Roxanne Ray's Blog
How I got $25,000 FREE Money to Buy my First Home
Buying your first home is like the hazing of adulthood. Seriously. If you have purchased a home, you know exactly what I mean. Finding a reputable real estate agent to help you “find” homes to look at is the easy part. It’s only after you have a signed contract that the real fun begins. Schedule inspections, find 4 year’s worth of tax documents, bank statements, schedule a property appraisal and the list goes on.
To Rent or Buy?
The decision to buy a home is probably one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, in the part of the country I was living in at the time, the rent on a one-bedroom apartment was more than double what a mortgage was on a starter home. Yes – double!
For me the decision was easy. I’m buying a house. The only problem that I could see was my lack of funds. I naively thought that closing costs and the miscellaneous fees wouldn’t add up to more than a couple thousand dollars, right? WRONG!
First Time Home Buyer Programs
The universe had my back, though. I remembered a lady telling me about this flyer for Wells Fargo with a first time home buyer program. I didn’t know the lady and thought it was odd she was telling me this at the time. So I brushed it off, almost forgetting about it.
I hired my real estate agent and we began looking at houses. I got pre-approved for a loan and the hunt was on. It was a few weeks later that I realized I was either going to wipe out all of my savings or worse, not be able to buy. That’s when that lady popped back into my head.
I began scouring the internet for first time home buyer programs, loan programs, grants, etc. Any organization that gives money to help people with big life situations like this.
At this time in my life, I had recently graduated with my bachelor’s degree and was still waiting for my “promotion” at work so I could final move up and make the money I thought I deserved. This is important because I was making less than $40K a year and I was single.
I found about 4 programs I seemed eligible for in my county and state. I scheduled an appointment to meet an agent. They emailed me explicit instructions on the type of documents I needed to bring to my appointment. There were so many documents that I ended up making a binder to keep organized. They asked for everything from the last 3 year’s tax returns, my current pay stub and last year’s W2, copies of current leases and utility bills – it was a long list.
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Programs are competitive just like scholarships
Now let me explain. This program was VERY competitive. When I made my appointment it was for a month away. The receptionist told me the program is first-come-first-serve. Meaning, if they ran out of funds before my appointment time, then I was just SOL. I was determined to get this money to help me buy my home. I found every piece of documentation they asked for and checked it against the list about a dozen times.
It was the day of my appointment. I left early and found the building and checked in. There were at least 10 people in the waiting room already. They asked me if I had all of the documentation and of course I answered that I did. Shortly after me, another lady walked in for her appointment. They asked her the same question and she confessed she had forgotten to get a piece of documentation. I was shocked when they told her she would have to leave and reschedule. She practically burst into tears. I knew then, this was serious. $25k was on the line after all.
When I was finally called back for my evaluation I was pretty nervous. In hindsight, I’m not really sure why? Maybe because I really wanted the money! The gentleman that helped me was very pleasant. He was probably only five years older than me. He looked at all of my documents and started filling out a spreadsheet and tapping away at his calculator. I was too nervous to even look at what he was doing. It almost felt like a professional interview.
A few minutes later he had my verdict. He told me that if I had made another $500 that year I wouldn’t have qualified. I was stunned! I was well below the thresholds they had posted online. He explained that they count everything. All of the benefits, bonuses, 401K matches, etc. towards the calculation.
I was so incredibly thankful I made the cut and felt like I was going to cry. It was just the beginning of my journey, though. He told me I had secured the funds but the program was coming to a close. He gave me 6 weeks to find a house. I could close whenever I just had to have a contract on a house within 6 weeks. Talk about pressure!
The woes of finding a home to buy
My real estate agent helped me secure a contract on a house about 10 minutes from my parent’s house. The only problem was once we got the appraisal back, the house appraised for $30K MORE than what the offer was for. And the owners wanted me to come out of pocket $30K. No way, Jose! I had to wait 2 weeks for them to release me from the contract.
It seems easy to talk about it now. However, whenever you get a contract on a house, you start envisioning yourself living there. How your commute to work will be? Where your furniture will go. What changes you want to make right away? So to have to start from square one again really sucked!
Thankfully, we found my house 3 weeks later. I literally got under contract just in time to save my $25k first time home buyer money! A funny thing happened, though. Right after this, I ended up getting a promotion and a $15K raise! I felt incredibly blessed with the timing of everything.
Look for First Time Home Buyer Programs
If you are considering buying your first home, I URGE you to look for programs. There were so many out there. A lot of them have income limitations. So if you are making over $50K already there might not be much out there for you. But still look!
My best advice is to Google – “First time home buyer your county and state” Keep searching until you think you’ve found all of the available programs. Some websites may cross reference other websites.
I equate this search to searching for college scholarships. They are out there; you just have to look.
About the Blogger
Roxanne Ray a.k.a. "Roxy"
I love marketing and all things social media. After starting and growing my Social Media Marketing Agency to over $20,000 in revenue per month, I became obessesed with helping other people escape their 9-5 jobs like I did and become a successful #CorporateEscapee.
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