Building Homes, Building Hope

Green Team Realty Gives Back to Lake Agassiz Habitat

Green Team Realty Gives Back to Lake Agassiz Habitat

By Bridget Heacock

With over 25 years of experience in the fields of real estate, marketing and business ownership, Tracy Green, owner and founder of Green Team Realty, is a knowledgeable and vivacious leader for her company.

Tracy Green and her team of 6 team offer real estate services to buyers and sellers within the Fargo Moorhead area. Green Team’s 6 hand-picked staff members come with extensive insight of the Fargo Moorhead area, creating a cohesive dream (Green) team!

Their mission is to help people find the perfect space for their home or business while making the process an easy, fun and pleasant experience. The agency will turn 3 years old on April 2nd, an exciting milestone they hope to share with community partners, past clients and new clients to come.

Tracy has a deeply rooted love for her community of Fargo/Moorhead having lived in the area for 40 years. She sees first-hand how there is a serious need for affordable housing in Fargo/Moorhead. “It’s getting harder and harder to buy an affordable house in our community. In the business of real estate, we help people put a roof over their head like Habitat aims to do.”

Tracy and her staff are excited to give back to the Fargo/Moorhead community and create an original partnership with Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity.

With each house sold by Green Team Realty in 2015, the agency will donate $100 to Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity. In addition to this generosity, the agency plans to publicize their planned contribution using social media and on each home’s for sale sign.Green Team has been an excellent sponsor and community partner with Lake Agassiz Habitat events such as Tour de Habitat 2015.

The "Green Goddesses" from Green Team Realty                           at Tour de Habitat 2015

Tracy’s advice for other businesses on how to give back: “Just do it. Find a passion your staff connects with and make room for it in your budget. As a business you’re making your livelihood on your community; you make it better by giving back.”

If you’re looking to purchase a home in the Fargo Moorhead area this year, consider partnering with Green Team Realty. Proceeds from every home sold by Green Team Realty in 2015 will be donated to Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity. 

http://www.greentmrealty.com/

The Ins and Outs of Home Preapproval

The Ins and Outs of Home Preapproval

By Bethany Sortland, guest writer from Alerus 

How do you get preapproved for a home? Buying a home is a life changing investment that we all dream to obtain. I can share with you a few steps to take that will improve your chances to make your dreams come true.

First, let’s work on improving your credit. How do you do that? Well, there are many factors that go into the restore of your credit score, but he most important to remember are:

  • Make sure your bills are always paid on time.
  • Try to keep inquires to a minimum. Only apply for credit when needed.
  • Any revolving debt, such as, credit cards or lines or credit; keep the balances low.
  • Try not to refinance often. Work towards paying off unless the deal makes sense.

It is also beneficial to seek advice from someone who is financially responsible, your bank, credit union, or a financial advisor. Taking these steps will provide you with positive results. Keep in mind that it does take time to raise a score if it is low.

What if you have no credit? The great news is there are a few options to build credit!

  • Ask your bank or credit union help you obtain a prepaid credit card. This works the same as a typical credit card except you add a security deposit. Do not spend more than you can afford.  Pay off in full every month.
  • Find someone you trust that has established credit to cosign with you for a small personal loan.

It usually takes around a year to build up credit. You want to be able to show your potential lender that you have positive payment history.

Next, I would encourage everyone to check their credit quarterly. There are several free resources online, such as, www.creditkarma.com and www.annualcreditreport.com. These are both free websites, where you can learn about the factors determining your score. Correct any errors you find, and stay on top of it. From experience, I have seen many discrepancies on credit reports, which have had long term negative effects for several people.

If you find a discrepancy, there are some steps to take in order to remove it from the report.

  • Gather all information about the company who has reported something incorrect. Call them to find out details on their claim.
  • If they are unable to help. Contact all 3 credit bureaus; Equifax, Experian, and TranUnion. You will have to mail in disputes to each company. They will be able to direct you how they would like the dispute handled.

It is not easy to correct a mistake but will help you with your process to purchase a home. Be aware of every detail on your credit report. This alone could make or break the lender’s decision.

Third step to take in fulfilling your dream goes hand in hand with the prior point. Work towards decreasing your overall debt to improve your debt to income ratio (DTI). This tends to be very difficult for many of us and may seem impossible. But, you can do it! Here’s how…

  • Make more than the minimum payment. I cannot stress how important this is.
  • Focus on paying off one bill at a time. Start with the lowest balance or highest interest. Whichever makes the most sense to your situation.
  • Look at a part-time job dedicated only to paying off bills.
  • Ask your financial institution about a consolidation loan. They may have more reasonable interest rates

These are just a few ways to improve your DTI. It is possible, but it will not happen overnight. So, make is your goal. Consistency over time is an important factor in lowering your DTI. Determination is everything.

Lastly, try to increase your down payment to insure you get the loan size and payment you are looking for. If you are able to put down 20% of the loan amount you will not have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance premiums monthly. This will reduce the total cost of your monthly payment. When you are able to contribute a sizable down payment lenders will be more eager to move forward with the loan. 

If you follow these steps I know you will experience success achieving your home purchase goal.  Good luck to all of you!

“It’s not necessary to fear the prospect of failure but to be determined to not fail.” –Jimmy Carter                

Canine Companions: Friends for Life

Canine Companions: Friends for Life

Written by Amanda Wurtz

The scurry of furry feet, followed by a few kisses after sitting on the couch is a common occurrence for Jennelle Bichler. Even the guests are subject to the friendly treatment.

Bichler, a Fargo resident, is one of 50 Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity homeowners. Jennelle, her boyfriend Doug and her three children Jabaz, 18, Damaraha, 18 and Chaz, 15, gain so much joy from the three dogs. The family canines are: Ike, a Great Dane, Izzy, an English bulldog and King, a pug.

"I've had King for 6 years and I got Ike about 2-1/2 years ago – not too long after we moved into this home, which was in December 2011," explained Jennell."I've always wanted a Great Dane, they are protectors but kind too."

In preparation for the Gentle Giant, as the breed is nicknamed, Jennelle and her family put up gates in front of the stairs and at the entrance to the laundry room, installed plastic corner guards and made cabinets for storing shoes and winter hats and gloves. They also made the back corner into Ike's sleeping area with his special wall designs in his honor. When he was a puppy, Ike would go into the closet back there and play. 

Jennelle's Great Dane Ike about to drink from the water faucet. The 2-1/2 year old dog is about 3 ft tall and 200 lbs 

 

 

Now, Ike is about 3 feet tall and 200 pounds. His large stature and boisterous bark can startle strangers walking in the yard. He's a protector but also can act like a large toddler – even carrying his orange blanket around the house, according to Jennelle. "He has his way of throwing fits and trying to get his way. And, he loves playing with Izzy and tries to play with King." Izzy, born in September, loves taking part in the antics, while King would rather watch.       

Jennelle's heart is filled with contentment as she talks about her trio of dogs. From the time she was young, she has had family members who are furry friends. The canine companions have often been rescue dogs, including King. "He was a breeder but he was in bad shape and we nursed him back to health. I fell in love with him though and I took him in. I've had him ever since."

King and Izzy take some time to relax on the couch

 

Izzy, who has a black and brown coat with white stripe down her face, was taken in just a few weeks ago. "We wanted a dog that would be kind and fit in well with the family. Izzy loves being with people."

The three dogs are it for now. It's a full house. "Three is our limit."

The personal limit was one at the last place they lived, an apartment in Fargo. The ability to have more beloved dogs is just one of the many reasons why she and her family are thankful for their current home. "This was our last chance, our last hope for a home of our own." 

The 4-bedroom home is a much healthier environment for her children, whose personalities are able to flourish because they have their own living space. Jabaz, who has ADHD and Chaz, who has Asperger syndrome, were sharing a room and fought frequently because they lived in close quarters. Damaraha is now able to play outside in the yard, especially with this home being in a safer neighborhood.

The dogs are a reflection of their new life, a life that is happier for the whole family. "We are so grateful for the Habitat for Humanity home. It is a hand up and not a hand out. It's a huge help."

Jennelle works with her dogs King, a pug, Ike, a great dane, and Izzy, an English bulldog, to pose for the camera.

Our Staff and Volunteers have a HEART for Habitat

Our Staff and Volunteers have a HEART for Habitat

By Bridget Heacock

This year, Lake Agassiz Habitat crossed a major milestone of building 50 homes for local families in the Cass/County area. Not only that, but just last week, LAHFH raised over $22,000 in donations during Giving Hearts Day. These major achievements push our staff and volunteers forward to build more homes and more awareness for families in need. Our staff and volunteers not only play a huge part in the inner workings of LAHFH, but have a huge heart for the organization as a whole. Learn why our staff and volunteers give their time and heart to Habitat!

"I love knowing that our efforts are keeping reusable materials out of landfills."

-Alison Streyle

“I volunteer for Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity because they are a genuine organization that wants to directly impact and take care of our community. It is so great to be a part of an organization that brings people together to serve others and put God’s love into action. They are a true blessing to the Fargo-Moorhead area.”

-Emalee Hedberg

"I love promoting an organization that does so much for the community."

-Shelby Cochran

"I love that Habitat gives back to the community through affordable housing and building materials!"

-LaRissa Nelson

"Habitat has a goal to provide a decent place for all to live. The work that is done each and every day by Habitat volunteers and staff members is to provide affordable housing for local families. Habitat doesn't just gift a home. However, Habitat does makes dreams come true and creates homes in our community. I’m proud to volunteer for the Habitat!"

-Heidi Knutson

“My favorite thing about Habitat for Humanity is the sense of community and family merging!”

-Amber Zolondek

     

PR Committee Members (left to right): Heidi Knutson, Emalee Hedburg, Ryan Courneya

     

PR committee members (left to right): Adam Bishop, Katie Sullivan and daughter, Angie Ryan

     

ReStore committee members (left to right): Alison Streyle, Sherri Smith, LaRissa Nelson

       

Left to right: Shelby Cochran (ReStore committee member), Ove (ReStore floor manager), Marti (ReStore staff member)

      

Habitat office staff (left to right): Handy the Habitat Bear, Bridget Heacock (Marketing VISTA), Pete Christopher (Resource Development Manager)

  

Habitat office staff (left to right): Jackie Mattfeld (Partner Family Services and Volunteer Coordinator), Rob Rich (Exectuive Director)

A heartfelt THANKS to our dedicated volunteers and staff!

4 Galentine’s Day DIYs You Can Do with Your Gal Pals

4 Galentine’s Day DIYs You Can Do with Your Gal Pals

by: LaRissa Nelson

If you’ve seen the TV show Parks and Recreation, you might be familiar with the best day of the year. February 13th, better known as Galentine’s Day, is a day for women to celebrate their friendships with their girlfriends—by brunching together, sharing gifts with each other, or just spending quality lady-time together.

So why not start your own Galentine’s Day tradition by crafting together? Gather up your gal pals and create these projects that have the flair of your favorite Parks and Rec leading ladies. You can make them with items you’ll find right at ReStore.

 

Leslie-Inspired “Key to My Heart” Art

Image via NBC

Leslie is the queen of puns, cute things, and ridiculously thoughtful, personalized gifts. So it’s only fitting that she’d make this adorable framed art using a collection of antique keys, some paint, and a lot of heart.

 

Ann-Inspired LOVE Letters Craft

Image via NBC

Ann is Leslie’s best friend, beautiful tropical fish, and poetic, noble land-mermaid. As a nurse, she’s compassionate and caring. And this LOVE letters craft made with upcycled materials fits her personality perfectly.

 

Donna-Inspired Gold-Brushed Table

Image via NBC

TREAT. YO. SELF. It’s Donna’s motto. She loves the finer things in life—fragrances, massages, mimosas—and she’d adore this gold-brushed table. Give your girlfriend’s living room a chic makeover with this shimmering upcycled table that only LOOKS like it cost you a fortune.

 

April-Inspired Pallet Dog Bed

Image via NBC

Okay, so April isn’t exactly a people-person—and she’s not afraid to admit it. But one thing she DOES love is animals—especially her three-legged pitbull, Champion. You too can show your pet some love by creating this cool dog bed out of a pallet.

 

Happy Galentine’s Day from ReStore! Habitat for Humanity ReStore is located at 210 11th Street North in Moorhead, Minnesota. Our hours are 10:00 am – 6:00 pm Tuesday through Friday and 10:00 am – 4:00 pm Saturday. Visit us online at lakeagassizhabitat.org, or find us on Facebook under Lake Agassiz Habitat ReStore.

Gear Up for Tour de Habitat 2015!

Do you need a little bit of extra push to get GOING this winter? Sign up for Tour de Habitat on March 7th and start moving! It’s a fun day to spend with your team of friends, family, co-workers, or church groups and will benefit the community.

What Is Tour de Habitat?

Tour de Habitat is an annual stationary bike race and fundraiser. 30 teams of six riders take turns to pedal for 10 minutes. Tour de Habitat is held at 12pm on Saturday, March 7, 2015  at Courts Plus Fitness Center in Fargo.

All proceeds of Tour de Habitat go towards building homes for families in need in Cass and Clay Counties in ND and MN.  T-shirts will be given to all participants. Prizes will be awarded for the most money and most miles and more. Many teams even start a friendly competition with an opposing team to see who can earn the most money or pedal the farthest!

Why Should I Volunteer?

Besides getting some exercise, spend a fun Saturday afternoon leisurely pedaling and cheering on your teammates as you work together to make a lasting difference in the lives of local families.  By raising funds from family, friends, businesses and church groups, you will raise not only much needed dollars to support Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity, but also awareness in our community about the families that are in need of a place to call home.

Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity’s goal to raise $50,000 this year through Tour de Habitat to support the construction of homes with low-income families in Cass and Clay counties in 2015.  We need you to help make a difference!

How Do I Start a Team?

Here are 4 steps to start planning for the race:

  1. Form a team of six riders and designate a team captain.
  2. Make it fun! Come up with a team name, create a theme, or even challenge another team.
  3. Set Fundraising Goals: $250 minimum per cyclist ($1500 for the team). Then ask for help reaching your fundraising goal.  Ask your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, book club members, business associates, holiday card list, etc. to help you help Habitat.
  4. Register your team by February 11th, 2015 and set up your fundraising website.  If you need assistance, call LAHFH office at 218-284-5253 ext. 2

Are you up for the challenge? Awesome! We are pumped to see your team petal for families in our community on March 7th!

Thank you to our 2014 Tour de Habitat Event Sponsors!

      

FM AM Rotary Lobstars Comstock Lutheran Church Road Warriors for Habitat The Grannies

 

7 Craft Projects to Cozy Up Your Winter

7 Craft Projects to Cozy Up Your Winter

By LaRissa Nelson

Do you love everything about winter, from sparkling snow to warm scarves and hot cocoa? Or are you impatiently waiting for warmer weather to arrive?

No matter how you feel about winter, make the most of it with these 7 DIY craft projects. From festive snowmen that celebrate the season to fresh flower boxes that bring a little early spring into your home, these projects will help brighten up the cold winter months. And you’ll find almost everything you need to make them right at ReStore.

1. Snowman Screwdriver

Even if you don’t like snow, it’s hard to deny that snowmen make for delightful décor. Make this easy snowman decoration with an old screwdriver, some paint and craft supplies of your choice.

 

2. Flower Box Centerpiece

Bring some cheer to your dining room table with this flower box centerpiece made of reclaimed wood. Fill it with seasonal berries and pinecones—or flowers for an early touch of spring.

 

3. Wooden Snowman Family

For another cute craft made out of scrap wood, try this wooden snowman family. All you need is wood, paint and fabric for hats and scarves, and this family will keep you company all winter long.

 

4. Winter Window Wall Hanging

Upcycled windows can make great statement pieces. Paint your window wall hanging with a winter scene full of snowflakes, trees, birds and more!

 

5. Ornament Display Box

Do you have a favorite ornament that you wish you didn’t have to put away with the Christmas tree? Make a display box out of vintage drawers and show off your ornament all winter.

 

6. Let It Snow Sign

If you love the snow, this is the perfect craft for you: A “Let It Snow” sign made from an old cabinet door. Paint it your favorite colors and hang it on a wall or display it on a shelf.

 

7. Snowman Shutters

Paint and decorate a pair of old shutters to create these cheerful snowman shutters. They’re the perfect place to display the holiday cards you received this year.

 

Habitat for Humanity ReStore is located at 210 11th Street North in Moorhead, Minnesota. Our hours are 10:00 am – 6:00 pm Tuesday through Friday and 10:00 am – 4:00 pm Saturday. Visit us online at lakeagassizhabitat.org, or find us on Facebook under Lake Agassiz Habitat ReStore.


 

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Building Hope

It was the 60’s in Americus, Georgia when the first inklings of what is now Habitat for Humanity took shape. On a small community farm called Koinonia, a farmer and a biblical scholar practiced the art of sharing goods, seeking to put God’s love into action. The scholar, a man named Clarence Jordan, met a couple named Millard and Linda Fuller who shared a similar mission. Together they developed the idea of “partnership housing.”

The idea was that those in need of adequate housing could work alongside volunteers to create affordable homes. The houses, built at no profit, would be paid for through no-interest loans provided by supporters. Fundraising would be pooled to build even more homes. They called it “The Fund for Humanity.”

Dream became reality when the first concrete-block home was given to a couple, Beau and Emma, and their five kids. They had a modern kitchen, indoor bathroom and heating system -- much different from the unpainted, uninsulated shack with no plumbing where they had previously lived.

After taking their mission global to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and then returning to the United States, the Fullers officially launched Habitat for Humanity International in 1976.

The Fullers in Zaire.

Today, over 40 years later, this global organization has helped build, renovate and repair more than 1,000,000 affordable houses. These homes are now sheltering more than 9.8 million people worldwide.

Locally, Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity (LAHFH) is proud to be a part of this global story that is changing lives.

LAHFH strives to eliminate substandard housing right here in the Fargo/Moorhead community by constructing and rehabilitating homes for low income families. We believe that every man, woman and child should have a simple, durable place to live in dignity and safety. We believe that decent shelter in decent communities should be a matter of conscience and action for all.

With the generous support of donors and volunteers, LAHFH has made a lasting and meaningful impact in our community by helping local families realize their dreams of home-ownership. We have served 55 families, by constructing or renovating homes in Cass and Clay Counties.

This Giving Hearts Day, we want to open even more doors for our partner families. To do this, we’ve determined that a donation of just $24 will purchase one doorknob. This is how YOU can help open the door for a local family so they can have a safe affordable place to call home.

On February 9, 2017, your donation will be multiplied by Western State Bank, First Lutheran, Olivet Lutheran and other generous donors. It the best way to show your support, and maximize your gift.

Join Lake Agassiz Habitat, and #givewhereyoulive this Giving Hearts Day, by giving HERE on February 9!