Local newcomers benefitting from alternative housing plan

Requity Homes offers a rent-to-own program for families who don’t qualify for a mortgage

It’s no secret that in today’s housing market, owning a home is a faraway dream for many.

But a young couple, who relocated from Colombia to the Sault in 2021, are less than two years away from owning their dream home – and they’re already living there.

The couple joined Requity Homes last September, a northern Ontario real estate start-up offering an alternative path to homeownership for those who don’t qualify for a mortgage.

Jose and Maria Andrade are like many younger couples in the Sault: he works in the hospitality and auto sector, she’s a student at Sault College, and together – they’re still paying monthly rent, but with a catch.

Requity Homes is a rent-to-own program where the company buys the house so their clientele can move in right away. Requirement will hold it for a two- or three-year period while the occupants create the background they need to traditionally finance the house.

Clients like the Andrades will have the option to buy the house back later after they’ve saved for their down payment one month at a time.

Despite not having any Canadian credit score before arriving at the Sault last year, the couple finds themselves on a path to being mortgage-ready by the summer of 2024.

“We didn’t try with the traditional mortgage because we are temporary residents, so for banks, we are a risk,” Maria Andrade says. “We are working on our credit scores in order to apply for a mortgage, and hopefully, we will be permanent residents at that time.”

Requity Homes CEO Amy Ding says their target demographic is geared towards self-employed or new business owners, as well as immigrants and newcomers who have a stable income like the Andrade’s.

“If you’re self-employed in Canada, you typically need two years of operating history to qualify for a traditional mortgage,” she says. “And if you’re new to the country, forget about getting a mortgage at all because you don’t have a Canadian credit history, and it takes time to establish that history.”

Requity is in four cities across the north: Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, and Thunder Bay. The program has recently grown in Saskatoon and Regina in Saskatchewan as well, with intentions to continue expanding across the country.

Jonathan Mogg, the president of the Sault Ste. Marie Real Estate Board, says it’s challenging to save for a down payment while paying rent at the same time and explains a program like Requity helps eliminate that problem.

“This gives people the opportunity to save up for a down payment while you’re renting,” he says.

“When you do go to qualify for that traditional financing in two or three years, you have both your down payment and the history that it takes to traditionally finance the house,” she adds.

Mogg notes the solution is temporary and not as affordable as dealing with a bank, but he’s happy to see locals have another option to own their dream house.

“Programs like this haven’t been very prevalent,” he says. “It’s good to see there’s people thinking outside the box. It’s opening up home ownership to a wider demographic, and to us, that’s the most important thing.”

While the Andrade’s are still adjusting to the Sault, the couple is incredibly grateful for this kind of opportunity in a housing market that’s made it so difficult for first-time homebuyers.

“We as immigrants have fewer options for buying a house, but this program is perfect for people like us or people who are starting to build a credit life,” Maria Andrade says. “I invite everyone to follow their dreams because there is nothing better than having and living in their own home.”

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