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First Montanan Takes Advantage of New Home, Down-Payment Gift

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A single mother from Missoula is the first to take advantage of a new program in Montana that gifts you a down payment for your home.

When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is not true,

This is not one of those cases.

McKenzie Kaiser and her daughter Berlyn walk across the threshold of the first home they've ever owned

McKenzie Kaiser, new homeowner, says, "C'mon Love!"

It’s a home that could be in a painting, and it paints a picture of big changes in their lives

Berlyn Kaiser, McKenzie’s daughter, says, "I like it.  It’s big."

McKenzie says, "It's bigger than what we had right?"

Berlyn answers, "And I have my own bathroom."

"You do,” says McKenzie. “How cool are you?!"

And how cool is this?  McKenzie, 28, a single mom, bought the home with virtually no money out-of-pocket.

Her down payment was gifted to her by the Montana Idaho Community Development Corporation, or MICDC.

Melanie Callahan, MICDC, says, “The program is call the HomeNow Down Payment Assistance Program.  It is for borrowers who are looking for a little bit of help with their closing costs and down payment so they can get into a home."

Here’s how it works:  The MICDC gives you up to five-percent of a home's sales price.  This is enough money to qualify for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage through FHA, VA, HUD or Rural Development.  Your income has to be within those program guidelines - - about 70-thousand dollars a year for a family of four - - you must have a minimum credit score of 640 - - the home must be your primary residence - - and it must be in Montana.

Melanie says, “People just generally don't have that chunk of money sitting in savings.  Or even if they do, when they go to buy a house, it wipes out their savings account."

In fact, a recent survey shows 30-percent of Americans have a zero balance in their savings account.  62-percent have less than a thousand dollars in savings.

Julie Latham, Mann Mortgage loan originator, says, “It's exciting!"

Latham found McKenzie her loan.  She says the MICDC's program is different from other no-down payment programs because a down payment is made, and it doesn't need to be paid-back.  That means from day-one there is equity in the home.

 “This new mortgage payment is not a lot different than what she was paying in rent,” says Latham.  “And for her to build equity and have that as an asset one day is huge."

Moving day for McKenzie.  She only has to take a couple of steps to give us a tour of her 800 square foot apartment,

"Having a kid and living in an apartment is not ideal,” says McKenzie.

As McKenzie stands in her new home, she says, “Just knowing that we've got somewhere - - I don't have to move for another five to seven years - - she can stay at the same school - - it's great.  It means the world to me."

Berlyn is most excited to have her own bedroom and bathroom, she's already planning her first sleepover.

McKenzie says to Berlyn, “It's good to have somewhere to come home, huh?"

A home to call their own.

Montana is one of only about 20 states that has a program like HomeNow. It’s now available everywhere in the state.

You can go to to sign-up.

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