower’s individual situation, but at times, you can have as little as a 3 percent down payment to qualify. If you’ve been looking at the house down the street listed at $500,000, you don’t necessarily have to have $100,000 in the bank to own it.

Additionally, what if we told you there are multiple local grant and bond programs available in both California and Nevada geared specifically toward assisting financially in your first home purchase? We have also been able to get multiple local families into homes using down payment assistance programs.

A debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is one way lenders measure an individual’s ability to manage monthly payments and repay debts. DTI is calculated by dividing total recurring monthly debt by gross monthly income, and is expressed as a percentage. If your debt-to-income ratio is higher than 45%, you may not be eligible for the local programs mentioned above, but you could qualify for a conventional or government-backed loan (FHA). A trusted lender will present you with multiple options, so you and your family can choose the loan that will work best for you.

We hope to hold another first-time home buyer’s seminar in the fall. Stay tuned for details!

To learn more about the local grants and programs, contact The Rice Team at (530) 582-9991, or visit thericeteam.com.


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