After Episcopal

Home-Buying Made Simple, Inc.

Ruffin Mitchener ’11 launches a start-up to help those navigating their first real-estate purchase.
What is equity? How do mortgages work? Who is FICO, and why should I care?

If you are between the ages of 21 and 38 and these are questions you can’t answer, you are not alone! Though research by the National Association of Realtors notes that Millennials were the largest home-buying age group in 2019 – they made up 37 percent of home buyers — just 17 percent of Americans know the minimum down payment to purchase a home. What’s more, only 19 percent of renters feel confident about the mortgage process.

That’s where Ruffin Mitchener ’11 is stepping in to help. With her new blog and home-buying consulting business, Balsa (, Ruffin is making it her mission to educate first-time homeowners on the intricacies of navigating the real estate market.

Growing up in Charlotte, N.C., in a family of real estate professionals, she learned from a young age the importance of investing in real estate. When she moved to Los Angeles in 2017 to work for the real estate technology company PeerStreet, she started looking to buy her first home and quickly realized that she did not know as much about homeownership as she thought.

“It was extremely overwhelming and really opened my eyes to how little I knew about the process,” Ruffin says. “I started to think maybe there is a big problem with financial literacy, specifically as it relates to homeownership. It didn’t really seem like it was something that people in my age group were really thinking about or talking about.”

In August, Ruffin started business school at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, where the entrepreneurship program has helped her realize her dream of starting her own business. Armed with the theoretical knowledge gained from her business courses and the practical experience of buying a condo in L.A., Ruffin set out to help other young home buyers get started on the road to owning their first homes.

With recent blog posts on the basics of mortgage lingo, the truth about tax breaks, and five steps to owning your dream home, Ruffin hopes to spread the word and bust some of the myths about the home-buying process. Other offerings from Balsa include one-on-one goal-setting sessions with Ruffin, consultations in which clients are paired with agents in their desired city, and a webinar series on the fundamentals of home-buying.