How one Toronto couple navigated the transition from renting to homeownership thanks to Options for Homes
Before she heard about Options for Homes, Kamiko Rodwell was losing hope that she’d ever become a homeowner.
Like a lot of people, she wasn’t fortunate enough to have “$50,000 or $70,000 just sitting in a bank account somewhere.”
Kamiko tried to buy a home together with her brother in 2012, “and we kept getting outbid. It was near impossible.” Later, while she was working on Caribbean cruise ships as a retail worker, she met her future husband, a technical producer for the onboard entertainment named Chris.
They were enjoying an exciting career with good incomes, but it still wasn’t enough to give them a crack at the tough Toronto housing market. Without financial support, Kamiko says, “I literally don’t know how people do it.”
So, when she wasn’t at sea, Kamiko lived at her mother’s place. “And nobody,” she says with a laugh, “wants to be in their thirties living at their mom’s house.”
Then, in 2014, Kamiko and Chris heard about Options for Homes and learned about how it offers access to down payment support in the form of a shared equity second mortgage. It sounded good to them. “If you do not have the down payment, I think [Options] is a definitely viable option to get into the real estate market. And it wasn’t difficult.”
The buying process with Options went smoothly. “The person who was selling the units was accessible and was able to answer questions. Going to all the meetings, leading up to breaking ground, was great.”
With $50,000 in down payment support in addition to the funds they had saved up, they chose a two-bedroom unit at Options’ Danforth Village Estates development.
Fast forward a few years and Kamiko and Chris have two children, and roots in a great community. They’ve even paid back their shared equity second mortgage. Today, Kamiko feels more financially secure. “We’re saving to make sure that we have backup plan money for a worst-case scenario. Because [now] we can put money away,” she says. “How do I feel as a homeowner? I guess more adult.”
Kamiko is keen to pass the feeling of financial confidence to the next generation. “My mom’s been a lifelong renter. My dad as well. So, I’m the first person of my little immediate family to own a home. It’s definitely something that I want to make sure that my kids have the opportunity to have as well.”
Kamiko says she wants other people to have the same chance, too. She laughs, “I tell my brother, ‘You need to get in, you need to get in.’”
“I’m the first person of my little immediate family to own a home. It’s definitely something that I want to make sure that my kids have the opportunity to have as well.”