NACA Homeowner Jamillah Parker recently shared her NACA story as a guest on NACA’s American Dream Program. Joining her on the program was her NACA in-house real estate agent, Jerome Washington, along with hosts Damien Smith and Angeanette Dowles. NACA’s American Dream Program airs each Monday at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time on www.mixx106radio.com and the official NACA Facebook page, and is also available as a podcast from most major podcast sites.
Jamillah Parker’s journey to homeownership began after her divorce. Suddenly finding herself the single mother of a son just entering his teens, the 43-year-old social worker was eager to create long-lasting financial security for herself and her son. She knew that homeownership was the best means of building generational wealth but was unsure what she could afford or even how to go about starting the process of buying a place she and her son could call their own.
In January 2017, a friend told Jamillah about NACA and sent her an online link to sign up for a NACA Home buyer Workshop coming up in Philadelphia. She signed up, participated in the workshop, established her NACA file and looked forward to working with her counselor to become NACA Qualified and begin the search for her home.
Her focus was to find a home where she and her son would not only be safe and comfortable but would also be in the same town and school district where her son already attended. Soon to start high school, he told his mom that, like so many his age, finishing high school with his friends was his biggest concern with any impending change of address.
That request strengthened and locked in Jamillah’s resolve to become a homeowner. She knew what she wanted and now knew exactly where as well. It was a resolve that would carry her past multiple obstacles before she would be given the keys to her new home.
Her determination would become a saving grace as health issues and work demands would stall her progress and force her to sideline her plans to buy a home twice over the next three years. During that time though, she never lost sight of achieving her goal of homeownership Yet this would not be the only time when tenacity would be the key to reaching that goal.
At the beginning of 2020, the health and work issues had been dealt with and the path seemed clear for her to resume the journey to owning a home of her own. While it initially appeared to Jamillah that the Covid-19 pandemic would cause yet another delay, she would realize that it actually presented an opportunity to be even better prepared and continue her progress in the NACA program.
“Nothing deterred me”, she declared to program host Angeanette Dowles. “The pandemic gave me the opportunity to stop and ask, what do I really want?”
Now working from home like millions of others, Jamillah saw an excellent opportunity to ramp up her savings thanks to “no commute and no wandering aimlessly down Target aisles”. The extra savings allowed her to quickly amass the Minimum Required Funds she had been instructed to save by her NACA counselor.
Learning that NACA had switched to all online virtual appointments via video conference, she eagerly scheduled an appointment for August 14, 2000. She said it’s a date she will never forget because after that appointment, “I was immediately qualified”. Qualification meant that she could now begin the search for the home she had wanted for more than three years.
She spoke with and selected NACA in-house real estate agent Jerome Washington to represent her after their first telephone call. They developed an immediate connection since Jerome had grown up in the very same community in which Jamillah was now focused on finding her new home. Jerome, the NACA Real Estate Broker for the Philadelphia area had been a part of the closing for more than 200 NACA homebuyers in his four years with NACA.
“I’m not just an agent,” Jerome told the American Dream Program. “I like to be an advocate of homeownership. That’s what I like to call myself.”
Jamillah said, “My counselor asked me if I wanted to work with an In-House Agent and I said yes. Then he recommended Jerome. I was at peace with that first phone call.” She knew she had already found the right agent.
A buyer with steadfast determination and an agent with an advocate’s heart were exactly the right combination. The pandemic had created a short supply and high demand for homes. Jamillah had also narrowed her search down to a specific development in order to keep her promise to her son. Despite a very narrow focus and extreme competition among buyers, Jamillah and Jerome looked at 17 homes over four months.
“We were persistent and stayed patient”, Jerome said. “It paid off because we weren’t going to compromise.”
They kept putting in offers on the homes they saw, and their patience and persistence paid off in a way they never expected. When all was said and done, Jamillah actually had to make a choice, because two of her offers had been accepted simultaneously.
Jerome added, “That’s the beauty of it, to have the choice after being denied. She made the right choice of the two and made sure she got the house in the same school district she wanted, too.”
The only remaining issue to pop up prior to closing turned out to be a non-issue, once again thanks to Jamillah’s steadfastness.
She smiled and said, “I continued to save. So even though I had my Minimum Required Funds last August, I continued that savings plan. We did run into where the home appraised for significantly less than what was offered and what had been the asking price. After some negotiating, I was able to bring more to the closing table to offset what the appraisal was. It wasn’t a hardship though because I had been saving.”
Jamillah and her son no longer live in their cramped, less than 1,000 square foot, 1 bedroom, 1 bath apartment in which her son had to sleep in the den. Now they live in their own 3 bedroom, three bath home, which is over 2,000 square feet. Her son finally has his own bedroom and the third bedroom has become what Mom calls his “man cave” in which he practices his music as a member of his high school’s marching band.
Jamillah’s bedroom has a small balcony, and their home is close enough to the school that she can step out on the balcony and hear the marching band practice. Her mortgage has an amazing 2.125% fixed interest rate which means her monthly payment is only $200 more than what she paid in rent for the undersized and inadequate apartment. She is also building generational wealth as her son prepares to enter college next year.
When asked what advice Jamillah and Jerome would give to those starting out in the NACA program, Jamillah said, “Remain persistent, remain consistent and remain realistic. Don’t look at it like you are trying to keep up with the Joneses or anyone else. Look at what YOU can afford so generational wealth can take place. Stay the course and stay persistent.”
Jerome simply added, “You get what you put into it.”