A Place to Call Home: A First-time Home Buyer Success Story


In 2012 long-time couple Matt Whipple and Susan Nichols married. Shortly thereafter, the couple struggled to find financial security and a place to make their permanent home. Together, they were determined to support one another and build a stable future for themselves in Orange County.    

Matt, a lighting artist for the gaming industry, found himself struggling to secure steady work that didn’t require him to relocate to another state or endure a grueling commute to a neighboring county. For this reason, they decided to relocate to Orange County after more than ten years of living in Los Angeles.

Susan also faced tough decisions of her own.  Having worked as a Children’s Program Director for over ten years at an art studio, Susan found herself taking a cut in pay for a position at the company’s Irvine location. This sacrifice enabled her husband to be closer to job opportunities in the growing technology industry of South Orange County.

Both had clearly made sacrifices to continue doing the thing they loved most as creative individuals. Despite having only one steady income and with the cost of rents rising, the couple resolved to stop paying $1750 for their two bedroom apartment and become first-time homeowners. While searching for real estate property, Matt and Susan fell in love with a NWOC owned NSP-2 property in Lake Forest, and were determined to make it their home.


In the fall of 2014 the couple took their first step towards homeownership and met with Education and Training Manager, Sahara Garcia for coaching and soon after completed a HUD-approved homebuyer workshop. Even with money saved for a down payment, the couple was only able to afford the property after receiving additional down payment support, including $80,000 from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

Surrounded by nature, the Whipples now enjoy all the perks of their own 2 bedroom condo in Lake Forest, including daily walks on the nearby trails and sailing at the clubhouse. “We’re so grateful for this place. We feel like we live in a treehouse!” Susan exclaims.


Proving homeownership can be achieved at any age, the Whipples no longer fear being far behind their family and peers, and have finally achieved not only permanent stability and a chance to build future wealth through their investment, but as Matt explains, “After 20 years of living in California, we finally have a home instead of just a place to live. That’s enormous for us”.  



Photos by Erica Medrano