top of page

How might we help people in NYC easily calculate and understand their homeownership costs?


The client

The Center is a non-profit organization based in NYC focused on promoting and protecting affordable homeownership. They work with local housing counselors to educate people and guide them through their home buying journey.

The problem

While many online resources for homebuyers and homeowners exist, none of these resources are tailored for NYC buyers. These resources also do not take into account an individual’s anticipated income and expenses.

Our goal was to build a user-friendly tool for low-to-moderate-income consumers in New York City. This tool would provide personalized results based on the individual’s household budget.

My role

The UX team consisted of mainly 2 people. I worked alongside a senior researcher to conduct user interviews. All the wireframes and visual designs were created by me in close collaboration with stakeholders and developers.


3 months


Web (Responsive)


Paper & Pen, Whiteboard, Post-it Notes, Sketch


What do we know so far?

In order to steer the stakeholders to think about the high-level goals, we brought them in one room and asked them to individually note their top 3 goals, needs, and success metrics for the project on different post-it notes. This activity led us to establish the project goal and priorities. 

“Our top goals are to educate and empower potential LMI home-owners to understand what’s affordable, to increase financial planning and reduce foreclosures, and to position the center as a leading resource in home buying.”

During this activity, we started to get a peek into what our users might look like. We decided to create a proto-persona, that would be later validated and updated after talking to users.

Brainstorming with the team
Proto persona
Brainstorming with the team

Deeper insight into the home buying journey

Our goal was to understand how users approach the process of home buying and what information do they already possess. In addition, during our conversation with stakeholders, we learned that housing counselors are closely involved in the process of home buying. 


We conducted remote interview sessions with stakeholders, housing counselors, and recent homeowners.


stakeholder interviews


housing counselors


recent home owners

Summarizing what we learned

We evolved our primary proto persona to include details that would guide our design efforts.


After talking to housing counselors, we started to recognize them as our secondary users because we learned that they often work closely with potential home buyers and help them decide their budget.


Not surprisingly, most people we talked to felt that home buying is a long and tiring process. More so because first time home buyers are not familiar with all the terms and formalities involved in the process. However, I was surprised to learn that most people are not aware of all the free help and resources available to them.


What will make this tool usable?

In order to understand the factors that will lead to a successful product for The Center, I looked at all competitor tools. Based on my understanding of the user group, I started listing down all the factors that would make this tool useful for them:



  • Friendliness - “Am I able to understand and easily input data?” 

    • Humanized language and explanation of terms


  • Navigation - “Do I know where am I in the process

    • Visibility on how many steps are remaining


  • Memory - “I forgot what I entered in the previous step

    • Clearly see information/inputs from previous sections


  • Results - “Am I able to understand the results?” 

    • Explain results, broken down into smaller pieces


  • Overall feel - “Is this too overwhelming?

    • Placement of different UI elements

Initial wireframes

How does this journey begin?

I explored a few ways a user can start using the tool. Based on the type of user and his familiarity with the costs, I came up with different options that we later discussed with the team.​

Get started
Get started

At which point do we need more information from the user? How much information is required?

I wanted to make sure we do not overwhelm the users with too many questions and options, especially towards the beginning of the process. 

General information
General information
General information

How might we know their target housing budget?

It was challenging to come up with a reasonable flow and took various iterations to get it right. Are we asking too many questions on a single screen? Should this question appear before or after we know the type of house they want to buy? 

Monthly housing budget
Monthly housing budget
Monthly housing budget
Monthly housing budget

Final designs

After various rounds of iterations based on team and user feedback, we designed a tool that can fit in a home buyer's journey and assist him or her to make the right decisions.

Get started
Income & expenses
Housing Budget
Homeowner expenses
Mortgage details

Next steps

Because of the short term of this project, we decided to only add basic functionality to the tool and add additional features after receiving feedback from a wider audience. This tool will act as a foundation for future projects and can be scaled to fit in a larger narrative. 



At first, diving into the world of home buying and ownership seemed intimidating to me. But after spending a few hours learning about the topic and with constant feedback from the experts (clients and housing counselors), I'm proud to have created a tool that will help so many people make the right decisions.


This easy-to-use tool will educate and empower potential low-to-moderate income home buyers, help them understand what’s affordable. The additional links to home-buying resources in this tool will not only help users but also help position The Center as the leading resource for home buyers in New York City.

bottom of page