NeighborWorks News

NeighborWorks Names New Homeownership Center Director

NeighborWorks Names New Homeownership Center Director

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

NeighborWorks Great Falls is pleased to announce the promotion of Laura Bolstad to Homeownership Center Director! Laura has been with NeighborWorks Great Falls for over 15 years in various roles - most recently, as a Homeownership Planner, specializing in foreclosure and reverse mortgage counseling. Laura will be replacing Karen Nebel, who retired last month after almost 20 years of service to NeighborWorks.

“I have had the opportunity to be included in the growth of NeighborWorks Great Falls and the changes necessary to keep our mission alive. I am excited to bring my experiences at NWGF full circle and continue to help individuals and families reach their homeownership goals! I look forward to maintaining and establishing community partnerships along the way!”

Laura’s passion and vision for our Homeownership line of business stands out and we couldn’t be more excited to see her excel in this role. Join us in congratulating Laura!

40th High School House Completed

40th High School House Completed

Friday, May 18, 2018

NeighborWorks Great Falls and Great Falls Public Schools celebrated the completion of the 2018 High School House yesterday with students, teachers, and the support of many community members. This year Great Falls High and CMR Students worked together to build the home. Students from both schools worked throughout the school year to build the home from the ground up located at 2108 6 th Ave South. Interior design students choose the finishings of the home. Each year, four students, two from CMR and two from Great Falls High are chosen as Student Builder of the Year and Design Student of the Year. This year’s winners from CMR included Joel Lorang as Student Builder of the Year and Teagan Tabacco as Design Student of the Year. Great Falls High winners included Thain Johnson as Builder of the Year, and Brynn Dart as Design Student of the Year. All four students received a plaque for their accomplishment and $100. Great Falls Public Schools’ Student Culinary Program also participated by providing appetizers and desserts for open house guests. NeighborWorks would like to thank the many community partners involved in making this project possible year after year.

About The High School House Program

NeighborWorks Great Falls was founded in 1980 with a mission to revitalize the city’s historic neighborhoods, provide affordable housing and help residents become first-time homebuyers. A primary strategy in our work is collaboration with local partners, and one of the most significant examples of this is our High School House program.

NeighborWorks Great Falls joined forces with Great Falls public schools to create the program, which provides new homes for residents with low or moderate incomes and gives high school students valuable employment skills. The students provide the labor while NeighborWorks supplies the lot, arranges subcontractors and finances the construction. We also work with potential homebuyers to get them mortgage-ready with homebuyer education, individual homeownership planning and down payment assistance through a matched savings program.

For more information on the High School House program:


Is Homeownership Right For Me?

Is Homeownership Right For Me?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Should I rent or buy?

The decision to rent or buy depends on your financial situation, your lifestyle, how long you expect to remain in a certain area, the prevailing mortgage rates and rents in your area, and many other factors.

If you’re a renter, it can be frustrating to write a rent check every month and have no home equity to show for it at the end of the year. But if you aren’t certain that you’re going to stay put for a few years, it’s probably not the right time to buy—equity or no equity. You should not buy property and automatically assume that you’ll be able to rent it out or sell it when you move.

Ask your NeighborWorks homeownership planner for his/her assessment. There are also a myriad of tools available online to calculate the financial benefit of renting or buying, depending on your situation.

How will owning a home change my life?

Owning a home takes time and hard work and it is perhaps the greatest financial investment you may ever make. It’s essential that you protect your new asset through home safety precautions, sound household budgeting, and regular home maintenance. As you pay down your mortgage over time, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are building equity for the future. You also will gain pride in ownership, personal stability, potential tax benefits and be a part of building a stronger community.

How much home can I afford?

The amount of money you can afford to pay for a home depends on many factors, including your income, your debt, your monthly expenses, the amount of money you can contribute to the purchase up front, among other factors. The maximum dollar amount that a bank will agree to lend you should be the upper limit; in most cases, it is advisable to borrow less than this amount.

There are many calculators available online to help you get a general sense of what you can afford on sites like Zillow,, and others. These sites take a look at your TOTAL debt when calculating what your maximum home purchase price. When looking at your total debt (your house payment plus any other monthly debts you might be paying), most lenders consider your total monthly debt to be sustainable when it is 36% or less than your gross monthly pay.

There are many factors to consider when deciding between renting and buying, at NeighborWorks we recommend meeting with our homeownership planners as your first step. Our free appointments will allow you to look at your credit, budgeting habits, affordability factors, financial assistance you may qualify for and ultimately how to make your homeownership goals a reality. Create a homeownership profile to get started!

Getting Started: NeighborWorks Customer Portal

Thursday, December 07, 2017


Step 1: Get to our Customer Portal

There are many links throughout our website to get you to our customer portal - the most prominent being the "Create a Customer Profile" button on our homepage - or by clicking the "Login|Create Account" in the upper right-hand corner. From here you can just click here - we'll open it in a new tab and you can create your account while follow along.


Step 2: Create an Account

By selecting the "Sign up Now" button you will be taken to the page below where we gather very basic information about you and where you are in the home buying process. Fill out this information, click "continue" and fill out the information on the following page - then click "Create Account".


Step 3: Check your Email

Our system will have sent you a confirmation email. This email will be from - simply select "Confirm your Account". This step is necessary to move forward.

A window will open prompting you to create a password for your account. Your password must be at least 8 characters long and have a mix of letters and numbers. Once you've decided on a password select "Set Password".


Step 4: Complete your profile

Once your password is set and you are in your profile you will see a button on the center of the screen to "Complete your Profile" - click on this. You will be asked a series of questions allowing us to understand your needs and goals regarding homeownership. You can track your progress through the percentage bar at the top. Most of these questions are required, so please take the time to answer all questions. All answers are confidential information. After the last page select "Save".


Step 5: Go to the "Appointments/Classes" tab at the top of the page

Choose the date you'd like to attend, and click register. After clicking register, the site will prompt you to fill out your credit card information in order to pay and reserve your spot. Our site is secured through Stripe payment processing.

Once you've paid you are all set!

If you'd like one on one guidance with our homeownership planners check your email - you should have a received an email prompting you to follow a link to sign a disclosure document and also instructions to upload your most recent pay stubs under the "My Documents" tab.

Problem signing up?

Give us a call or send us an email - we are happy to help!


Budgeting - What to Include, Why, and Where to Start

Budgeting - What to Include, Why, and Where to Start

Monday, November 13, 2017

What is a budget? A budget is a plan for your money. It allows you to track the money going in and out of your household. A budget can also help you prepare for large or unexpected expenses, encourage savings, identify wasteful spending, and help you accomplish financial goals, such as becoming a first-time homeowner, or improving your credit report.

Why do I need a budget? The single most powerful tool to improve your financial situation is to understand your financial situation – where your money is going and how and why you spend it. By laying out all of your expenses and goals, a budget breaks down the steps to financial improvement into day-to-day spending and savings habits. This will let you take control of your finances in order to accomplish your goals.

How do I create a budget?

  • There are numerous resources and tools that can help you construct a budget, such as,, and others. A more personalized approach can be had by working with a NeighborWorks pre-purchase planner to create a budget that is right for you.

    The basic steps to establish a budget, or spending plan, are as follows.

    • Determine your monthly net income – the amount that you take home each month after taxes, withholdings, etc.
    • Calculate your monthly expenses.
      • Fixed expenses stay the same every month – like rent or a car payment.
      • Periodic fixed expenses are paid periodically for goods and services, like car insurance, water, electricity, etc.
      • Flexible expenses change from month-to-month – groceries, entertainment, and travel.
      • Indebtedness expenses are debt for goods and services bought on credit. Credit card debt, student loans, and car loans are common types.
      • NeighborWorks Tip: It can be helpful to simply record all of your financial transactions for a month or more, so you can see where your money is actually going. Compare this to the expenses you have calculated.
    • Subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly income.
      • If expenses exceed income, plan to reduce debt and increase income.
        • Flexible expenses are often the easiest to reduce – cut back on discretionary spending for entertainment, meals out, etc. Distinguish between ‘wants’ and ‘needs.’
        • Pay down high-interest debts first, especially on credit cards. These debts cost you more the longer you owe them.
      • If your income exceeds your expenses, begin saving.
        • Start with an emergency fund - enough money to cover your basic living expenses and debts for a period of 3 to 6 months.
        • Retirement savings - 401(k) or IRAs are a good place to save money for retirement.
        • Savings for big purchases, like a down payment on a house, or a new car!
    • Evaluate your plan.
      • Which financial habits/circumstances are easiest to change? Which are the hardest? Is a house worth giving these things up?
      • Are you ready to implement this plan right now, or are there other things you want to do first?
    • If homeownership is your goal and it appears to be within reach, set a savings goal: buying a home. Compare your monthly budget against the upfront and ongoing costs of buying a home. These can include:

      Upfront Costs: down payment, inspection, appraisal, closing costs, escrows, reserves, and moving costs

      Ongoing Costs: Mortgage payments, utilities, maintenance and repairs, common charges, and emergency funds.

      Seems like a lot? Get in touch with NeighborWorks! We'll help you step by step to achieve your dreams of homeownership.

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