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Four Ways Buying a Home Will Change your Financial Life

Four Ways Buying a Home Will Change your Financial Life

Buying a home can improve your quality of life and build financial security for your family that can last generations. However, it’s a major financial commitment that requires careful planning and preparation.

“Buying a home can seem intimidating to the first-time buyer, but the rewards are undeniable. It’s an investment in your life, and your family,” said Scott Kim, Director of Portfolio and Lending Operations at HomeSight.

As you consider buying a home, know upfront this decision will transform your financial life, in ways that are undoubtedly beneficial—but also in ways that will be tough. And, like most things worth pursuing, you have to go through the tough parts to get to the beneficial parts. Here are the ways buying your first home will change your financial life:

1. You’ll get to know your budget on a more intimate level.

Depending on the type of mortgage for which you qualify, you may need to put down anywhere from three to 20 percent of the purchase price of the home. This means you will have to set aside money every month and reduce expenses until you reach your goal.

The down payment is just one of the new expenses you’ll be facing as a homebuyer. You’ll also need to plan for short-term expenses such as closing costs, and long-term expenses such as your mortgage, maintenance, repairs, property taxes and insurance.

To get started, you’ll need do a deep dive into your budget and find out exactly where your money is going and where you can save. It might be tough to whittle down the number of streaming services you subscribe to, but it’s good to take an honest look at your needs and habits. Have you really been watching Max since the Game of Thrones sequel ended?

2. You’ll create a new financial roadmap.

If you’ve been renting, your budget probably hasn’t contained expenses for lawn care, pest control, painting and cleaning, or unexpected repairs such as plumbing leaks, roof damage or appliance breakdowns. If you’ve never had these expenses before, they can be tough to estimate. To create line items for these – as well as for other expenses such as property taxes and insurance – you’ll need an all-new budget.

Fortunately, the homeownership team at HomeSight has expertise in advising first-time homebuyers and can help you estimate your new costs, creating a budget with you that works for your family and helps you save enough to meet your goals.

3. You’ll build equity in your home.

What’s equity? It’s the difference between what your home is worth and what you owe on your mortgage. As you pay off your mortgage over time, your equity will increase. When you’re renting, you’re paying for living expenses and you’ll never see that money again. With a mortgage, you’re paying for living expenses, and most of that money remains yours. This means …

4. You’ll have options in the future.

Ultimately, buying a home will transform your financial life and open options you wouldn’t have without home equity. You can use your equity to borrow money for home improvements, education, debt consolidation and other purposes. You can also sell your home and use the proceeds to buy another one, or to fund your retirement.

It’s true you’ll need to jump the initial financial hurdles of home ownership to reach the benefits. But if you’re considering taking the first step down the path to homeownership, remember you don’t have to take this journey alone. Consult with trusted community professionals who are committed to helping you along the way. Homebuying will create new financial realities, but you don’t have to navigate them alone.

An Opportunity to Build Generational Wealth

Smith at the official opening of Bryant Playfield (May 4, 1978), Seattle Municipal Archives

“Safety,” “Security,” & “An Opportunity to Build Generational Wealth”

Today, the last day of #NationalHomeownershipMonth, our clients who benefitted last year from HomeSight’s Sam Smith “Hi Neighbor” Homeownership Fund tell us what the joy of homeownership means to them.

Last year, HomeSight partnered with Windermere Real Estate to create the Sam Smith “Hi Neighbor” Homeownership Fund, a loan product to increase purchasing power and bridge the affordability gap facing Black homebuyers earning between 80-120 percent of Washington state’s median income.

The partnership addresses the importance of helping a population that has been deliberately denied opportunity and aims to help fix the resulting, historically rooted imbalance. This collaboration linked key forces in real estate and housing opportunity, amplifying the impact of each and spurring more collaboration across the community. U.S. Bank, Key Bank, JP Morgan Chase and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers joined the effort.

This initiative was inspired by legendary Washington state legislator and Seattle City Council President Sam Smith, whose perseverance in passing the state’s Open Housing Law in 1967 resulted in a major, hard-won civil rights victory, ensuring that all people, regardless of race or religion, could live wherever they pleased. The fund’s name also gives a nod to Smith’s congenial personality.

The fund allowed eligible recipients to borrow up to $20,000 to layer into a mortgage loan to use toward their home’s purchase cost.

We’ve used their first initials only to protect their privacy. Here are their stories:

R is caretaker for her brother, who has a disability, and her mother. Homeownership gives her “peace of mind, stability, safety and security.” Because she can own her home “she’ll always have a place to live,” and she can “realize the benefits of equity in her home.”

S was “sick and tired of renting in Section 8 housing.” She wanted the “security of being on the top floor.” She cited security and stability as well as achievement of the goal of home ownership. “It’s a new starting point for building generational wealth,” she told HomeSight. “Homeownership is a huge asset towards my future.”

K was looking for a place with “enough space so she and her kids, her kids’ friends, and extended her family could spread out and relax.” She also wanted live close to public transportation with a garage and a yard that could accommodate a dog. She loves the feeling of “achievement of the goal of home ownership,” acknowledging it is “another step towards generational wealth” and would allow her “to leverage equity towards another home down the road.” Most of all, she wanted a place that she and her family “could call home.”

J, a teacher and lifelong resident of Washington, found renting in Seattle “really, really expensive.” He sought the financial stability of homeownership, and said he and his wife, son and dog are “really happy to own a home now.” The funding through this program made his family’s “homeowning dream come true.”

S and K, after living in Washington for 11 years, had decided to not buy a house, but life changed their minds. After their granddaughter was born, they wanted to “be nearby to provide support.” They found the cost of leasing versus buying “wasn’t that different” so they “decided to just go for it.” Safety factored heavily into their decision to move out of the city into Snohomish County. “I previously lived in Baltimore and Philly without feeling unsafe,” said S. “However, in 2021, within a span of six months, I witnessed two fatal shootings when I lived near Rainer Avenue South.” The experiences convinced her she “no longer desired to struggle navigating a big city.” The couple is accelerating their mortgage payments to significantly reduce the mortgage within 15 years. “Leaving a legacy of wealth across generations is important to us,” S said “We especially want to provide for our oldest son, who has a disability.”

Generations of people of color have been largely shut out from the benefits afforded by owning a home. Hearing this feedback from our clients makes us grateful for our community partnerships and hopeful for the future.

Gardening with Native Plants

National Homeownership Month in June exists to remind Americans that homeownership is the foundation on which the American dream is built. That dream was historically denied to many, and HomeSight is working to right past wrongs by putting the joy of homeownership, and the keys to a financially stable future, into the hands of people who may have thought homeownership was out of reach.

This National Homeownership Month, HomeSight celebrates the Joy of Homeownership. Homeownership brings security and a place for families to plant roots and grow. It also presents new responsibilities. We hope the following series of posts will help our new homeowners unlock the door to all the advantages and joys homeowning can provide. Congratulations to all our HomeSight homeowners!

Gardening with Native Plants in the Pacific Northwest

You know you’re a real Pacific Northwest homeowner when you go to your first native plant sale.

At HomeSight, we hear from our clients that homeownership gives them “safety,” security,” “a place to spread out,” and “a place to plant roots.” Now that you own a home, those roots can be figurative and physical. Even if you’ve purchased a home in an urban space – such as HomeSight’s U-lex co-op in South Seattle – many of them feature opportunities to plant a garden. (If, however, you live in a condo that doesn’t offer gardening opportunities, and you want to feel some soil beneath your toes or fingers, the P-Patch program offers Seattle residents the opportunity to apply for a plot of land to grow their own food or plants of their choice.)

We recommend starting with native plants.

Why go native?

Native plants are plants that have evolved in a specific region and adapted to its climate, soil, and wildlife. They have natural resistance to pests and diseases, need less maintenance such as water and fertilizer than non-native plants, and provide food and shelter options for native birds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. Pacific Northwesterners are spoiled for choice when it comes to native vegetation. It’s abundant, easy to grow, and can even be fun to eat.

Here are just a few suggestions to start your garden:

Plant a tree:

  • Washington is home to 25 native tree species, including Western hemlock (the state tree), Western red cedar, Sitka spruce, red alder, Douglas fir, and ponderosa pine. Choose trees that tolerate the amount of sun and type of soil you have.

Liven up the lawn with shrubbery:

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  • Oregon grape: This evergreen shrub has glossy green leaves and yellow flowers in spring, followed by blue berries in summer. It can grow in sun or shade and tolerates dry conditions.
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  • Red-flowering currant: This deciduous shrub has fragrant pink or red flowers in early spring that attract hummingbirds. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil.
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  • Sword fern*: This large fern has arching fronds that create a lush green backdrop for other plants. It thrives in shady and moist areas.
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  • False Solomon’s Seal is a great choice for shady areas of your yard where grass has trouble growing. It spreads, so it will fill up an area nicely after planting.
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  • Rhododendron: Add Washington’s state flower, the coast rhododendron, to your yard. These shrubs can grow to the size of a small tree.

Add some color to your yard with flowers:

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  • Common yarrow has tiny white and yellow flowers, tolerate a variety of soil conditions and require little maintenance.
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  • Monkshood loves water-rich soil and shade and produces purple flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. It blooms in July and August.
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  • Aster is a meadow flower that loves full sun and well-watered soil. They come in a variety of colors. produce colorful and fragrant blooms that attract butterflies and other pollinators. Arrowleaf balsamroot, a species of aster with a yellow, single-flower bloom, is important to bees and grows well even in sandy or gravelly soil.
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  • Western columbine has delicate red and yellow flowers that bloom from late spring to early summer. It grows well in partial shade and moist soil.

Eat your plants:

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  • One of the best parts of living in the Pacific Northwest is the abundance of wild berries. Raspberries, salmonberries, and huckleberries, to name just a few, grow everywhere. If you cultivate them in your yard, they might take over – and you might let them! (Be aware that Oregon grape doesn’t taste like a grape you’d buy at the store.)

There are so many more varieties and species to investigate and explore. If you’re looking to do a deep dive into Washington’s native plants and how they benefit the ecology of your yard, visit the Washington Native Plant Society or the National Wildlife Federation.

Happy gardening!

Home Maintenance 101

National Homeownership Month in June exists to remind Americans that homeownership is the foundation on which the American dream is built. That dream was historically denied to many, and HomeSight is working to right past wrongs by putting the joy of homeownership, and the keys to a financially stable future, into the hands of people who may have thought homeownership was out of reach.

This National Homeownership Month, HomeSight celebrates the Joy of Homeownership. Homeownership brings security and a place for families to plant roots and grow. It also presents new responsibilities. We hope the following series of posts will help our new homeowners unlock the door to all the advantages and joys homeowning can provide. Congratulations to all our HomeSight homeowners!

Home Maintenance 101: Give Your Home Love, Get Joy in Return

Admittedly, home maintenance tasks may not top the list of fun weekend activities, but when it comes to home ownership, you have to give to receive. To receive the full joy of homeownership, you have to invest a little attention in your home at regular intervals throughout the year.

Why? Investing a small amount of time into your home can pay big dividends. When it comes to owning a home, prevention is always a less expensive strategy than having to call in the emergency plumber – and discovering he has regular rates and weekend rates. Murphy’s Law tells us that toilets don’t explode on weekdays during working hours.

To make sure your toilet and other home necessities never reach that point, HomeSight has put together a schedule of basic inspection tasks that can forestall and prevent costly problems, improve your home’s comfort, safety and appearance, and increase its value.  

Here is HomeSight’s checklist for basic home maintenance tasks every new homeowner should know:

Once a year:

water heater
    • Flush your water heater. This can remove sediment buildup, improve your water heater’s performance, and extend its lifespan.
    • Clean your dryer vent. Failure to clean the dryer vent was the leading cause of residential house fires between 2018-2020, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System and the U.S. Fire Administration. You can hire a professional duct cleaner for this or consult YouTube for advice on how to DIY.

Twice a year, at Daylight Saving Time:

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You can remember to do all your twice-yearly checks by coordinating them with your clock changes on Daylight Saving Time Sunday. 

    • Check the pressure gauges in the fire extinguishers in your house. (We recommend keeping one on each floor.)
    • Clean your gutters and downspouts at least twice a year (more often if you have trees nearby). This prevents water damage, mold growth, and pest infestation, especially in Seattle’s climate.
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Monthly:

Young woman cleaning air conditioner at home
    • Check and change your air filters every month to improve your indoor air quality and reduce your energy bills.
    • Remove dirt, dust, and debris from your air vents and heat registers each month. Clean vents to keep your appliances efficient and remove circulating dust and dander from the air.

Every Fall:

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    • Keep your outdoor faucets from freezing over the winter by closing off your shut-off valve before temperatures drop. (Your realtor or home inspector can help you find your water shut-off valve!) Then drain the line to make sure there’s no water trapped inside.
    • Make an annual appointment to have your furnace inspected to make sure it’s properly maintained before winter. These maintenance checks will always be more cost-effective than emergency repair calls, and less life-disrupting!
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After it rains:

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    • As you get to know your house, check for damp areas or moisture intrusion in gaps or cracks around your windows, doors, pipes, or vents. Use caulk or weatherstripping to seal any minor leaks you find. Check your attic for any signs of water intrusion or insulation issues. If you find any problems, contact a professional roofer as soon as possible.

After you do laundry:

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    • Get in the habit of cleaning your lint trap every time you use your dryer. This can prevent fires and improve your dryer’s efficiency.

Today:

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    • Set reminders on your phone or calendar to remind yourself to do these, and you’ll find yourself creating habits in no time. Enjoy your clean, safe, efficient home!

Is Co-op Living Right for You?

Is Co-Op Living Right for you?

If you’re looking for a home, have you considered a co-op? Cooperative housing, or co-ops, such as HomeSight’s U-lex at Othello Square in south Seattle, can provide an affordable entry point into the Seattle housing market. A co-op is a form of housing where residents share ownership and responsibility for their building and its facilities. Co-op members can build equity while paying less than what they’d pay for rent.

While co-op living presents an opportunity for some—such as first-time homebuyers—it’s not for everyone. Co-ops encourage owners to participate in decision-making and government and generally have more comprehensive rules than typical homeowner associations. Buying into a co-op means buying into a commitment to respect the rules and values of the community.

There are pros and cons to this type of housing, and to illustrate them, we’ll use HomeSight’s co-op, U-lex, as an example.

Affordability

With so many people feeling shut out of the housing market in Seattle, co-ops are creative options for helping families stay in their community and build equity. U-lex, which offers 68 low- and middle-income residents an affordable equity-building opportunity in South Seattle’s Othello neighborhood, is in the heart of south Seattle, one block from the Othello Light Rail station.

One major benefits of co-op living at U-lex is the ability to affordably live in the city,” said Uche Okezie, HomeSight’s Director of Real Estate Development. “We want residents to know they can build equity here. They can build wealth in their price range.

Pro or Con?

If affordable housing is a priority for you, affordability is a co-op’s biggest “pro.”

Sociability

Instead of buying a structure or the land where it sits, a co-op buyer is buying shares in a corporation. The corporation owns the building and land, and all the members of the co-op are member shareholders in the corporation, with each household having an equal voting right. The co-op is run by a board selected by popular vote of the co-op members. Co-op members are encouraged to participate in their governance.

U-lex (pronounced OH-lew) means “gather” in Lushootseed, the language spoken by the Coast Salish people who originally lived in Seattle. Co-ops typically feature gathering spaces designed to build a real community. At U-lex, a central courtyard connected to interior amenity spaces provides a large multi-purpose area. There will also be communal sun decks on the second and fourth floors.

Pro or Con?

If living in a community and knowing your neighbors is important to you, a co-op would be a “pro.”

Sustainability

Consumer demand for sustainability is high, and construction trends are responding. U-lex will keep energy costs low by installing rooftop solar panels and water- and energy- efficient fixtures and appliances. In addition, living where you work and play reduces commuting costs and carbon expenditure. Although U-lex offers some garage space under the building, its location one block from the Othello Light Rail Station and its bike storage options will reduce residents’ reliance on their cars.

Pro or Con?

If sustainability factors into your housing choices, a co-op would be a “pro.”

Rules and Restrictions

Co-ops, governed by residents, tend to have more rules than a typical condominium board or homeowner association. At U-lex, with its mission of providing affordable residential ownership to income-qualified families, renting out units will be prohibited and making major changes to units won’t be allowed.

Pro or Con?

Know the rules before you buy. If they appeal to you, rules can be a “pro.” If they contradict your goals or you want to make major changes to your unit, put rules and restrictions in the “cons” column.
To learn more about co-op living at Homesight’s affordable U-lex co-op, visit here or sign up for our next information session!

If you have questions about co-op living, contact HomeSight. We can give you all the information you need to make the right housing decision for your family, and your budget.

Happy Father’s Day!

This June, for National Homeownership Month, HomeSight celebrates the Joy of Homeownership.

Homeownership brings security and a place for families to plant roots and grow. It also presents new responsibilities. We hope the following series of posts will help our new homeowners unlock the door to all the advantages and joys homeowning can provide.

Congratulations to all our HomeSight homeowners!
Fathers Day Tools

Father’s Day Tools for the New Homeowner Dad in Your Life

For dad’s first Father’s Day as a homeowner, start with the basics.

Buying a home means security, stability, financial growth— and never having to buy your dad a tie for Father’s Day again.

If the father figure in your life is also a new homeowner, tools are the new ties. Tools aren’t just useful for house projects, however, they can enable family fun as well. HomeSight recommends the following tools for the new homeowner dad, starting with the most practical and ending with the most entertaining.

Essential Tools

Every homeowner needs a good, basic toolkit. For dad’s first Father’s Day as a homeowner, fill his toolbox with the basics he may not have yet:

    • A hammer. Versatile and essential, a good hammer should have a comfortable grip, a sturdy head, and a claw end for pulling nails.
    • A screwdriver set. A basic set should include flat-head and Phillips-head screwdrivers in various sizes, as well as specialty ones like Torx or hex keys. You can also get a multi-bit screwdriver that has interchangeable bits.
    • A tape measure. Hanging pictures, buying furniture, or planning a renovation requires a tape measure. Look for one that has a locking mechanism and a metal blade that can bend around corners.
    • A level. Don’t let dad hang crooked shelves, frames, or cabinets. A traditional, low-tech level has a liquid-filled tube with an air bubble inside. A digital level uses sensors and displays the angle on a screen.
    • A utility knife designed to cut through materials like cardboard, plastic, wood, and metal. A good utility knife should have a retractable blade that can be locked in place, and a comfortable handle that offers a good grip.
    • A saw with a comfortable grip.
    • A pliers set. Pliers grip, twist, bend, or cut objects. A basic set should include needle-nose pliers for reaching into tight spaces, slip-joint pliers for adjusting the jaw width, and wire-cutting pliers for cutting wires or nails.
    • A wrench set. Wrenches tighten or loosen nuts and bolts, and are useful for plumbing, automotive, or furniture projects. A basic wrench set should include adjustable wrenches that can fit different sizes of nuts and bolts, and combination wrenches that have both open-end and box-end sides for more versatility.

Power Tools

If dad is equipped with essential hand tools, you might want to venture into building his power tool library with:

    • A drill and drill bits. Power tools make tasks like hanging curtains, installing shelves, or mounting TVs fast and easy. A drill should have variable speed settings, a reversible function, and a keyless chuck for easy bit changes. You should have a set of drill bits that can handle different materials and diameters.
    • An electric saw and blades. A good power saw should have variable speed settings, a safety switch, and an ergonomic handle. You should have a set of saw blades that can handle different materials and thicknesses.
    • A power washer. This machine turns your garden hose into a powerful, precision cleaning machine. And it might make him the most sought-after neighbor on the block.
    • An electric hedge trimmer or lawnmower.
“We got my husband a power washer when we bought our house. He is obsessed with it and so are the neighbors, who often ask to use it. He is the guy with the power washer now. It’s like we crowned him king of the neighborhood.”
- Erica, HomeSight Communications & Marketing

tools for play

Homeownership isn’t “all work and no play.” If dad has just begun to enjoy his first backyard, there are tools that can help families enjoy their new space. Consider a tool that allows dad to relax and reconnect:

    • A grill or a fire pit could be the perfect gift for dads who like to hang out with the family or entertain outdoors.
    • There are now meat thermometers you can use via Bluetooth from your phone.
    • A rechargeable mosquito-zapper could make any outdoor space less itchy.

And finally, a “tool” for relaxation, after all the hard work dad has put toward creating and enjoying the new home:

    • A hammock, and a few uninterrupted hours to allow dad to use it to the fullest.

The Sam Smith ‘Hi Neighbor’ Homeownership Fund

By: Marc Bartel, HomeSight’s Communications & Marketing Manager

HomeSight Announces New “Sam Smith ‘Hi Neighbor’ Homeownership Fund” –  A Deferred Loan Product Designed for African American First-Time Homebuyers


(Seattle, WA – December 7, 2021) HomeSight, a 501(c)(3) non-profit Community Development Financial Institution and Community Development Corporation, in partnership with Windermere Real Estate, U.S. Bank, and National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), recently launched a new loan product to increase purchasing power and help bridge the affordability gap facing Black/African American homebuyers earning between 80% and 120% area median income in Washington state. The Sam Smith “Hi Neighbor” Homeownership Fund can give eligible borrows up to $12,000 to layer into a mortgage loan to use towards their home’s purchase cost.

Named after legendary Washington State Legislator Sam Smith, who championed the passing of the state’s Open Housing Law barring discrimination based on race and religion in 1967, HomeSight’s new fund hopes to be part of a solution that helps increase Black/African Americans homeownership in the state of Washington.

After working closely with the Smith family, Carl Smith, son of Legislator Sam Smith, said “It’s an honor and a pleasure to have HomeSight use the Sam Smith name for them to pursue equity in home purchases,” Carl continued, “My grandfather instilled in my father that the way to have freedom is to have land and for people in that era, it was freedom.”

According to a report by National Association of Realtors, Black/African American homebuyers are more than twice as likely to be rejected for mortgage loans than white homebuyers.1 Nationwide, only 43% of Black/African Americans can afford to buy a home versus 63% for Whites.2 In Seattle, the Black/African American homeownership rate is 25.8% compared to 50.9% of White homeowners.3 While in King County, the median income for Black households is $48,075, about half the median income of White households at $94,533.4

Windermere Real Estate is the largest regional real estate company in the Western U.S., with over 300 offices and 7,000 agents. Windermere has committed the financial resources of the Windermere Foundation and intends to work with their Agents in the State of Washington to contribute to boost the fund over the next three years.

“After the murder of George Floyd, we got together and decided that it’s morally imperative that we get involved. So, we put Equity and Inclusion as a top priority in the company,” says OB Jacobi, President of Windermere Real Estate. “What we did at Windemere was created a document called Windermere Pillars, focused on effecting change in community and leadership, and one of the pillars was Home Ownership. After meeting with HomeSight, we agreed that the Sam Smith ‘Hi Neighbor’ Homeownership Fund was perfect for us to get behind and push homeownership that can effect change in such a positive way.”

Since 1990, HomeSight has worked to preserve and promote economically and culturally-diverse communities through affordable homeownership, business development, and community advocacy. They believe that communities can only be strong, vibrant, and equitable if homeownership is attainable, cultural anchors can thrive in place, small businesses have access to the knowledge and tools to excel in changing markets, and prosperity is built and shared amongst all members of each unique community.

Nicole Bascomb-Green, VP/Community Affairs Manager, US Bank, NAREB Washington State Chapter President, and a HomeSight board member, has been integral in the creation of the fund. “In my work it’s very important for me that we continue to talk about black homeownership because everyone I knew growing up was a homeowner. Well, we went from having high homeownership numbers during those times and now black homeownership is down to around 28% in Seattle and King County, and that’s just unacceptable,” said Bascomb-Green. She continues, “My work with NAREB is all about democracy in housing, supporting homeownership – particularly black homeownership and other disenfranchised communities, and ensuring we have that capacity to have generational wealth. That’s what this country was built on.”

The Sam Smith “Hi Neighbor” Homeownership Fund is made possible through HomeSight funds and private philanthropy. To learn more about the fund and/or make a donation, please visit: https://www.homesightwa.org/sam-smith-hi-neighbor-homeownership-fund/

(1)(2) A Snapshot of Race and Home Buying in America (2021), National Association of Realtors. https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2021-snapshot-of-race-and-home-buyers-in-america-report-02-19-2021.pdf

(3)(4) The Racial Wealth Divide in Seattle, WA (2021), Racial Wealth Divide Prosperity Now. https://prosperitynow.org/sites/default/files/resources/Racial%20Wealth%20Divide_%20Profile_Seattle_FINAL_3.15.21.pdf

Two Consequential Careers Retire

By: Marc Bartel

On August 18th we were able to have our first event since the pandemic struck in March of 2020, and though we were all excited to see our coworkers, friends, and community stakeholders, it was a bittersweet gathering.  This event was in honor of two of HomeSight’s most dedicated and respected, and now retired members, Tony To and Tom Jacobi.

The evening was full of music, food and flowers from Southeast Seattle businesses, and some fantastic speeches from some well-known HomeSight Alumni, Nora Liu, Tanesha Van Leuven, and Dorothy Lengyel. Dorothy, along with her Husband Tom Lattimore, founded HomeSight in 1990 and was the Executive Director for 14 years, where most of those years she worked with Tom and Tony.

Listening to those who stood up to speak about the retirees, it was incredible to hear the impact they had on former and current staff. With an almost combined 60 years at HomeSight, one can only imagine the amount of community members, clients, and stakeholders who have been impacted by the consequential careers of these two gentlemen. Seeing the dedication to our values, mission, and our professional growth from Tom and Tony everyday really will leave an impact on current and former HomeSight staff members.

Tony, who dedicated 28 years to HomeSight and leaves us as the Director Emeritus said, “I am in awe and will be forever grateful to HomeSight for what we have accomplished together. I leave at a time when the staff, leadership, and board are most representative of those we have served so well. I wish HomeSight the very best in its next chapter of creating impact and changing lives for the better.”

Tom, who dedicated 30 years to HomeSight and leaves us as the Chief Portfolio Officer said, “I want to thank my spouse, Jean Kruzich, and my sons for their support and patience when I needed to work evenings and weekends. I also want to thank my many colleagues at HomeSight and other partners I’ve collaborated with. Without them we could not have accomplished so much for affordable homeownership. When I take a step back from the day-to-day work, it’s with great satisfaction that I look at all we do at HomeSight to provide the opportunity for wealth building for low-income home buyers, it’s what really keeps me going!”

Darryl Smith, HomeSight’s Executive Director, spoke on the retirees at the event and ended his words with this: “Tom Jacobi and Tony To, who combine almost 60 years of affordable housing and development expertise, are two heroes who have built a strong foundation and rich legacy on which we, who remain at HomeSight, will continue to carry the torch.”

Congratulations to Tom and Tony on your well-deserved retirement!

 Essential Southeast Seattle Collective’s New Online Marketplace

 Essential Southeast Seattle Collective’s New Online Marketplace

Contact: Maria Vargas, maria@homesightwa.org

The Essential Southeast Seattle Collective was formed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. After Sarah Valenta from HomeSight saw a need for uplifting voices of Southeast Seattle businesses, she reached out to other business district advocates. Quickly the Essential Southeast Seattle Collective was formed between five Southeast Seattle Neighborhood Organizations. They all pooled resources together to create an online directory of local businesses that remained open during the pandemic. The pilot program was funded by a $50,000 Comcast grant and is made possible to execute with additional support from HomeSight, DEI Creative, and the Seattle Office of Economic Development

 Fast forward to June 2021, the Essential SE Seattle Collective is proud to announce its newest launch of the Essential Southeast Seattle Marketplace. The Marketplace is an e-commerce platform that connects the community, small business owners, and resources without a cost to small business owners. The website now, allows customers to place orders online and it allows business owners to have access and control over their business profile. The Essential Southeast Seattle Collective is encouraging business owners in Southeast Seattle to claim their free business profile. For more information on claiming your free business account please go here essentialseseattle.com/sign-up or contact Maria Vargas at maria@homesightwa.org. The marketplace is open to independent entrepreneurs, cultural artisans, performers, brick and mortar retailers, and food and service-based organizations.

 Historically, Southeast Seattle neighborhood businesses have been underrepresented and under-resourced. This is why Essential SE Seattle Marketplace strives to provide a one-stop virtual Main Street for our community. Whether you are a business owner, neighbor, or visitor, we work to ensure that you can connect with businesses, customers, and resources.  We envision this site as a vital tool for our community to use in the long term to stay connected in an increasingly digital world.

Brooke Gibson – Agent of Change

Brooke Gibson – Agent of Change


By: Marc Bartel

HomeSight believes a community only thrives when it’s given the opportunities and resources needed to create homeowners, build strong small businesses, and root community anchors. That is why HomeSight strives to provide quality, personalized homeownership opportunities for communities around the state and takes an integrated approach to providing technical assistance and resources to communities with low access to opportunity in Southeast Seattle. That way, communities can build shared prosperity in their unique ways and on their own terms. This is our vision for Washingtonians, and sometimes, when our vision comes to life, we are returned with more than the satisfaction.

In December of 2020, we brought on Brooke Gibson as a Loan Originator, but this wasn’t the first time we had met Brooke. A couple years prior, Brooke came to us to get a preapproval to become a first-time homebuyer. It wasn’t long before she met with our Sr. Loan Originator, Ali, went through the homebuying process, and accomplished her “dream of becoming a homeowner,” says Brooke.

Brooke joined HomeSight with an impressive resume that included working for Arizona State University as the Leading Administrative Coordinator in the School of Technology and Innovation graduate office, then returned to Seattle and began to work for the University of Washington for the Department of Microbiology. From there, she moved over to work for the General Internal Medicine Program where she supported the Medical Director and over 20 nationally recognized faculty members.

In 2012, Brooke wanted to further her education – she enrolled as a full-time student at Seattle University, Albers School of Business and in 2015 she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, with a Major in Business Economics and a minor in International Economic Development.

“My final year inspired to me to look beyond how market conditions impact businesses to the shock they have on the most vulnerable members of society,” says Brooke. “Seattle University provided me with a Jesuit education that inspired me to continue to strive for excellence, through the pursuit of social justice for others and in helping to further shape me into an agent of change.”

Shortly after settling into her new home with her family, Brooke decided that she wanted to change her career. She wanted to utilize her degree in economics in a more meaningful way. Motivated by HomeSight’s mission, and her own experience in the home buying process, Brooke passed her Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) and reached out to HomeSight to see if there was a Loan Originator position available.

“I wanted to help other people have a sense of security through homeownership and a path towards generational wealth. I’m from Seattle and grew up in the Columbia City neighborhood. I worked for numerous small business owners in my childhood neighborhood along with the City of Seattle Parks & Recreation Department, so, it was only fitting that I would return to my neighborhood.”

We are honored that Brooke chose HomeSight and our mission as she sought out to be an agent of change in her pursuit of social justice, security through homeownership, and a path towards generational wealth for others – something we strongly stand for.

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