Meet Julie S. who teaches art in San Mateo and was able to buy her first home with the help of HEART and Meriwest Mortgage’s first time homebuyer program. With only 5% down and no PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) Julie was able to buy a fixer-upper and with the help of friends and her community, now is a proud homeowner as well as a valued member of the San Mateo County school system.
Meet Cris and Koren
Cris is a true local, spending his youth in San Carlos and Belmont. His family still resides in San Mateo; he lived with them for three years after completing his undergraduate degree. Currently, he is a project manager with a computer gaming company in San Francisco.
Koren is from Hilo, Hawaii and met Cris when she was a post-doc at Stanford. She is currently a visiting professor in Biology and also tutors students at all levels in various subjects.
She and Cris recently married and started saving for a house. Last year, they were extremely grateful to find out about the HEART program, which allowed them to stay in the county as 1st time homebuyers. Even with a conforming mortgage loan from Meriwest Mortgage and the HEART downpayment loan, they rode the crazy rollercoaster that is the current housing market in the Peninsula. They bid on five homes in the past year, in many cases losing to buyers offering a minimum of $100,000 above asking price in cash. They were incredibly discouraged.
When a townhouse in San Carlos came on the market, they rushed to make an offer on the property. Both were elated to be accepted for their first home after a week of tense waiting.
“Being local and growing up here, I really appreciate the chance to live in San Carlos and spend more time in the community. With rents now approaching $3,000 for a two-bedroom apartment, our mortgage is less and we can start our lives here. I take BART to my job in the city, and Koren is teaching at several sites in the Peninsula. We couldn’t be happier. Thank you HEART.”
This is the story of how the HEART program helped us buy our forever home in Redwood City.
I’m Joann McEntire, my husband is Dennis McEntire. I grew up in Dallas, TX, went to college at Duke, and moved out here to go to graduate school at Stanford. Seven years, one Ph.D., and a leetle bit of student loan debt later, I met Dennis, who grew up in Kansas before his family moved to San Jose and his dad started the computer store DataCheck in 1983.
When we got engaged in 2009, we began looking for houses. Dennis works in Burlingame, so we really wanted to be on the Peninsula. Once we started looking, we were a little bowled over by the prices. My mother in Dallas was especially in shock, and I had to keep gently reminding her not to compare the two markets. For her birthday that summer we sent her a t-shirt that just cracked us up. It said: California, you can’t afford it.
A conventional loan and we closed in 30 days
As our search progressed, reality set in and we realized we would have to do an FHA loan because we only had 5% down. I was disheartened when we finally found a house we really liked, only to be told by the agent that the seller wouldn’t even look at an FHA loan.
Then we found our wonderful real estate agent, Jamie, and she told us about the HEART program. All told, we saw 150 houses, and we made several offers in our learning curve. Then a new house came on the market on a Friday. Saturday morning we went over to check it out, and absolutely fell in love at first sight. It was our favorite house out of the 150! Dark hardwood floors throughout, a 3-1 with a big backyard with an orchard! We submitted an offer Monday morning. There were multiple offers. The out-of-state seller had a conversation with John Souza at Merriwest, and felt completely confident accepting our offer. And the HEART program made it possible by allowing us to buy the house on a conventional loan, saving us hundreds of dollars each month in private mortgage insurance, and John Souza even helped us close in 30 days over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays!
California – we can afford it!
The house was tented December 22, and the tent that covered the house was bright red. Dennis took a picture and photoshopped a big bow on top. It was truly a very, very special Christmas. My father abandoned my family when I was a child, and I grew up in a second-floor apartment with my mother, never having had a garden. Now I have discovered that I have a very green thumb! I even share my organic produce with all of our neighbors. And we had over 300 trick-or-treaters come to our house last Halloween! It was my first time to give out candy, and it made me truly realize that when we help each other, we feel it ourselves even more. Looking back, there’s not anything like the HEART program on the Peninsula, and Dennis and I are just so very grateful there were people like you to support us. I think the moral of my story is this: With the HEART program, and advocates like Mark and Paula willing to see the needs of our community from all perspectives–California: We can afford it!
With help from HEART, Glenn and his family bought a home in San Bruno, next door to his parents. This is making it possible for them to stay close to family while Glen works at a life sciences startup company in South San Francisco. They had been looking to buy a home for four years, but were always outbid by investors offering cash until they discovered the conforming loan package from HEART and Meriwest Mortgage.
Find out more through HEART’s homebuyer program.
Jennifer is a legal secretary in Burlingame and part-time law student, her husband Andrew is a police assistant. They were renting in Foster City and loved the suburban feel and convenient location. They qualified for an FHA loan, but could not apply it to their condo. The HEART loan, with a downpayment requirement of 5% and no PMI, made their condo available and affordable. Find out about the HEART downpayment assistance loans here.