A Yellow House with a Blue Door
My Journey to Home Ownership
In August of 2010, my mother called to tell me she’d signed us up for a Homebuyer Education class through ECHO. I thought my mother had lost her marbles because she already owned a home and I was a single mom with no credit to speak of so there was no way in the world I was going to become a homebuyer. Rather than tell my mom she was crazy, though, I went to the class with her. I learned that there was hope for me after all. With some work on my part, I could buy a house. I talked to my son and he asked if we could get a yellow house with a blue door. I told him I couldn’t make any promises but that I’d try my best.
For the zero down payment USDA Direct program I was looking to use, I had to have a credit score of 640. I had a few medical collections but nothing major. With help from Rosalyn and Tiffany at ECHO, I made a list and got to work paying the collections. I got off to a great start because I was excited at the thought of getting a home for my son and myself. The collections got paid but my low credit score didn’t rise like I thought it should and I began to get frustrated. In late 2011, I messed up and let an account go to collections. Even though this was discouraging, I knew that I had to get on with it and keep working hard.
I signed up for the Financial Literacy class offered by ECHO and learned that no credit is almost as bad as poor credit so I applied and was approved for a secured credit card. After a few months of using my credit card regularly and paying it off each month, I began to see improvements in my credit score and was soon just shy of the magic number. With help from ECHO, I opened an Individual Development Account (IDA).
When I reached my goal of $1,000, I received a grant of $4,000 through Prosperity Works. The total, $5,000, could be used toward a down payment or closing costs.
Even being just shy of 640, I went to USDA to apply for the loan. Unfortunately, I learned that I was just over the income guidelines for the USDA Direct program since I’d gotten a raise in the time I’d been working to fix my credit. Unsure of what to do now, I called Tiffany and she assured me that she could still help me get into a house – it would just be a slightly different program – USDA Guaranteed, still zero down, and I still needed a credit score of at least 640. So, I kept on with what I was doing – paying all my bills on time and using my credit card wisely.
I had highs and lows during the few years I was in the process of fixing my credit. When I found myself discouraged, I’d get motivated by looking at houses for sale. I’d talk to my son and he’d remind me that he still would like a yellow house with a blue door. In late 2013, I checked my credit score and was thrilled to see that I’d hit the magic number. I began to look at houses.
On a Monday in late January 2014, I found a house that had just been listed a few days earlier. It was three bedroom, two bath, and yellow…with a brown door. I called the realtor and made arrangements to look at the house that evening. My offer was made on Tuesday and accepted on Wednesday. The paperwork was submitted, inspections on the house completed, and we packed our things in anticipation.
We closed on Wednesday, March 12th and I was overjoyed to put my signature on what felt like 15 million pieces of paper. The realtor handed the keys to our new home to my son – the look on his face can only be described as pure joy and my heart melted. We were fully moved in by March 17th and we absolutely love our yellow house with a soon to be painted blue door!