CONWAY, SOUTH CAROLINA — When I finally got the keys to my own home after 18 years of working and dreaming, it was the biggest day of my life. The tears were so thick in my eyes that I turned to Lauren Geldes, my REALTOR®, and asked, “Can I hug you?” and we both cried.
My children were just babies when I started working and saving. I’m an electrician, so I have spent my life being a part of new home construction. I wanted a home of my own.
For almost two decades, I envisioned what I could have: an open floor plan with high ceilings and granite countertops. My electrical would be top of the line, and I would watch it go in.
I have grandchildren now, but my story starts as a new father when I bought a piece of land and put a mobile home on it. My idea was to save up and eventually build a house on that property.
Unfortunately, money was tight. I worked hard and saved for years before I was finally ready to move forward.
Even after all those years of hard work, I wouldn’t get my new home.
My father-in-law owned a piece of the deed for the land, and he wouldn’t release it. That crushed me. It set me back. My family was growing. I didn’t want them to grow up in a mobile home, I needed to give them a better future.
I cut my losses and kept the mobile home, but put $30,000 down on a half-acre. I would start over and build there.
But at that point, my credit wasn’t great. To make this land purchase work, I got involved with an investor and that ended up being a big problem. He borrowed off my land to build another project, which then collapsed.
I lost my $30,000 and was tangled up in a legal mess.
Meanwhile, I had three kids in a mobile home. The floors were rotting, I had to rip out 80 percent of the floor because termites destroyed it. A family of possums moved in underneath the mobile home. One night, a baby possum crawled up behind our bed. That was our breaking point. I knew no matter what, we had to go.
After 10 years of saving, dreaming and trying to build, we abandoned the mobile home and found a rental. We started all over again.
As the years went by, the solid wood furniture and brand new appliances I optimistically bought for my house sat in storage. Heat and time ruined two dining room chairs. We eventually put the stove into the rental, just so that we could save some money and downsize to a smaller storage unit. One day, I came to check on the mobile home and a tree had fallen on it. Everything was a nightmare.
However, I was determined that one day my beautiful furniture would go into my dream home. I started rebuilding my finances. I started saving money all over again.
After eight years of hard work, I met Lauren Geldes. My finances were good enough to start looking again and I received an approval letter. When I walked through the model home that Lauren found for me, I knew this was it. It was a 2,100 square-foot open floor plan with a screened in porch. I would watch its three bedrooms and two full baths be built from the ground up, seeing every shingle and nail go into my own house.
My own house. Oh God, I thank you when I’m able to say those words!
Although I couldn’t do all the electrical myself, a good friend was able to install it all, and I got to see every step. I went out there every day.
Until something went wrong and my mortgage lender dropped me. I was the victim of identity theft and someone had opened an account in my name. I had to hire a credit company to investigate and get it cleared up.
I was afraid to even look at the house during those dark days. I went there once to pray. I just begged, please Lord, let this work.
It took a whole 30 days to get that mess cleaned up. All the while, Lauren stuck with me. She believed in me and my dream.
I went through three lenders before Quicken Loans finally helped me. We got everything sorted out and, after 18 years, I was finally going to own my own new home.
I moved in three months ago. My kids are grown now, and my daughter lives in our rental. I have two grandbabies, a little four-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl. I’m doing some things with the backyard that I think they are really going to love.
When I go to Lowes now, it isn’t just to buy stuff for other people’s electrical jobs. I pass by the lawn and garden section and think about what I can do for my own house. That solid wood furniture that sat in storage all those years is all cleaned up. I think my formal dining room is my favorite part of the house. I can look at that dining set and know how far I have come.
It’s more than just a home for me.