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Metro area city officials proclaim June as Homeownership Month

June will be Homeownership Month in Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo, Dilworth and Horace after elected officials from the cities jointly signed a proclamation Wednesday, May 26.

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West Fargo Mayor Bernie Dardis speaks on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, at the Home Builders Association of Fargo Moorhead offices in south Fargo. David Samson / The Forum
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FARGO — City officials from Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo, Dilworth and Horace gathered to proclaim June as Homeownership Month in the metro area Wednesday, May 26, at the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead office.

The move is in line with the National Association of Home Builders, which has declared June to be National Homeownership Month . The Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce also hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the renovation of the Home Builders Association's office at 1802 32nd Ave. S. in Fargo.

Putting pen to paper on the proclamation were Fargo Deputy Mayor Dave Piepkorn , Moorhead Mayor Shelly Carlson , West Fargo Mayor Bernie Dardis , Dilworth Vice Mayor Julie Nash and Horace Councilmember Chelsey Johnson.

Also in attendance was Kim Hochhalter, president of the Home Builders Association, who called homeownership a "central component to the American life."

"Every city within the metro has strategies and services to make that dream an attainable reality," she continued.

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Carlson listed several programs both Moorhead and the state of Minnesota offer to new home buyers. The Minnesota Hosing Finance Agency offers down payment and mortgage assistance to first-time buyers.

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Moorhead Mayor Shelly Carlson speaks on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, at the Home Builders Association of Fargo Moorhead offices in south Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

Additionally, the city offers it's "Make Moorhead Home" property tax rebate, Carlson said, which is a two-year incentive for new buyers or builders which can save $7,000. The city also has a $5,000 no-interest and no-payment loan to be used for special assessments and an all-access recreation pass which has an estimated value of $2,000.

Both Dardis, Johnson and Piepkorn referenced high-profile projects in the metro area which make it a more attractive destination for prospective buyers: the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion and Horace High School.

Johnson said the Horace High School will offer families in the city a much easier routine in the morning. "When I graduated from West Fargo High, us Horace kids had a long drive into town in the mornings to get to school," she remarked. "Now my kids will have a lot safer commute and I'm very excited about that."

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Horace Council member Chelsey Johnson speaks on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, at the Home Builders Association of Fargo Moorhead offices in south Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

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Dardis credited Piepkorn and Carlson's work with the Diversion Authority Board in helping make the project a reality, saying it will benefit all metro area residents. "We've been working very very hard to provide that type of protection and it looks like that's going to become a reality," Dardis said.

Dardis also thanked local contractors in attendance for their "phenomenal" investment in metro area houses despite the COVID-19 pandemic and spiking costs for building materials such as lumber . "I recently went out and bought some two-by-fours and two-by-sixes and God bless you people for what you're going through right now," he commented, referencing steep increase in materials costs.

Carlson reported that 133 building permits were issued for residential houses in Moorhead in 2020, while Dardis said 341 homes were constructed in West Fargo despite it being a "down year for us."

Because the COVID-19 pandemic turned homes into offices for adults and classrooms for children, Dardis called homeownership a "critical part of how our society has dealt with what's gone on in this past year."

Hochhalter told The Forum that she predicts the housing market will bounce back from the pandemic because of the area's job opportunities and new businesses.

"We're catching up," she said. "All of the industry is catching up, so I believe that looking forward into the future, things will level out a little bit better for everybody and people should feel confident in our area."

Johnson also noted the economic impact the housing market has in the metro area.

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"A strong housing market means a strong economy," she said. "First-time home-buyers means a growing community with opportunities for success."

Piepkorn said homeownership "builds equity and loyalty to our communities."

Businesses have taken note of the metro area's positive attributes and have opted to launch or grow in the area, Hochhalter said.

"We have a very strong community and a good work-ethic here, so we have businesses moving here and starting out," she commented, adding that she believes the area's universities and workforce academies are supporting budding industries.

Both Nash and Piepkorn said it is a source of pride when a home buyer decides to move to the metro area.

"Homeownership is the core of what we see as our community," Nash said. "I think each of us as elected officials have an extra sense of pride when someone picks our community to build their home in or to purchase a home."

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Fargo Deputy Mayor Dave Piepkorn speaks on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, at the Home Builders Association of Fargo Moorhead offices in south Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

"To me, it's a vote for us when somebody decides to live in your community," Piepkorn added.

Hochhalter has seen several people move to the metro area for considerably longer than they had initially planned.

"I've been in the home-building business for 33 years and one of the things that I have found is that we'll get somebody that's moving here to work at a company for two years," she said. "They'll tell us, 'We're only going to live here for a couple years," and 15 years later I still see them here."

It's a credit to the communities in each of the metro area's five cities, she opined. "I would say that anybody that's looking at moving here, once they get here they'll just fall in love with it," she concluded.

Readers can reach InForum reporter Thomas Evanella at tevanella@forumcomm.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella

Thomas Evanella is a reporter for The Forum. He's worked for The Forum for over two years, primarily reporting on business news. Reach him at tevanella@forumcomm.com or by calling 701-353-8363. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella.
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