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Affordable Home Ownership Resources with Realtor Ann Rachein

Couple buying home

As one of the top real estate agents in her area, Wisconsin realtor Ann Raschein volunteers her time in home ownership education. Serving on the board of both Habitat for Humanity of Dane County and the Homebuyers Roundtable of Dane County, she is committed to giving all families the opportunity to join a community as a homeowner. Through her blog, she also shares tips, resources and the most up-to-date information about industry trends.

If you’re in the market for a home but struggling to make ends meet, the home-buying resources below are sure to prove helpful.

What drives your passion for home ownership and helping all people who want to be homeowners achieve their goal?

“Home” is so much more than a roof over your head and 4 walls. It is security and safety. It is where you help children with homework, throw pop flies in the backyard, bake birthday cakes, invite friends to gather and truly rest and relax. Everyone who dreams of owning a home should have the tools to make it happen. I am honored when I get to be part of that process!

Where do people on a budget begin when it comes to buying a home?

The first place to start is with a mortgage lender—someone who will be your advocate during the preparation process and through the entire transaction. If you don’t know whom to use, talk to your local credit union or bank. Ask friends and family for recommendations. Ask other professionals for referrals. Talk to several people until you find someone you are comfortable with on this major journey.

Your mortgage lender should first discuss what you are currently paying for rent and housing expenses. They will then help you find a mortgage pre-approval number that you are already comfortable paying. Your lender will also help you set up a budget so you are prepared for when the furnace needs repair or when you might be able to tackle a remodel project.

Do people without a substantial down payment have other options?

Yes! So many first-time homebuyers assume that you must have 20% of a down payment to purchase a home. That is likely not the case. There are several mortgage programs that might require as little as 3% down. And there are programs that might allow for less down or down payment assistance. Be sure to ask your mortgage lender if they are well versed in down payment programs or other programs such as options for veterans that might help in your home ownership process.

How do you suggest people decide when home owning versus renting will be affordable and “worth” it for them?

First consider if you are prepared and interested in all that home ownership has to offer. For example: How do you feel about mowing the lawn? If you live in the north, what are your plans for large snow falls? What if a pipe starts leaking in the middle of the night? Do you have the desire and resources for what home ownership requires? If you just aren’t sure about general home maintenance, consider taking a free class with an organization such as Project Home.

Plan to talk to your mortgage lender to determine if home ownership is “worth” it. You might learn that buying a home means no more summer vacations or sticking to a strict grocery budget versus occasionally eating out. And maybe this sacrifice is okay or maybe it is time to reconsider how you prioritize your lifestyle.

Along the lines of affordable housing, what is your opinion of tiny homes and/or accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on their properties? Do you consider this a viable trend?

Tiny homes and/or ADUs haven’t really hit [our] area. Zoning and financing these types of homes will need special attention. My experience is that many buyers want to simplify their home. They are looking for smaller spaces with less maintenance. I see this trend at all ages and price ranges. Many people are deciding that they want to spend their weekend elsewhere and less time mowing or doing DIY projects.

Any final thoughts?

It is important to get a team of professionals on your side. Find a mortgage lender that understands your goals and has experience with programs that might be applicable to you. Work with a real estate agent who is a full-time professional who has time, energy and expertise for a home search that best suits you. The right support is crucial, so don’t rush this part of the process. Take time to interview, ask for reviews / testimonials and decide what feels most comfortable for you. Your team is your group of advocates and you want to be sure everyone is working together to help you achieve your goal of home ownership!

More Homeowner Resources

Want to learn more? Browse the below list of government programs that will work with lenders to help first-time homebuyers and buyers on a budget:

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loans and Down Payment Grants


An agency within the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the FHA can work with lenders to offer some homebuyers competitive interest rates, smaller down payments and lower closing costs.

Down Payment Assistant Grants
The FHA has compiled a list of just some of the grants available to homebuyers here:


HUD Good Neighbor Next Door Program

The Department of Housing and Urban Development lists properties by state that can be purchased by people in certain professions, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and teachers.


Veterans Administration

VA loans are available for either veterans or those in active duty and can save you from having to save up for down payment at all.


US Department of Agriculture and Urban Development

The USDA works with lenders to help people with low incomes purchase homes in rural areas.