• SHARON ALVA East Bay Digs

Where There is Katie, There is a Way

I met Katie two years before she bought her home, and in the first month of being a real estate agent. She called the office and asked to see a house. I was a new agent and thrilled to have any new client, so I rushed over to the house no questions asked. It was after I opened up the house and we looked around that we got down to the nitty gritty of home purchasing and I realized there were a few problems. Katie had no down payment, a tiny income, a husband with a disability and no employment, and an infant daughter.

They were making ends meet with Katie's part time job, her husband's disability check and some support from his family. Oh and one more thing, her husband didn’t want to buy a house.

I always say that I fall a little bit in love with my clients. What I mean is, that I get to know my clients and their impassioned desire to have a home is so compelling that their dreams become mine. Its primal and create something of our own. Whether a home is a modern steel and glass condo, a bungalow, or a huge Victorian, a home purchase is different from anything else we buy. Home defines us.

Katie was one of the first clients I kept as a friend. Her tenacious quest to have a home was compelling. Katie wanted an old house with character. She wanted a house that was accessible so her husband would be comfortable. Despite the odds being against her I quickly learned that Katie ultimately gets what she wants.

Over the next two years I would occasionally show Katie a house. Her husband came along some of the times. She would email me leads on specialized loans, and programs for buyers with disabilities. Meanwhile I sent her information on down payment assistance programs. When Katie called to tell me that her husband was working and had nailed down a loan through a special lender that gives low interest loans to buyers with disabilities, I knew the real home search had begun. It was as if we had been in training for two years and now the event was here. It was time.

We had limitations. The house had to be single lever and have space enough for a wheelchair to maneuver around, while at the same time being on the low end of the price range and therefor not big. In retrospect, it didn’t take long. When we walked in it was clear this was a fair compromise. Small yard and no garage, but a charming two bedroom house where sun flooded in through a picture window in the living room.

Katie was selective in who she brought into the decision making. A family member who designs kitchen came in to look at the tiny galley kitchen. The current design made it almost impossible for Katie’s husband to maneuver his wheelchair. Neither of her parents was consulted. No friends came to look at the house until after they closed. For Katie the decision was less overwhelming if kept between her and her husband. But good thing Katie called in the kitchen designer. No sooner we closed and Katie found another housing program that covered much of the cost of renovating the kitchen to make it accessible. I

loved being a part of Katie’s journey. While being realistic and pragmatic about home buying, she also dreams big and does the research to make big dreams come true.

Its been 13 years since I met Katie and 11 since she and her husband bought their home. The house is worth about twice it was in 2008. For the past two years I have been showing Katie investment properties. I see the wheels turning. She is researching and wearing away her husband’s resistance to another real estate adventure. With charm and laughter Katie is once again moving towards a purchase. Because even when the odds are against her, Katie ultimately gets what she wants.

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Sharon Alva >>> East Bay Digs >>> Sharon@EastBayDigs.com >>> 415.574.8759