Tag Archives: success

Hard work brings New Hampshire family home

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When Jeremy Charron lost his construction job in the wake of the 2008 housing crisis, he and his wife Siobhan had no choice but to file for bankruptcy.  They thought their credit would never recover, even after they got back on their feet, and that their dream of owning a home would remain a fantasy.  With three small daughters and Siobhan’s father and grandmother living with them, renting was not ideal, as it wasn’t always easy to find a house to rent that fit their specific needs.  That all changed when she saw a HOMEteam IDA program brochure.

The young couple met with a HOMEteam housing counselor only one year after their bankruptcy, and they found getting into a home of their own may not be as impossible as they had previously suspected.  Jeremy and Siobhan had to learn to budget strictly, something they had never done before.

“We couldn’t have done it without the help of the [IDA] program and the HOMEteam counselors.” Siobhan said.

The Individual Development Account [IDA] helps families like the Charrons commit to saving for major purchases, such as buying a home, or attaining higher education.  It matches the savings of an individual as they work towards their goal, and fosters good savings habits. In the Charron’s case, they each had an account, and saved enough to put towards their down payment, closing cost and other expenses associated with buying a home.

“Going through the IDA program and then doing the Home Buyer and Financial Capabilities Seminars, it really taught us a lot – how to use your credit, how to make it better, and how to prepare for the future and the unexpected… we really are grateful,” Siobhan said.

The paperwork involved in the application process was substantial; however the Charron family was able to complete what was necessary and not miss a class.  “We maximized the payments [into the IDA accounts], and we struggled. We were tight on things like groceries, but we knew we had to do it to meet our goal” Jeremy commented.

They saved and put money towards their IDA for a year before they started the home buying process, at times saving $200 a month, no small feat with two small girls and parents to feed.  They attended classes with HOMEteam, received counseling, and eventually found a home they were interested in.  It seemed nearly perfect for their situation.  It had enough bedrooms to accommodate their two children and Siobhan’s father and grandmother, and even had two bedrooms and a bath on the first floor, providing accessibility to her aging parents.  It was a little out of their price range, but the seller eventually agreed to meet them at a more affordable price point.

It was at this moment the lender suddenly rescinded their pre-approval, and it nearly cost them a chance at owning a home. “We were devastated,” Siobhan recalls.

Crestfallen and ready to fold, they called Ryan Tufts, their Home Ownership Coach at HOMEteam, for help.  Jeremy’s new employer had referred him to his lender, and without a secondary recommendation they were weary to try just any lender.  Ryan recommended several lenders who often work with HOMEteam’s clients.  Siobhan and Jeremy found a lender who was able to work with them and their unique situation to get the approval they needed to get into their new home.

Now owners living and working in their new home, Siobhan and Jeremy are proud of what they accomplished, “Now we are here, and we feel like we are through the hardest parts. We are truly grateful to be here.  There are always new challenges, but at least we are home.”

A Different Kind of Help

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Like all good housing counselors, my colleagues and I are trained to consider a range of options for homeowners who seek our help. But, every once in a while, we work with a client who needs us to think of solutions that don’t appear in the training guides. I had one such case recently, and we are going to call him Charlie.

In January of this year Charlie came to our office seeking help with his mortgage. In 2013 Charlie’s wife passed away. As a result, his household income fell by almost half, and his mortgage payment of $1,400 per month was more than two-thirds of his remaining income. Despite his best efforts, Charlie had fallen a few months behind on his mortgage payment and he was concerned that his lender might foreclose.

After we met and considered a number of possibilities, Charlie decided that he would like to try to get his mortgage modified to an affordable payment and, at the same time, to put his house on the market so he could move to Florida.

After a month or so, Charlie’s bank offered him a modification. Unfortunately, the modified payment was only about $200 lower than the original payment. So, while Charlie would be current on his payments, his home was not sustainably affordable. Charlie was concerned that he was going to have to accept the first offer on his house – even if it was lower than the house is really worth – in order to move on with his life. That’s when we decided to see if there was something else we could do to make Charlie’s payments more affordable.

I called the tax collector in Charlie’s home town and asked her whether the town offered a discount on property taxes for senior citizens. In fact, they do. Although the application process seemed daunting to Charlie, with a little encouragement from me, he agreed to at least try.

The first application Charlie made to the town was incomplete, but with some more coaching on my part he submitted a completed application on the second try. Then we heard nothing about the application for a few weeks. So I started making weekly calls to the town’s tax clerk.

In the end, we got a great result: Charlie’s annual tax bill was cut from almost $7,000 to $1800, which, together with the loan modification, lowered his monthly payment from the original $1400 to around $780, which he can now afford.

Charlie is now able to hold out for what he thinks is a fair price for his home, and he can devote the time and energy he had been using to worry about his mortgage payments to planning the next chapter of his life.

There are obviously limits – imposed by time and other resources – that prevent housing counselors from being able to help with all of the situations our clients might face. But it is refreshing and encouraging when a little bit of extra effort can deliver a big improvement.