Re/Max Visalia donates a lot for Habitat home

Visalia real estate brokerage also promises sponsorship, manpower to help build Habitat for Humanity home in Visalia in honor of its 25th anniversary in the market

VISALIA – The reason owning a home is an essential piece of the America Dream is not just because it’s an appreciating asset as an investment, it’s also about appreciating a community where you choose to invest your time and future.

Eight years ago, Ana and David Ochoa of Visalia didn’t own much of anything. They didn’t know a lot of people, were struggling to make ends meet and felt like they might become another couple constantly on the move to stay ahead of rising rent. Instead, they got involved with Habitat for Humanity of Tulare/Kings Counties and began donating their time to help others willing to work hard to make their dream of homeownership come true. Their volunteer work to help the organization and their community led to the Ochoas being selected for a Habitat home.

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Habitat volunteers David and Ana Ochoa talked about how the purchase of a Habitat for Humanity home eight years ago changed the quality of life for their family.Photo by Reggie Ellis

Today the Ochoas’ own their own home, a small business in Creative Tree Services, and David sits on the local Habitat’s board of directors. The couple recently shared their story at the April 20 groundbreaking for a new Habitat home being built at the corner of NW 1st Street and Pearl Street in Visalia.

“All of your donations and hard work build homes for people who have a dream of buying a house,” David said. “Sometimes that dream is far out there but with you all it is possible.”

The lot for the home at 320 NW 1st St. was donated by Re/Max Visalia, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in the Tulare County real estate market. The home will be completed with the sweat of the agents of Re/Max on site and in step with the selected homeowner. Additionally, contractors and industry businesses will be encouraged to join in with contributions of money, materials and labor.

“Giving is part of wealth building and the more you give the more you get,” Re/Max Visalia broker and owner Ed Evans said. “We have been blessed with so much business that we feel this is just a token of our appreciation.”

Re/Max will be donating the lot and raising cash and contractor support to fund the project. Donation levels include: Craftsman Sponsor $550, Foundation Builder $1,500, Wall Raiser $2,500, Roof Raiser $5,000, Community Builder $10,000, Master Home Builder $25,000.

Re/Max agent Olga Duran told a story of a woman had volunteered with Habitat for more than 22 years whose family had just paid off their Habitat home last year.

“It’s a satisfaction to be able to give back to the community,” she said. “It takes all of us to be able to build this house.”

Architect Thom Black said the design of the home took into account the character of other homes in the neighborhood and the overall cost of building the homes to make it as affordable as possible. The need for affordable housing has not changed; if anything, it’s become even more pronounced. Today, one in six families pays half or more of their income on rent or mortgage, often choosing between paying for housing or for nutritious food, reliable transportation or healthcare needs.

“Your home shouldn’t cost you half your paycheck, and your home shouldn’t cost you your health or your children’s education,” said Deanna Saldana, resource development director for the local Habitat. “Working with the team at Re/Max Visalia, and other businesses in Tulare County, brings people together to raise walls and help a local family build strength, stability and self-reliance. Affordable housing is so important and this gives us all an opportunity to make a real difference.”

Habitat’s homebuyers invest hundreds of hours of their own labor, called “sweat equity,” working alongside volunteers and other Habitat homeowners. This helps lower the cost of construction which in turn buys down the mortgage to make it more affordable. Habitat homeowners also receive financial education to help them organize and prioritize the repayment of their home loan.

Work days will be organized through the year as this home is built for a special Visalia family. To volunteer for the Visalia build, contact Deanna Saldana by calling 559-734-4040 x 106 or emailing [email protected].

“These homes are transformative for the family,” Habitat executive director Dirk Holkeboer said. “This becomes a home and not just a place to stay. The most exciting day is when we come back here and do the wall raising. It’s not just about buying a house but building a partnership and, long term, a community with Habitat.”

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