Jennifer Yakunovich, a young professional invested in the revitalization of her hometown, is the proud new owner of 120 Library Ave, Rutland, Vermont.
The property was the first complete gut rehab completed by NeighborWorks of Western Vermont under a Vermont Community Development Program grant, with the hopes of increasing the amount of healthy, safe, and affordable houses on the market.
Path to HomeOwnership
It all started a year and a half ago, when Jennifer took the first step and attended our Homebuyer Education course. Tired of renting and interested in starting to make an investment in her future, Jennifer was motivated to learn more about the homebuying process.
“I took Homebuyer Education because I felt like I needed a little more information about the process to feel confident, and to be able to talk to lenders and know what they are talking about,” she says.
The class made one thing very clear: she was not ready to become a homeowner. “The class was incredibly helpful, so helpful that I put the brakes on everything,” adds Jennifer, chuckling.
Applying what she learned about financial readiness, she started making financial changes to prepare herself to be an informed, prepared homebuyer. She moved in with her grandmother, and started saving while improving her credit score.
One-On-One Financial Counseling
After a year, she checked back in with NeighborWorks’ HomeOwnership Director, Nancy Gilman, to see if she had made progress.
“I met with Nancy, and she thought I was ready to start seeking a mortgage,” says Jennifer, who, thrilled that her hard work had paid off, actively began looking at homes again.
“I was looking for something historic,” she says, and she began attending open houses before reaching out to NeighborWorks’ Real Estate office RealtyWorks.
Gene Felder, a Realtor with RealtyWorks, accompanied Jennifer back to one of the open house properties.
“Gene was really helpful because he pointed out things that I wouldn’t have noticed or wouldn’t have thought to consider,” Jennifer says, “Gene was amazing. Whenever I had a question, he got right back to me with an answer.”
Gene mentioned the property at 120 Library Ave (a NeighborWorks’ rehabilitation in Rutland’s Northwest neighborhood) to Jennifer. Trusting Gene’s intuition, she agreed to take a look.
“Just stepping in there, I knew it was the right place.”
And, just so you have an idea of what Jennifer saw when she took that first step in, picture this:
“When I first saw the house, there was nothing in the kitchen- it was all still sheetrock, plywood on the floors. It was basic; it looked like a construction zone.”
Standing on the railing-less second floor landing and envisioning the finished home, Jennifer recalls, “It felt like the place to be. It felt like home.”
The Right Price
Empowered through our Homebuyer Education course and supported by NeighborWorks through the entire process, Jennifer bought her first home with a Homeland Grant to help ease the burden of a 20% down payment and mortgage insurance. “I don’t know how the Homeland Grant could not be a great option for a first time homebuyer,” she says.
“There is no way I could have afforded this property in any other situation,” Jennifer says, mentioning the weatherization, the new efficient washer and dryer, the kitchen complete with an island and under-cabinet lighting.
Additionally, Jennifer was intrigued by the perks of a gut renovation. “The idea that there wouldn’t have to be any major repairs for 10 years- it put my mind to ease.”
Now she pays about the same as she had while renting in Rutland and is making an investment in her own future.
Neighborhood of Choice
In her new home, Jennifer enjoys a commute that would make anyone jealous: a block-long walk.
Her property, located in Northwest Rutland, is bordered by Pine Hill Park, a mountain biker/hiker/outdoor lover’s paradise, and by Downtown Rutland. For $125,000, Jennifer now owns a three bedroom, 1.5 bath, open floor plan remodeled home with a historic frame. She would be hard-pressed to find something to complain about.
“I’m really happy being in the Northwest neighborhood. I feel like it was a great choice.”
Peace and Security
These days, Jennifer marvels at the benefits of homeownership.
“I have always lived in college dorms or rental units, and there was always this anxiety about the fact that it was not my wall, not my backyard, not my building. Now, I have the freedom to paint the walls whatever color I like, to plant whatever I want in my backyard. The peace and the calmness that comes with knowing that I can be here forever, that this is mine and I am here for the long run, is priceless.”
Asked whether she would recommend NeighborWorks of Western Vermont to friends, Jennifer replies, “I encourage anybody to, it’s the first thing I say to them when they talk about buying a home.”
Begin Your Own Homeownership Journey
To learn more about the homebuying process, sign up for our Homebuyer Education course today! The classes are offered monthly in Middlebury, Rutland, and Bennington Counties.
Check out our RealtyWorks website and browse local listings.
For more information on our work in Northwest Rutland, catch up on our blog posts.