By Stephanie Andre
RISMEDIA, February 22, 2010—As a first-time home buyer, Jessica Garcia was excited last April to officially begin her home search. She found a home within her price range, completed the lengthy paperwork and paid for the appraisals, only to later be told after four months that the deal would not close.
Out of luck and out of money, Garcia was frustrated, but not defeated. She went back to her Realtor to start the search again. It was then that she found the home she would later purchase. Upon first glance, Garcia liked the home and saw its potential, but didn’t have the upfront money it would take to rehab the home the way it needed to be done.
After some discussion, Garcia’s lender, Kevin Roy with Wells Fargo, realized that she might be able to take advantage of HUD’s 203k program, specifically designed to rehabilitate and repair single-family homes. The 203k is a single mortgage loan that provides funds to purchase a home and make repairs and improvements.
“The home needed a lot of work,” explains Garcia, of North Port, Florida. “The previous owners had pets that had really torn up the carpeting and destroyed the blinds.”
Indeed, the home needed new flooring, carpets and, most importantly, a water softener for its wellwater system. So, when the opportunity arose to take advantage of the 203k program, Garcia was game.
“In the end, it worked out great,” she says. “The credit goes to Kevin because if he hadn’t told me about the 203k program, I would not have had the money to fix the home. All of the money I had was put into the appraisals and fees for the first home that I couldn’t close on.”
Once the transaction was set in motion, Garcia turned to Lowe’s North Port (Florida) store to help her bring her 203k projects to fruition.
“The people at Lowe’s were really great,” lauds Garcia. “I had dealt with a different home improvement retailer in the past, but never had very good experiences. I went to Lowe’s because the people who work there are always friendly and I had heard good things about working with them. The people there really were great—they provided explanations to all of my questions and made my experience easy.”
From the 203k paperwork to guiding her through the program, Garcia credits the Lowe’s team with a job well done. “The team at my Lowe’s was very helpful,” she says. “A couple of people—including manager Mike Cabana—helped me tremendously.”
Prior to closing, Garcia went to the North Port location and chose her products for the 203k projects. Once closing happened in late September, the Lowe’s team prepared for Garcia’s projects, ordering her new carpeting, wood flooring, a water softener and new dishwasher.
“It was amazing,” says Garcia. “The day I closed, I called them and they immediately started ordering the materials and products. Within a few weeks, everything was done.”
According to Garcia, the timing couldn’t have been better. In addition to the improvements she made with her 203k loan, Garcia also took on a few DIY projects herself—including repainting the entire house.
“I decided to put the 203k money into quality carpeting, flooring and, of course, the water softener. I also really needed a dishwasher—the house didn’t have one,” she explains. “The little bit of time I had between ordering the materials and installation was perfect. It gave me just enough time to get all of the painting finished.”
Despite months of worry, confusion and stress, Garcia is now thrilled with her home—and her experience with Lowe’s.
“I am very happy,” says Garcia. “Everyone involved did such a great job and helped me so much…Lowe’s helped me choose exactly what I wanted for my home. I love this house!
“A lot of money goes into buying a home,” she adds. “The 203k program is a great option. It allowed me to do far more than I would have been able to do on my own. As a first-time home buyer with a limited amount of money, it allowed me to do a lot and get exactly what I wanted. Working with Lowe’s was perfect, too. From their affordable prices to the customer service, it was a great experience overall. I would highly recommend both the 203k program and Lowe’s to anybody.”