“It was truly a long road, but I am so very grateful and thankful for you…”​

Starting her journey to homeownership, Shareema experienced problems many first-time homebuyers experience: lack of knowledge about the home buying process, poor credit history and down payment concerns.

In 2018, Shareema approached her bank, where she had been a loyal customer for 13 years, about homeownership. “The process was very uncomfortable and impersonal,” she remembered, “I felt like my application was just another in the pile.” Because of her poor credit history, she didn’t fit the standard, conventional homebuyer profile and after several calls with a representative in another state, she ended her investigation.

“After this ordeal, I was nervous and intimidated by the process.” Shareema thought a mortgage pre-qualification was out of reach. That is, until she heard about the services NHS provides that specifically cater to individuals like her; individuals that need guidance and help with budgeting, credit restoration and down payment assistance.

“I learned about the NHS from a friend of mine,” she recalls. Shareema decided to work with NHS after learning about the support and resources we offer. And once she decided to work with NHS, her journey took off almost immediately. After completing the first-time homebuyer course and paying the one-time homebuyer development fee, she was assigned a housing specialist and began her counseling sessions.

The process wasn’t easy, but it was rewarding. “It took 11 months for me to get to the closing table after signing the initial purchase agreement.” After what seemed like an endless trail of paperwork and months in pursuit of a mortgage with her bank, she was denied after pre-approval. “After learning of this, I was hurt, confused, angry and discouraged. I wanted to give up and walk away from the process as it seemed my dream of homeownership was out of reach.”

However, our HomeOwnership Center Managing Director, Bridgette Russell and HOC Realty realtor, Fiona Williams, would not let Shareema give up. They encouraged her to start the process again, this time with a different lender. She agreed, but wasn’t getting her hopes up. “Throughout my life, I didn’t always have someone to fight for me and stand in my corner. I was the person most people depended on, not the other way around.” But she felt blessed by the belief and support the two gave her. They were resolute and fought for the house Shareema had fallen in love with, in the city that she loved.

She would call Fiona – sometimes late at night – to share her concerns and Fiona’s response was unwavering. “She would tell me over and over, ‘Don’t worry about it, everything will work out, the house is yours.’ I would wipe my tears, submit the paperwork that was requested and wait.” This went on for a few more months. All the while, Bridgette was fighting in the background and Fiona always answered the phone. On June 28, 2021, she received the notice she was waiting for. Shareema was cleared to close. “Sitting at the closing table on July 15, 2021, was a defining moment in my life. I officially became the first person in my family (two generations) to own my own home.”

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