INTRODUCTION OF CHARLES & KIMBERLY LEWIS
Charles and Kimberly Lewis met at a lounge in Houston and took the traditional route of dating. They fell in love and Charles decided that Kimberly was the one. Shortly thereafter they became Mr. & Mrs. Charles and Kimberly Lewis and the family expanded from there.
The Lewis family lived in apartments and rental homes for over 10 years. During that journey, Charles met and grew to know two gentlemen that over time become two of his closest friends. Consequently, both were in the real estate industry, more specifically, a real estate agent and a mortgage banker. They both would eventually help The Lewis acquire their first home.
CHARLES HOUSING EXPERIENCES
Charles Lewis, grew up in a single-parent home with his mom and sister, initially renting apartments and eventually renting a home. One of Charles’s memories was how his mom always took care of family members by giving them a place to live during hard times. Having a place to call home and sharing it with loved ones is a very special way to build memories of a lifetime. Of course, on a day-to-day basis, it may not have always felt good and fun to have people in your space for a period of time. But just the same many families do just that, provide a place for the family to stay while building lifelong memories.
After renting for 15 years, the owner offered Charles’ mother the opportunity to purchase the rental home and make it her own. Years later Charles’s mother purchased another home and rented the first home to a family member. One of her desires was to influence another member of the family to get on their feet and hopefully one day become a homeowner as well.
KIMBERLY HOUSING EXPERIENCES
Kimberly Lewis’ experience was quite different, she grew up as a military brat. Of course with her father being in the military, naturally meant the family traveled frequently and moved from place to place. Therefore, Kimberly lived in many places, most of which were rental homes, apartments, or on military bases all over the world. Kimberly was aware of homeownership and desired to experience the same one day, but the opportunity had not presented itself until she and Charles decided to purchase their first home.
THE LEWIS HOMEOWNERSHIP JOURNEY
Kimberly and Charles have been married seven (7) years and owning a home was a part of their long-term goals. But they couldn’t see how living life, paying bills, saving money, creating a budget that they would stick could really be accomplished and was a big challenge for them. So year after year they talked about their homeownership dream, the type of home they wanted, where they wanted to live, but day-to-day living expenses kept pushing that dream back another year. Those monthly fixed expenses, with 4 kids in the apartment, not to mention those unexpected expenses that catch you at a time when monies are low and it gets really hard to juggle it all. But they were determined to stick with their commitment. Another little secret was discovered, “the truth of the matter is we both love to shop” admits both Kimberly and Charles. “That was the hardest thing for both of us to get under control.” But we knew we had no other choice so the One other pleasure Lewis’ admitted enjoying is entertaining their friends. But this pleasure paid off big! The moment finally came and the right seed was planted.
Over a game of dominoes, entertaining friends at their apartment, a school friend, Darryl Bowles with BBVA asked were actually really going to buy a house one day. He had recently become a Mortgage Banker for the Bank and was sharing with all his family and friends and anyone that was nearby in his space that would listen about his new role. More importantly, because Darryl is a property owner himself and real estate had been a part of his life since long as he could remember. Charles shared how Darryl always talks about how he had seen the impact real estate had on his family and how important it was to own your own home and that it was the first step to building generational wealth.
There was a brief discussion about the desire to own their home and all of the challenges they saw ahead of them to get there. Of course, no action was taken immediately, but the seed that was planted with the Lewis Family in that conversation with Darryl on that evening stuck with them that time. The thoughts about owning a home began to get stronger and stronger and so many questions came flooding in as well. Over that game of dominoes, the Lewis Family shared concerns such as their credit score and how not being sure if they could save enough money for the purchase with all the obligations they currently had was an issue. The Lewis appreciated that Darryl responded and answered each one of their concerns and inquiries and was very encouraging that no matter what their current situation, there was a way to be successful and purchase their first home.
The main things that stuck with the Lewis’ were that Darryl mentioned how much they were currently paying and how much it would cost to own a nice home wasn’t that much difference. The fact that the Lewis’ learned that they could possibly own their own home for a little bit more, equal, or a little less than their rental payments, was interesting and exciting at the same time. He helped them to understand how credit scores, income, location, and the different programs offered by the lender all work together.
The Lewis started looking at how much money they were spending monthly and calculating the annual amount they were paying in rent to someone else. “Our place was nice, but it wasn’t truly ours, we didn’t own it,” said Kimberly.
Once we made up our minds that owning our own home was a top priority, we started to talk and learn what our next steps were to reach our goal. Both Charles and Kimberly agreed that they’d be the first to say, it was definitely a journey, but opening the door to our home with our keys in hand was a very worthwhile journey to take.
TWO MADE UP MINDS:
Step 1: to manage their money better, and stop shopping as often as they did.
Step 2: to start working on their credit. This task would take discipline and accountability from each other.
Step 3: to retain the money that was allocated for savings, this was the most challenging part of the process. Learning to compensate for building the down payment funds while paying the monthly bills, expenses, and other unexpected expenses that came up from time to time. Learning discipline for the bigger goal was tough. Saving over and above just the down payment was important to them.
Step 4: drive around neighborhoods just to start getting a feel for locations. This was also a way to stay inspired with a goal to strive for and to stay on track to reach the goal for Lewis.
Step 5: paying the bills on time, keeping balances low, and being as consistent as possible no matter what popped up financially. This process is where the Lewis family feels most people probably fail in their pursuit of homeownership. This was very tough, very hard, and sometimes frustrating. But their minds were made up. Cleaning up the credit, paying by off bills, strategically getting some secured credit cards, over time the Lewis both went from the 510 FICO scoring range number to the upper 670 FICO range.
Getting the scores up above 620 was also a goal. Charles and Kimberly’s next step was to learn about the different lending programs. These programs provided different purchasing options. The higher the credit score and the more money for the down payment meant the higher likelihood they would get what they wanted.
Step 6: to get in position to purchase. Once their score began to increase, the down payment money account started increasing, and they felt they had made some progress in the right direction. Charles reached out to Darryl to give them some payment scenarios based on their capacity to repay, credit score, debt-to-income ratios, to figure out their sales price range. “Another key ingredient was having a Real Estate Agent that was a friend as well,” the Lewis’ said.
Step 7: to reach out to the Real Estate Agent and share the discussion on what was important to both of them in a home. The location was influenced by commute to work, visiting family, and business relationships in the Missouri City part of town. Chuck is Self-Employed and his clientele was in the Missouri City area. The couple needed at least 3 bedrooms, gas appliances were preferred, and definitely decent entertaining space was also high on the list of must-haves.