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New home rewards a mother's determination

By Archive

Maria and her family sacrificed comfort—spending chilly nights in an unheated pop-up camper—to save the last few dollars to buy a home.

As I’m sure many of you do, I start my day by checking the outside temperature so I know how to dress. I like gadgets. So I have a wireless transmitter that sends the temperature to a monitor on a window sill right next to where I make coffee.

In mid-September, as the temperature dropped from one day to the next, I was thinking of something other than clothing options. I was thinking about Maria, her husband and their teenage son, about what it must be like to wake up in a pop-up camper with no heat at that time of year.

Pop-up_camper_in_fall.jpgMaria came to us as most home loan applicants do, with an email or a phone call asking about our Welcome Home Loans for manufactured homes. Those messages or calls typically come to my fellow loan originator, Ron, or me. We describe the loans we offer, the terms, and the application process. Maria listened, then went to work.

Meticulous application

I had her application package on my desk the following week. A couple of things about it stood out.

The first was that it was 100% complete. We ask for a lot of information and documentation from our applicants and Maria got it all right the first time–not a common occurrence.

The second thing I noticed was the impeccably neat handwriting. She has the kind of penmanship that’s just pretty to look at, with all lower-case letters at exactly the same height. My handwriting is kind of a controlled scribble, so I tend to notice and appreciate legibility.

Despite its completeness, despite the meticulous handwriting, we couldn’t approve Maria’s application. She owed too much on other bills to be able to add a mortgage payment. I called Maria with the bad news, but suggested that she apply again if she could decrease her debt or increase her income.

We identified a few accounts that had relatively low balances that she might pay off to lower her monthly debt. Again, Maria went to work.

About a month later, a second impeccably organized application package with that neat and perfectly proportional handwriting appeared on my desk. Maria had paid off the accounts we had discussed, and had asked for and received a raise. This time I had the pleasure of calling her with an approval!

Negotiated down payment

At some point in our conversations with borrowers, we always touch upon aspects of our program that might allow them to buy a home with as little out-of-pocket expense as possible. I explained to Maria that the home seller could contribute up to 3% of the purchase price toward her down payment and, in addition, pay all of her closing costs. If Maria successfully negotiated those terms her only out-of-pocket expense could be 2% of the purchase price.

I also explained that by the time we closed on the loan she needed to show that she had enough cash on hand to cover two months’ worth of housing expenses. Maria wanted specifics. She needed to have our best estimate of the funds she would need to close the loan.

About 45 days went by before I heard from Maria again. She had put a deposit on a home, and the seller agreed to cover the full 3% toward the down payment and all the closing costs.

All that was left was for her to buy homeowners insurance, pay to have the house appraised, and verify that she had put two months’ housing expenses aside. Once again, Maria wanted to know exactly how much money she needed.

Camping

In late September I received an email from Maria. She and her family were living in an unheated pop-up camper to save the last few dollars they needed to buy the home. And it was starting to get cold! Nighttime temperatures marched closer and closer to freezing as the week progressed.

Each day, as I checked my temperature monitor from the comfort of my nicely heated home, I thought of another, less comfortable, way to start the day.

But when I checked the temperature this chilly morning, I didn’t think about Maria, her family, and that cold camper. She successfully closed her loan before the last leaf hit the ground, and I know she slept last night warm and snug in a nice, safe manufactured home.

By the Welcome Home Loan team aof the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund.