Pictured from left are Maxine M., Realtor Sandra McLaughlin from Century 21 Property Central, Salem Five loan officer Christine Travers and Loren M.
Loren always wanted to buy a home of his own, and after many years of renting, he felt he and his wife, Maxine, could afford a monthly mortgage payment. But saving enough for what he thought he needed for a down payment was a stumbling block.
"I had a real estate agent before the one we used and she said I needed $25,000 to $30,000 for a down payment," he said. "I had money saved, but not that much, so we continued to rent."
Loren and Maxine eventually started working with Sandra McLaughlin from Century 21 Property Central. The property’s listing agent was Zoly Sanchez from Century 21 The Fermin Group.
"A couple of months ago, Sandra called me and said 'Do you still want to buy a house,'" recalled Loren. "She said there was a program coming out, that she was going to be attending a seminar, and would we be interested."
That program was MassDREAMS through MassHousing, and it was the difference in Loren and Maxine being able to buy a single-family home in Methuen. Paired with MassHousing first mortgage financing and down payment assistance through Salem Five, their MassDREAMS grant gave them additional down payment assistance and paid closing costs and lowered their interest rate.
MassDREAMS (Delivering Real Equity and Mortgage Stability) was designed to address the racial homeownership gap, and to boost Massachusetts communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The impact has exceeded the program's high expectations. The program was launched last September, and due to popularity was suspended the following November. In just 79 days, MassHousing paired MassDREAMS grants with its affordable home mortgage loans to help hundreds of low- and moderate-income first-time home buyers – many of whom are people of color – purchase a home in Massachusetts.
Loren said they could not have completed their homebuying dream without Sandra and Christine Travers at Salem Five.
"I called Christine, made an appointment, and things took off like a wildfire," said Loren. "We started putting the paperwork together, everything went smoothly, and everything fell into place."
Christine said MassDREAMS helped buyers who were on the cusp of completing a home purchase get over the goal line in owning their own home.
"It made the difference for people like Loren and Maxine who were hanging in there, trying to save money, and doing all the right things, and they were being outbid in a competitive market. The program gave me the opportunity to help customers cover certain costs like their closing costs, and down payment, and origination points to lower their interest rates. The program covered costs for customers who were falling short. This program helped my customers to finally be homeowners."
MassDREAMS made the difference in Loren and Maxine becoming homeowners.
"They call this program MassDREAMS, and it really was a dream come true for me and my wife," said Loren. "It was always something we wanted to do, have our own place. I have to commend the people who put it together. It really is a dream come true for us and there are a lot of people like us who could probably buy a home like us if they had access to a program like this.
"I was on the market for some time looking for a property with no luck," added Loren. "I would see something that I liked but someone with stronger cash-flow would leave me in the dust until I worked with Sandra and Christine. Then everything changed. I kept pinching myself to see if it all was real. They were there all the way from start to finish answering my questions. We needed a real person like them with the right attitude and ability to help people like us."
When Christine called the couple to tell them she had a closing date, Loren said it struck him that buying their home was really going to happen.
"My biggest surprise was when she told me the closing date. Yes!" exclaimed Loren. As the couple signed the last of the documents at the closing, Loren said, "I still couldn’t believe it. When I signed the final paper, I thought, gee, this is ours."
The couple are all moved in and when their son comes home from college, it will now be to the family home.
"Thank God. We enjoy it very much," said Loren.
Helping people achieve their goals of owning their own home is highly rewarding, and Sandra was very happy for Loren and Maxine. The quotation she uses, she said, is "making dreams come true one home at a time."
Christine said working with Loren and Maxine was equally as rewarding. "That's the best part of my job," she said. "That customer had been doing all the right things and it wasn’t happening for them, and then it happened for them. I am very happy for them."