Shawn and Nathaniel Wells Work Hard to Become First-time Homebuyers

The Wells family – Shawn, Nathaniel, and their children Zoe, who is almost ten, and Zion, almost one – celebrated Shawn’s birthday this July in their new home in Fluvanna County, Virginia, three years after they first started working with Piedmont Housing Alliance.

It takes plenty of patience and persistence as Shawn and Nathaniel Wells found out, to follow their dream of becoming homebuyers.  Shawn learned about Piedmont Housing Alliance from a former colleague and financial adviser. Shawn, a Family Advocate with partner organization, MACAA, was nine months pregnant when she and her family of three, had to move out of their rental apartment and in with her family for almost a year.  Nathaniel works as a driver for JAUNT, a regional transportation system that serves Charlottesville and the surrounding counties.  In the summer of 2014, Shawn and Nathaniel started meeting with a housing counselor at Piedmont Housing Alliance to start the process of buying a home together, something they weren’t sure was possible.

Their first steps involved understanding and creating a realistic budget that they could follow. They brought in all of their bills and talked through the process with their housing counselor. Shawn said she was shocked to learn how much money they had going out compared to what was coming in.  They realized very quickly the changes they needed to make in order to get their finances under control.  The next step was to rebuild their credit scores.  After having some struggles with paying off her credit cards in the past, Shawn was reluctant to apply for any new credit; however, in order to become more mortgage-ready, she needed to raise her credit score, which at the time was not good at all. They were taught how to apply for a secured credit card to help build up good credit.  Shawn says they learned the right way to use a credit card and were able to pay everything off at the end of each month, which quickly got them back in good standing.  “Having that accountability each month, going in and amending our budget and seeing where we were really helped us,” said Shawn.

Once they were on track with their budget, they decided to apply to the VIDA program to further increase their savings for a mortgage.  They learned that through saving money each month, which they were already doing, they could double their money.  In two years, they each were able to save close to $2,000 which gave them each a $4,000 match, bringing their joint savings to almost $12,000! Shawn and Nathaniel were on their way to becoming homebuyers.

They started looking for a place to call home and quickly found something they liked.  They put in an offer on the home and everything seemed to be in order. Then, within just 2 days of closing, another potential buyer came in and made a cash offer to the seller.  They lost the house to the other bidder and then had to move out of their rental home since their landlord had already rented it to a new tenant.  Shawn and Nathaniel, who were expecting their son in 3 months, packed all of their belongings and moved in with Shawn’s family.  They almost decided to give up thinking they should just stick to renting after that experience. Then, Shawn gave birth to their son, Zion, and with encouragement from their counselor who told them not to give up, they started the process of looking again.  They realized that, with their growing family, they really wanted to find a great place to call home.  Within a few more months, they found another home that they liked with an even better layout for their family.  “It was with the grace of God that were able to make this happen,” said Shawn.  The process took another 10 months, but by June 21st, they had closed on their new home.

When asked what they would tell others trying to buy a home, Nathaniel said, “Just stick with it even when it looks like it’s not going to work out.”  Then, with a glowing smile, Zoe said how excited she is to have her own space and to show off her pink, Hello-Kitty-adorned room.

Congratulations to Shawn, Nathaniel, Zoe and Zion!