After five years of renting and working as property caretakers, Chris and Sara were ready to look for a home of their own in the City of Maple Grove.

“We were tired of renting because we didn’t feel like the home was our own. We wanted to break out of our shell and feel like we could make our space our own and start putting what we wanted on the walls.”

Their quest for homeownership began in June 2016, working with a realtor, viewing many homes before they came across a Homes Within Reach (HWR) home listed on the MLS. Up until that point in time, neither the couple nor the realtor had heard about the Community Land Trust program.

“We didn’t even know what a land trust was,” said Chris. “It was a total stroke of luck that we found HWR.”

The mission of the not for profit organization, West Hennepin Affordable Land Trust (WHAHLT), dba Homes Within Reach (HWR), is to create and preserve affordable homeownership for work-force families living and working in the suburban communities of Hennepin County.

“We bought our first home two days before Memorial Day 2017. It was everything we were looking for! A quiet neighborhood, four-bedroom home with 1 ½ bath with a two car garage. It’s even on a corner lot!”

Chris and Sara both commute 10 to 15 minutes between home and work. “We saw the house and thought this is a perfect location and the house was in really good condition.”

HWR offers qualified work-force families the opportunity to purchase a home by using the Community Land Trust practice which removes the land from the mortgage equation and leases the land at a nominal fee, which reduces the mortgage, down payment and closing costs. HWR staff work with families that would be otherwise unable to buy a home in Hennepin suburban communities; thereby opening the door to them as homeowners to invest in endeavors that truly enhance the quality of their lives – such as education for the family, career opportunities, supportive health environment and the comfort and the security of being a homeowner.

“We absolutely love the HWR staff – they did a fantastic job of helping us find our new home and working with us through the qualification process, which took four months. We did take the first time homebuyer’s class. It was a lot of stuff we knew from being property caretakers but we learned about different kinds of loans and how to budget our money as homeowners.”

The HWR staff worked with the couple’s mortgage loan officer to become eligible. “Since working with us, our mortgage loan officer has helped at least three other families become homeowners,” Chris shared. “We’re the reason he’s working with other HWR homebuyers now.”

What attracted the couple to their Maple Grove home was the space. “It’s a very good space for us –especially to grow into as we wait for the arrival of our second child due in November. “When we rented, we lived on a very busy street and couldn’t enjoy the backyard. Now we live on a quiet street and our child can go outside and play.”