How I Bought A House In Ogden Without a Big Downpayment

I never thought I would be a homeowner. I grew up poor, the poorest part of the poor spectrum. As a teenager, I was homeless off and on until I was 19 when I got my first apartment. To me, it was a mansion, the second floor of a row house in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. It had 13-foot ceilings, giant windows,  and a hole in the floor that went all the way down to the first floor. This past summer I found myself as a newly single mom, two kids, and no place to call my own and I did not want to move into another hole it the floor apartment.

I had lived in my rental for seven years, and since then the rent has skyrocketed in Ogden. The $700/month house I once rented would now cost me $1200, and I just couldn’t justify that cost for a place that wasn’t my own.  In fact, I couldn’t even afford it. I wanted a home, a forever home, a place I could carve the height of my kids into the wall every year. A place I could grow old in, paint the walls of, accidentally put a hole in the wall and not panic about deposits. I was ready to be a homeowner, but my bank account disagreed. The divorce had depleted all my savings, and although I had a great job, I was living paycheck to paycheck catching up on all the expenses. I called my bank just to see what my options were with little to no down payment and the clerk laughed at me.

Straight.

Up.

Laughed.

I told my realtor friend, Ashley Wolthuis, about my disappointment over not being able to buy a house and she told me to call  Thomas Turner. Now. Get on the phone girl and call. The next thing I know I was in Toms office discussing my options. Tom looked me straight in the eyes and told me that before the new year I would be a homeowner. There are grants, loans, and programs out there just for people like me. I will want to quit, I will probably cry, but it will all work out. He promised. I took a deep breath and nodded. Let’s do this.

Thomas Turner is not a quitter, and he won’t let you quit either, trust me I tried (three times). Thomas will give you a FREE consultation and credit check to see where you are at and tell you exactly what steps you need to take to buy a house. For me, it was getting some debts out of the way first.

According to Tom, here are the steps to buying a house:

Set up an appointment to evaluate your home buying goals, strategy, and timeline. Then start the pre-approval process by sending him your last two years W2’s, tax returns, and pay stubs. Now the exciting part, finding a great realtor to help you find your dream home.

Easy enough. I could do this!

First I had to get all the paperwork for the pre-approval process. This would be the most grueling step and one you should expect to repeat many times. If you want to buy a house with little to no down payment you will need tax returns, pay stubs, letters from employment, more pay stubs, bank statements, a letter from your previous landlord, more pay stubs, a blood sample, your first born and glitter from the last unicorn. At least, it felt that way. Don’t worry though; Tom Turner guided me every step of the way, helped me track down what I needed and took care of the rest.

After the paperwork hullabaloo and some pacing and worrying, I got the call. I was APPROVED! Me! This mom with (insert embarrassing amount here) to hold me over to next check! It was all happening, and there were tears. Tom was right; I did cry.

The second step is the best part, finding a realtor. When selecting a realtor, you really need someone who gets you. I needed someone who knew that I love old houses over modern ticky tacky ones. I needed someone who knew that I needed at least four rooms so I could rent one out to afford my mortgage. I needed a house I could grow into and grow old in. Ashley Wolthuis understood my taste and knew what I could afford. Even better, she knew that I was a busy mom and I couldn’t waste time looking at houses that were over my price range. 

After a bit of research, Ashley chose a few houses for me to look at.  All in neighborhoods she knows I love, with quirky vintage style and room to grow. The first house was a cute little 1940’s craftsman, the second a fixer-upper with a grand fireplace, but it was the third that I fell in love with. My dream house. When my daughters ran in and claimed their rooms, I knew it was the one. Built-in 1919 with original fireplace,  a spare room to rent, a huge yard and a porch for me to sip spiked ice tea in the summertime. It was mine, and I was home.

The thing about home buying that you should prepare yourself for is that it is never as simple as you hope. There are steps within steps within steps. But, if you have the right team behind you, you will get through it. Ashley and Tom not only led me every step of the way, but they also taught me everything they knew so by the time I got to this last step, I felt like an expert. Take a deep breath; you’re almost there.

Once I found my dream house, I had to have it inspected. This is a complicated process, and it can be nerve-wracking. When choosing a home inspector first look at reviews. Ask the home inspector what they will be inspecting? The inspection should cover the roof, foundation, basement/crawl space, attic, all visible areas, electrical, plumbing, heating, and cooling. Is the inspector familiar with local ordinances and building codes? If buying an older home, does the inspector have experience with historic properties? What type of specialized services does the inspector offer? Do they test for radon, mold or meth? If not, do they have a service they work with that does?

Whew! That is a lot to take in. Feeling overwhelmed? Let me help you out. This local company was as sweet as can be and fought for me when things weren’t up to par because he knew it was important for a single mom to move into a house worry-free.  When I had 1,058 questions, he was more than happy to answer. Inspector Tony is the best around.

Tony not only goes above and beyond for you, but he also takes his job seriously. He is certified by Penn Foster as a home inspector, a certification not required in Utah but he wanted to make sure he could be the best. He has a background in architecture,  is a member of an elite accredited organization: InterNACHI, does meth testing and a thermal imaging reading of the heat and cooling systems, spends a minimum of three hours looking over the property and walks you through every step of the way. After he showed me around my house, I felt like I knew it up and down and was confident that I  was prepared for any challenge when I moved in.

The best part about Inspector Tony is that he does one free recheck to ensure that any needed repairs were made correctly before closing or to check anything he wasn’t able to check during the first inspection. During my inspection, Tony wasn’t able to inspect the furnace as it had been disconnected during the remodel. He noted that the hot water pressure in my home was not high enough. He came back two weeks later and made sure those issues had been resolved, and items where now functional and made notes for me for future repairs I may want to look into.

The very last thing you will need is a home warranty. For that, I hit up fellow rad lady, boss, Weber State rep, cool chick Stacy Bernal at Elevate Home Warranty. This woman is a saint and deserves a medal because I broke something the first week living in my new home and she helped me out, made sure it was covered and got it fixed right away. What a relief!

Finally, after only a few months, Ashley drove over after work hours and personally delivered me the keys to my new home. I can’t tell you what that joy feels like. Growing up, I never feel like I had a place. I lived out of backpacks and was used to leaving everything behind when we had to move or were evicted. I never wanted that for my girls, that uncertainty, and suddenly that dream was a reality. I was a homeowner. The first night in my house I cried tears of joy and slept better than I had slept in years.

I am only a few months into home ownership, but Thomas, Ashley, Stacy, and Tony haven’t forgotten about me. I have called them with questions galore, and they have been as patient as a preschool teacher on a field trip.  Every day I wake up and am thankful for these four people who helped me achieve something I thought was impossible.  They never gave up on me even when I wanted to. My girls get to grow up in a fantastic house thanks to them, and for that, I am forever grateful.

So, what is holding you back? Your dream home is waiting, and with the right team, it could be  will be all yours.

Your dream team:

 

Mikaela is a transplant from Portland, fell in love with Ogden her first day in town and created Indie Ogden the next week. She enjoys outdoor adventures with her 2 kiddos and making a mess crafting. You can find her at a local cafe or cycling around town with her family.