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James’ Homeownership Story

ESL Celebrates First ESL First-Time Homebuyer Grant Recipient

In August 2021, ESL launched the ESL First-Time Homebuyer Grant, a new solution exclusively for Black and Latino first-time homebuyers allowing eligible home buyers the ability to earn $10 in grant dollars1 for every $1 saved over the minimum 6-month savings period. This unique grant product seeks to advance racial and ethnic equity throughout Greater Rochester via one of the most important wealth-building tools there is—homeownership.

Congratulations to James, the first ESL First-Time Homebuyer Grant recipient! Hear more about his experience obtaining the Grant and his homebuyer story below.

James stands with ESL Business Development Mortgage Originator, Mike Priset

How did you first hear about the First-Time Homebuyer Grant with ESL?

I was in the Chili branch and saw a pamphlet about the grant program. I then sat down with someone at the branch who took my phone number and a few days later someone from the Mortgage department gave me a call—that’s how I signed up.

How did this grant assist you with your purchase?

The grant was very helpful to help purchase the house I’m in. I used the grant to help with closing costs.

How did you feel about going through First-Time Homebuyer Grant to purchase your home? What did the process look like?

It is a great feeling. I recommend the program to anyone. No complaints. Everything was explained to me. [The grant] really helped me and everyone one at ESL was helpful along the way.

I had to put $175 into an account each month for six months straight. At the end of the six months, ESL put in a match of $10,500.

What does owning a home mean to you?

It’s a different feeling. I lived in apartments for the past few years. There’s something different about owning, a different feeling. You can’t call a maintenance guy to do it for you!

Tell us about the buying process—what was your search like?

I looked at houses every other day. Put in multiple offers, and this was the house that I really wanted. I love having the space, the garage, three bedrooms, driveway, and backyard space.

What surprised you/what did you learn about the buying process?

I learned about how putting in offers on a house works. I learned you can get outbid on a house. If you lose a bid, you start over and then have to put another offer in on another house. I thought if I put in offer, I would get it.

What advice do you have for other first-time buyers?

I have three things: Go through ESL. The ESL First-Time Homebuyer Grant is a good program. Even though it takes six months, it’s worth it.

Also, don’t forget there are many other people putting in bids. Say you see 10 houses, if you like five houses, put in offers. That way you can have options. I had put in offers on three houses before getting this house.

How did ESL help you with your grant/financing?

I worked with Mike Priset. He gave me a preapproval and told me how much I could afford. I had several questions and Mike was able to answer all of them. He helped me out a lot whenever I had a question. One of the most important questions was if I could buy single or double. He helped me understand the single was the way to go.

What advice would you give others interested in the ESL First-Time Homebuyer Grant?

Make sure you have some money saved, that your credit is good, and can put $175 a month for six months to get the full savings match.

Note: buyers can opt for lesser monthly contributions in exchange for a longer savings period (e.g., 10 months and $105 saved per month) to reach $1,050 saved.

Learn more about the ESL First-Time Homebuyer Grant

1: Maximum grant amount of $10,500.

ESL reserves the right to change the terms and conditions at any time, without prior notice. The Household also fully understands that the limited funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis and even if the Household meets all of the terms and conditions this does not guarantee that there may be funds available at the time that the Household qualifies. ESL, in its sole discretion, may refuse to honor a ESL First-Time Homebuyer Grant funding request. The Household further agrees that any proceeds, which will not be, or cease to be, used for the purposes approved by ESL will be recaptured and the unused, or improperly used, grant will be returned to ESL. The Household will also acknowledge receipt of a copy of these terms and conditions.