Matched savings, education put homeownership dream within reach

Teenagers are better known for their spending habits than for their saving habits.

Jonathan Ginsberg was different. He was saving for a house when he was a freshman in high school. The American Dream was his dream: “Just a place to settle down with my family … a house out in the country, nice and quiet.”

Toddler beings read to on father's lap
Jonathan and Abraham Ginsberg and Kim Koch in their home in Sullivan

He laughs and rolls his eyes. Quiet? At the moment, his house is anything but. Two-week-old Sophia, who just woke up, squeals in the arms of his partner, Kim Koch. Two-year-old Abraham chatters and clatters trucks around the living room floor.

The home, located on a gravel road in Sullivan, N.H. is perfect for a young family. There’s a big deck and a back yard strewn with toys, a couple acres of woodlot, three bedrooms and a spacious living area upstairs and an apartment for Jonathan’s mother downstairs.

Four years ago, Jonathan had a part-time job as a mental health worker. He and Kim lived in an apartment in Keene with one of his adult clients. They were ready for their own space.

He learned about Individual Development Accounts (IDA) at a Cheshire Housing Trust homebuyer seminar. IDAs help people with limited incomes save for a home, education or a car, by matching the money they save.

Jonathan saved $200 a month from his paycheck, then kept on saving after he qualified for the maximum IDA match. By 2012, including the money he’d saved since high school, he had nearly $17,000 to put toward a home.

Using lessons he learned in the homebuyer class (large houses are costly to heat, stay away from balloon mortgages …), he and Kim found a fixer-upper. His large down payment and his new job at Brattleboro Retreat qualified him for an additional loan for renovation and repairs. His mortgage payment is less than rent would be for a similar-sized apartment in nearby Keene.

Jonathan is grateful both for what he learned from the homebuyer class and for the boost the IDA gave him toward a down payment.

“I thought I knew it all at that point, but when I left that class I felt a lot more knowledgeable,” he said. “The program is definitely worth doing, especially for young families.”

This story was published in the Community Loan Fund's 2013 Annual Report.