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Bruinsma Family

Bruinsma FamilyBruinsma Family


Another REO HOMES FOR THE WORKFORCE success story….


Theo Bruinsma doesn’t move around a lot. Until he, Meili and the kids (Sophia and Simon) moved to their Northbay Family Homes “green renovated” townhome in Novato in July 2011, Theo had lived in the same Mill Valley apartment since 1989.

The Bruinsma’s are thrilled with their new home, but the old Mill Valley place still holds lots of family memories. Theo lived at the old address with his brother during his college years when he “waitered” at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley to pay his tuition. In 1998, Theo was still at the Mill Valley address as he began his career in airport security with the Department of State and later moved on to work with other Federal Agencies. After getting married a year later, Theo and Meili stayed at the Mill Valley address and started their family. But, by about 2006 things were changing. Theo said: “The Mill Valley place was great, but as the kids grew, we were getting cramped and the comings and goings of the younger tenants just didn’t seem to fit our life style any longer. We were wondering what to do.

It was about that time that the Bruinsmas decided it was time to get serious about homeownership. They registered on the housing lottery lists for the County below market-rate homes (BMRs) and Hamilton properties, and came close several times. However, though the entire period from 2006 to 2011, they were just not making progress. Theo explained: “It just seemed like we were always caught in the middle…we weren’t successful with the lotteries or getting approved and we just couldn’t find other homes we could afford. While the representatives at the Marin Housing Authority were great, we found it was difficult to find people in the broader marketplace that would truly help us or who we could trust.”

And, that is where Northbay Family Homes and its sister organization Suburban Alternatives Land Trust came in… 

One day the Bruinsmas received a flyer (courtesy of the Marin Housing Authority) announcing a new homeownership program, REO HOMES FOR THE WORKFORCE, being offered by two non-profit homeownership organizations…Northbay Family Homes and Suburban Alternatives Land Trust. The flyer explained that bank foreclosures were being purchased, renovated with “green” energy saving appliances and features and then offered to moderate-income families in the community. Anyone interested was asked to call Northbay Family Homes for information and to get preapproved for a loan.

The Bruinsmas contacted Northbay Family Homes and went through the PreApproval process. Even though there were no homes currently available, Northbay stayed in touch and continued to update the Bruinsma’s PreApproval Letter through its alliance partner, Wells Fargo Bank. Theo continued: “Then one day we received a call from Northbay saying that a townhome they had told us about earlier was now available for immediate purchase in Novato. Although renovation had not started, they said we could come and see it. The funny thing was that Meili’s parents had come to live with us just a few weeks before. We were really cramped for space at that point”.

The timing was perfect! The Bruinsmas set an appointment and the Northbay Family Homes broker showed them the townehome the next day. Theo continued: “Even though renovation had not started, Northbay described the energy saving features and upgrades being planned. We immediately knew it was for us! We had already been preapproved by Wells Fargo for a loan and Northbay Family Homes helped us write up an offer the same day.”

Renovation continued for several weeks. Through the process Northbay Family Homes and Suburban Alternatives Land Trust worked closely with the Bruinsmas to answer questions, help with finish selections and to perform the necessary steps for an orderly and successful sales, financing and closing process. Said Theo and Meili: “We just couldn’t have done all this without the support of Northbay Family Homes. We immediately felt we could trust them…they were our advocates! We are very thankful and blessed to have found Northbay Family Homes and to finally be in our new home!”

It was an exciting time once the family got settled in. Northbay Family Homes planned a small celebration so community partners who had helped make REO HOMES FOR THE WORKFORCE possible (like Wells Fargo Bank and the Marin Community Foundation) could welcome the Bruinsmas to their new home. However, the local media got wind of the Bruinsma’s unique success story and asked to attend the event. The Bruinsma’s graciously opened their home to representatives of the local press including: The Marin IJ, The Novato Advocate, The Novato Patch…and a couple of day’s later found themselves featured on Channel 5! Theo and Meili said they hope many other families will be encouraged by their personal story and will turn to Northbay Family Homes for homeownership help.

So what do the Bruinsma’s like best about their new home? Well there is no doubt Theo and Meili like all the upgrades and energy saving features. They also enjoy the peace and quiet of the neighborhood. And, they like the convenient location including, among other things, the quick trip to Costco! Sophia likes her own bedroom and all the space. Simon likes it all too…especially having their own yard! And when there is a yard, lots of things become possible…like having a pet! Yes, you guessed it, there has been an addition to the family: Trooper, a rescue dog from Costa Rica.

The Bruinsmas are truly HOME in Novato!

By the way…remember that Mill Valley apartment?  Meili’s parents are living there happily and close by for visits with Theo, Meili and the grandkids…a ”win-win” for the entire Bruinsma family!



Through the REO HOMES FOR THE WORKFORCE program, Northbay Family Homes and Suburban Alternatives Land Trust are committed to full renovation of family homes including “greening” of each home to assure increased energy efficiency. The Bruinsma’s renovated townehome is conveniently located with easy access to transit and services. The list of upgrades includes new energy efficient appliances, double paned retrofit windows and increased insulation. Other improvements included new kitchen cabinets, new doors, upgraded bathroom vanities and fixtures…making the remodeled home “like new”. NFH and SALT hope to offer as many as 18 additional renovated homes in Marin County in the near future.

CEO Clark Blasdell explained the mission of Northbay Family Homes and Suburban Alternatives Land Trust: “There are far too many foreclosures in the market today and cash investors are out there buying them up, doing superficial upgrades and turning the properties into rentals. First Time Buyers find it very difficult to compete. Our objective is to make sure homeownership continues so our neighborhoods will be stable and secure. We do this through our REO HOMES FOR THE WORKFORCE by offering “green” renovation homes to families…or through our IT TAKES A TEAM homeownership program by providing the tools to help a First Time Buyer compete and purchase other properties in our community.


What is the IT TAKES A TEAM homeownership program?

The Northbay Family Homes’ “IT TAKES A TEAM” program helps prospective buyers be more competitive in the broader marketplace through: 1) education and counseling, 2) obtaining PreApproval Letters, 3) help in reviewing down payment and assistance programs, 4) introduction to alliance lenders and alliance real estate professionals, 5) assistance in monitoring new listings as they come on the market and 6) generally coordinating the process to “make homeownership happen”.

Prospective buyers working with the IT TAKES A TEAM program may be eligible for REO HOMES FOR THE WORKFORCE homes as new rehab properties become available. Call us to learn the details.


How to inquire about our REO HOMES FOR THE WORKFORCE and IT TAKES A TEAM programs….

For additional information about available homes under REO HOMES FOR THE WORKFORCE program…or how our IT TAKES A TEAM program can work for you in the broader marketplace, please contact: Terry Ward at 415-382-2545 or terry@nfh.org.