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TruePath Mortgage: A Best-Kept Secret for Home Buyers and Sellers

TruePath Mortgage: A Best-Kept Secret for Home Buyers and Sellers

Jen LaCroix, Open Market Lending Manager, and Steve Stinson, Junior Community Loan Officer, recently sat down with John Mazzara of RE/MAX Results to talk about Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity's lending program, TruePath Mortgage. A client of John’s bought a home with Twin Cities Habitat and had such a great experience that John was moved to create a series of videos on his YouTube channel to inform clients about what Twin Cities Habitat has to offer.

Jen and Steve shared with John that Twin Cities Habitat is best known as a builder of homes, but “We’ve evolved a lot in recent years,” Jen said. They came up with a way to help more people by providing affordable mortgages for first-time homebuyers buying any home on the open real estate market—not homes built by Habitat. We founded our own wholly-owned nonprofit mortgage company, TCHFH Lending, Inc., which offers the TruePath Mortgage. Jen, Steve, and the Lending Team team work to offer homebuyers an affordable mortgage, defined as a mortgage with a payment that’s 30% or less of their monthly income.

Jen said, “We work to remove obstacles for first-time homebuyers. We can assist with closing costs, down payments, and below-market interest rates.”

“The most important thing for prospective Habitat clients to know about our program is that there are no secrets. Our intake process for qualified participants takes about six weeks, after which a prospective homebuyer comes into our lending department. We do conventional loans but at a much more affordable interest rate because we are a CDFI lender.”

Mortgage signing

A Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) lender is a nonprofit financial institution dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to help low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people and communities join the economic mainstream. Read more about Twin Cities Habitat’s wholly owned CDFI mortgage company.

As Jen and Steve explained to John, Habitat’s Homeownership Program has a series of requirements that include homeowner education, income guidelines, and a savings requirement. You must live in and intend to purchase in the Twin Cities seven-county metro area. Many property types are eligible for this program. In addition to single-family homes, we work with condos, townhomes, and multi-family properties of up to four units. The purchaser must be the primary occupant of the home. We are in the first phase of a new Advancing Black Homeownership program which has more flexible requirements for qualifying Foundational Black families.

Photo of Habitat homeowner family

Pairing Habitat’s Program with Other Homebuyer Assistance

TruePath Mortgage is also “stackable” with funds from Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) and other county or city programs. Private lenders go through MHFA to get funds. Habitat’s program already includes MHFA funds, which we distribute in-house after the loan has closed. We can partner with anybody else—downpayment assistance from the City of Richfield, for example. Some programs don’t accept other partners; we do. We do a lot of our financing by stacking whatever is available. Right now, most of our pre-approvals include about $70,000 in assistance. TruePath Mortgage also works well for homebuyers who require Sharia-compliant financing.

“It’s all about removing obstacles,” Jen said. “We do not require private mortgage insurance, and our interest rates are usually two points lower than conventional lenders. Our job is to get and keep clients in affordable houses for the long term.”

Steve noted how much we look forward to working with different cultures and diverse communities. “The cultural competency here at Twin Cities Habitat is through the roof,” he said.

“We meet people where they’re at,” added Jen. "With lower credit scores, we refer clients to our coaching department to get them mortgage-ready. If we give clients the right tools, they can get ready to be a homeowner."

Kathy and David family photo with kids

Getting Started

The first step for a prospective homebuyer is to complete our eligibility form to determine if you meet our program guidelines. Once you complete the questionnaire, you’ll receive a response within 30 minutes. There is a misconception that we work only with low-income clients, but we work with a lot of moderate-income homebuyers—teachers, nurses, and gig workers. If someone completes our program, we give them several options of lenders they can work with including our TruePath Mortgage.

Realtor Concerns

As a real estate agent of 37 years, John has a lot of experience working with both buyers and sellers. As a seller's agent, he knows how important it is that the seller and their agent feel confident in the prospective buyer's ability to close the deal--a pre-approval is great, but it's not a guarantee. For John, one of the benefits of Twin Cities Habitat's program is knowing that clients are well vetted, so a pre-approval letter from Habitat gives him confidence that the sale will go through. Habitat’s TruePath Mortgage lending program is a “best-kept secret” for prospective homebuyers, sellers, and agents.

Jen shared this message for selling agents: “It’s easy to be skeptical when you see Habitat on the pre-approval letter and make an assumption that the buyer is low-income/high-risk. I get questions that I would never see in the private mortgage banking world. When you see a pre-approval letter, know that we are diligent and our loans always close.”

Jen went on to explain that when homebuyers go through the mortgage process, they’re not going to get approval in 24-48 hours; that’s not how we work. By the time homebuyers come to our lending department, they have provided three years of tax returns, three months of paystubs and bank statements, and they have taken eight hours of mortgage education, and received a HomeStretch certification. By the time homebuyers get to us, they’re fully prepared for the financial realities of homeownership.

Many of our first-time homebuyers are so eager that they want to waive their home inspection. They can choose to do so, but we always do our own walk-through and appraisal to ensure the home is in good shape and that they buyer will be able to enjoy it for the long term.

“We are a homeownership organization, not just a lender,” said Jen. “We take time to educate the homebuyer about what information we need and why, and to set expectations about when things will be done. We have benchmarks for every step of the process that we communicate to the homebuyer.”

Next Steps

If you’re a real estate agent, be sure to join the Habitat Realtor Network to get more information about how to support your clients through our Homeownership Program. Also be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get information relevant to your clients.

If you're a prospective homebuyer, you can learn more about the affordable TruePath Mortgage process and requirements. Then, we invite you to complete our Eligibility Form for next steps.

Watch the full interviews: Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity Programs ExplainedHelping First-Time Homebuyers Achieve Homeownership, and Qualifying and Applying for Twin Cities Habitat programs.

unlock your potential - truepath mortgage - low interest rate, no down payment, affordable monthly payments

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