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How three lives were changed by PHFA

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The Cole family outside of their new home.{ }

Few things are more satisfying and hopeful than the dream of becoming a homeowner. If you think this goal is out of your reach, or if you are wondering how to approach owning a home, then the following stories could give you the encouragement and the direction you need.

These three examples show that by working with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, taking the leap to ownership and obtaining that dream is entirely possible.

1. The Cole Family

Marcus and Michelle Cole had been married for four years when they started looking for a home large enough to hold their growing family. They also wanted room to be able to welcome foster kids into their lives.

After finding a home, the Cole's realtor suggested they use a PHFA loan to buy the house. A PHFA loan would give them a competitive interest rate as well as assistance with their down payment and closing costs – all things that are extremely important for a young couple working to buy their first home.

They welcomed their first child, Meah Faith Cole, just two months after they bought their house.

"It's something I'll remember the rest of my life," says Marcus. "It was awesome. New house, new car, new baby — 2012 was just a great year."

2. Holly Petro

Paralyzed from a car accident, Holly Petro suddenly found herself facing some unique challenges. She wanted to be independent and live in her own home, but could she do so from her wheelchair?

Enter PHFA and a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage that made owning a home affordable for Holly. She had found a townhome complex that was under construction, and the builder was able to work with her to design a house that could fit her needs. She was able to get features such as lower countertops and roll-under sinks to help her home be functional for her.

"I absolutely love it," she describes. "It's wonderful. I can now cook, clean, wash dishes and do my laundry — a few things many others wouldn't be excited to do. But when you physically can't do them for yourself, it's terrible. It's just wonderful to be on my own and have my independence back."

3. Christine Vega-Perez

Christine Vega-Perez was 23, single and living with her parents when she decided that she wanted a place of her own with a shorter commute to work. She assumed that at this stage of her life, owning a home would be an unattainable goal. Thankfully, her dad suggested that she do some research about the housing market and explore her options.

Her real estate agent led her to a free homebuyer course that is supported, in part, by PHFA. Her agent then talked to her about what mortgage options were available through PHFA, and what homes were available in the neighborhoods she wanted to live in. The two of them ended up visiting 35 homes before she found the right one for her.

That dream home, coupled with a loan that fit her needs, meant that she was able to continue with her other goals. She met and married her husband, added a dog to the family, completed her master's degree, and became a certified rehabilitation registered nurse.

"I think the main thing is, don't think of owning a home as a far-fetched dream because it really can be a reality," she said.

She explains, "I have my student loans. I have my undergraduate and now my graduate student loans that I'm currently paying, as well. So home ownership is possible."

Whether you feel like home ownership is a far-off goal, your life is too unique to find an affordable housing situation, or you are just starting out and need a bit of help, there are options to fit your circumstances.

If you are working toward home ownership, or if you have questions about how to obtain this dream, visit www.phfa.org or call their Customer Solutions Center during daytime business hours at 1-855-U-Are-Home (827-3466). Your own home could be waiting for you sooner than you think.

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