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Buying A ‘Healthy’ Home For Their First Child

July 1, 2015 | By

Liz Atkinson, 20, and husband Ande, 21, of Iowa City, IA, had rented for years, but medical complications with their first child, Gabryel, now 14 months, spurred their need to purchase a home of their own that they could completely renovate to be germ-free.

“With my son’s lung condition, we have to live in an environment that’s germ-free with no carpets or popcorn ceilings,” says Liz. “Those aren’t the kind of renovations you can do when you’re a renter.”

The search for their new home started in the spring, just as their local housing market was heating up.

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The Atkinson family. (Liz Atkinson)

The Atkinsons were looking for a house with at least three bedrooms and more than one bathroom. “We liked the idea of a split level and a large fenced yard so a child playing in the back wouldn’t bother our neighbors,” she says, “but it had to be in our price range so we’d have enough left to make the changes we needed.”

Their real estate agent told them about Fannie Mae’s HomePath®Ready Buyer, a homebuyer education program with monetary incentives for first-time buyers if you purchase a HomePath property (owned by Fannie Mae).

The course must be completed before submitting an offer to qualify. The program offers qualified buyers up to 3 percent closing cost for completing nine, 30-minute sessions online. On a $150,000 home, this deal could result in up to $4,500 in savings for the buyer.  In addition, Fannie Mae reimburses the $75 cost of the homebuyer education course at the time of closing.

“Liz and Ande were looking for no closing costs, so Ready Buyer was a perfect fit,” explains HomePath listing agent Tim Zear with Elliott Realty Group in Washington, IA. “Ready Buyer is a nice advantage with buyers like the Atkinsons,” he adds.

The two completed the course on a Friday afternoon. “We’re young so homebuying is new to us,” says Liz. “It was really great information for us to know.”

The program talked about different types of mortgages, paying mortgages, and living on a monthly budget.

“It helped us understand our fixed vs. variable costs, and where we could save on our monthly spending,” says Liz. “Any homebuyer would benefit from taking this course.”

With the course completed, the two started to look at area homes in earnest. Two properties came on the market in their price range that, after a brief bidding war, were sold to other buyers. Then one of those homes came back on the market, and at a lower price. “We did bid against other buyers again for the house, but this time we won,” Liz notes.

They closed on the house in early June, and renovations started right away.

Their new three-bedroom house sits on a quarter-of-an-acre lot, with a fenced yard and three lilac trees. “We saw a lot of potential in this house, and it has absolutely everything we could want,” she says. “It’s just going to take us some work to get it up to our standards for Gabryel to live in.”

The Atkinsons hope to wrap up renovations quickly and move into the house by Aug. 1. “We’re really happy with the way this has turned out,” says Liz.

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