FALL RIVER – The local real estate market has exploded for some people, but others like Jeremy and Sharyn Souza are in a place they call “no man’s land” – they don’t have enough money to pay the down payment on a house at this market, but have too much to qualify for assistance.
Three local real estate agents help the Souzas move out of no man’s land and into their own home, offering them $10,000 for a down payment.
“We are very excited to look to the future,” said Jeremy Souza. “When someone does that, saying thank you is not enough.”
Pam Laliberte-Lebeau, real estate agent with Keller Williams and chairman of the city council, said she, Mike Amaral of Amaral and Associates and Tom Gamache of Dan Quintal Real Estate have teamed up to flip homes together and give back to the community. of Fall River.
“On every house that we flip, we put money into a fund,” she said. “We’re going to offer it to people looking to buy in Fall River who might be short on down payment or closing costs. Sometimes people are a little tight.
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‘When is it going to be our turn?’
The Souzas are the first recipients of what Laliberte-Lebeau and her team call the Little Pink Houses Community Fund — and they’re exactly the kind of people she described.
Jeremy Souza, 50, works for the city’s Community Maintenance Department. Sharyn, 51, works for a retirement home. They are a hard-working, middle-class couple with grandchildren and roots in this region.
“We were in an apartment and stayed there for 21 years,” Jeremy said. “It sold out, and that meant we had to move for the first time in a very long time.”
Laliberte-Lebeau said the COVID pandemic has reduced DCM’s overtime budget, which has hurt the Souzas’ income. They qualified for a $300,000 mortgage, but didn’t have the money to put down a down payment. Souza said Laliberté-Lebeau accompanied them to mortgage brokers and the city’s community development office to try to help them.
“There were programs where we were just in the gap, we didn’t qualify,” Jeremy said.
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“They don’t earn enough to save and have all sorts of options for houses. And at the same time, they earn too much to qualify for assistance,” said Laliberte-Lebeau. “It really bothered me. They are really good people.
So, on April 15, she, Amaral, and Gamache dipped into their house-turning fund for the first time and took the Souzas to lunch, where they told them the good news.
“They threw it at us,” Sharyn said. “We had no idea.”
Laliberte-Lebeau said there were “lots of tears” when she and her partners told them they now had a free deposit.
“It was overwhelming, it was exciting, it was emotional. All of those emotions rolled into one,” Jeremy said. “Finally, here we are, I didn’t think we were going to be able to buy our own house.”
Amaral, who owns both Amaral and Associates and construction company Innovative Builders, said his company had done charity work before, but it looked different.
“Pam came to me with this opportunity, and I thought it was a good thing to do with the community and I know it helps real people in the city,” Amaral said. “And that’s the most important thing – to actually see where the funds are going and how it’s changing people’s lives. It’s a great feeling.
Jeremy Souza said he and Sharyn have seen many reality TV shows where wonderful surprises happen to people. They would look at them and think, “Wow, nothing like this ever happens to people like me or people I know. My wife works very hard. I work very hard for what we have. When will it be our turn? That would be great.’ And look, it happened!
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“Grateful and Blessed”
As the three sell, they will add to the fund for the next few lucky ones who are on the edge of home ownership in Fall River.
For now, the Souzas are in a small apartment, still looking for their dream home to spend their down payment on. Laliberte-Lebeau helps them find one. If it’s one of their flip houses, that’s fine, but Amaral noted that whether or not the Souzas choose to buy from them, the down payment gift is guaranteed to be theirs.
Jeremy Souza is humble and told Laliberte-Lebeau: “It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular. But they want it to be theirs and they want to stay in Fall River.
“When I started selling real estate, people were like, ‘Anywhere but Fall River,'” Laliberte-Lebeau said. “It crushed me. But as the market has changed, it has really changed. People who grew up here don’t want to move.
The Souza are part of it. Soon they will have a piece of Fall River to themselves.
“For people to do this with their own hard-earned money,” Jeremy said. “There are still really good people out there who want to help good people, and that’s exciting. I’m just grateful and blessed that they can do this for the wife and me.
Dan Medeiros can be reached at [email protected] Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.