Broker guides blind to homeownership dream

He helped a blind couple become homeowners when no-one would help them

Broker guides blind to homeownership dream

Mortgage brokers have the ability to sometimes shed light on the darkness, enabling would-be homeowners to make a purchase even when all hope seems lost.

Broker/owner Larry Gregory of 1st Choice Services Inc. is proof positive of that ability. Tied to United Wholesale Mortgage he was invited by the lender to convey one of his most memorable stories for a chance to join colleagues descending on the New York Stock Exchange to ring the closing bell.

He immediately remembered a couple referred by a friend in accomplishing homeownership against the odds. “Both the husband and wife were legally blind,” Gregory recalled. “They had three kids, renting a 980-square-foot house and they wanted to buy a house. They had called two or three places and basically were told ‘you don’t work; you don’t have a way to a make money. We can’t do anything’.”

He only saw potential, not shortcomings

Gregory didn’t focus on their shortfalls but on their potential. “They’re getting plenty of money,” he remembered thinking. “First of all, we need to give you some credit,” he told the couple. “So we worked for about a year getting credit. By the time we were ready to start looking, we ended up with a 700-plus credit score.”

The husband worked for a facility that employed blind people, so the couple sought a home close to the job site as neither of them could drive. “We were just striking out everywhere,” Gregory recalled.

It was time to change the parameters. Gregory suggested the couple instead look for a home in the children’s school instead, and that way the only transportation costs would be getting the husband to and from work.

“They ended up from renting a 980-square foot home to getting into a 3,500-square-foot home that was $300,000 with four bedrooms, two baths. The kicker is she got hired by the school and tuition was free for their three kids as a result.”

Waiting for the other shoe to fall

Leave it to meddling bureaucracy to mess things up, however. “We always talk about service after the sale,” Gregory said about his company’s work philosophy. “Technically, we’re done at the closing table, but we can always help you through the quagmire. All of a sudden, Social Security screwed up and stopped all their disability insurance.”

Undeterred at another challenge, he directed the couple to call their servicer. “They put them on a three-month deferral automatically and when they still hadn’t gotten the problem resolved gave a call to the Indiana Housing Community Development Authority. They take care of grants if you’re ready to lose your home.”

The upshot: “They ended up paying one year’s worth of payments in the form of a grant because it was no fault of their own. They even paid the HOA fees, all the utilities, everything. They actually start paying again here in two months – and they got their Social Security straightened out.”

Gregory’s inspirational story was one of dozens solicited by UWM in whittling down the 100 most compelling. The brokers with selected stories were then invited to join UWM executives in helping to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange in signaling the close of business one day last week. The event was staged to commemorate National Mortgage Brokers Day that was observed July 18.

“They hardly had any credit, but the big thing is nobody wanted to work with them because they were legally blind,” Gregory summarized. “They didn’t have a job, they didn’t have a car.”

A happy ending secured in the end

He noted the case was the second time he’s helped a blind person, the previous one in his other role as a realtor. For good measure, he’s now assisting the mother of one, from his winning story.

“It goes to show you that when people become order takers instead of trying to build up a rapport, you don’t know how much referral you lose out on,” he said.

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