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RISMEDIA, January 22, 2010—When Maitland, Florida residents Sean and Catherine Woods found their “dream home,” they thought their search was over. Filled with what Sean Woods describes as “tons of bells and whistles,” including a $30,000 kitchen, they were sure this was it—until the home inspection.

“Within 15 minutes, our home inspector stopped and told us we were wasting our time; the house was garbage,” recalls Woods, a restaurant owner in the Orlando area. “The home was infested with termites and the carpet was laid over rock. After that, I said to my wife, ‘Let’s find a modest home—something we can afford and spend on it what we want to spend.’”

The Woods’ Realtor, Heather Joubran with RE/MAX Central Realty in Lake Mary, Florida, had shown them several homes that Woods says were “completely destroyed, but located in beautiful areas. We thought of those homes as kind of like having a blank slate.”

Because Woods was slightly familiar with HUD and the 203k program, the couple decided to look into their options. “I had a very basic knowledge of the HUD program, but thought it might be out of reach, given the economy,” says Woods. “However, [RE/MAX agent] Heather [Joubran] was pivotal; she explained everything to us.” Shortly thereafter, Woods and his wife began discussing the 203k option with their lender, Wells Fargo, which offers a streamlined 203k program called Remodel Express.

Once the couple qualified, Woods says everything began moving quickly. Their first choice was what company they would use for their renovations; they chose Lowe’s, working with the company’s Fern Park, Florida location. From there, everything—from cabinets and countertops to floors and toilets—had to be selected, all before closing.

Fortunately for the couple, the management team at Lowe’s Fern Park location had been working with 203k customers since the first quarter of 2009 and were prepared.

“From the start, we have been very proactive and responsive to our 203k customer needs,” explains Jeff Wernsing, commercial sales specialist, for Lowe’s Fern Park store. “We quickly introduce them to our management team and show them why they’ve chosen the right team and the right company. We facilitate the entire process and make it a great experience for them.”

Woods agrees. “Lowe’s was great; they are on top of everything,” he says. “My wife and I are extremely busy. Once we got involved working with store management, I told them to bug me to death; to send me dates, itineraries, paperwork—they did that and more.”

According to Wernsing, the attention to detail is all in a day’s work. “There are a lot of complexities involved in the work we’re doing on their homes.”

Indeed, in the Woods’ case, they made renovations “from the ground up,” painting the entire home; putting down new laminate floors; tiling in the kitchen and two bathrooms; and adding new kitchen cabinets, countertops and new plumbing, which included new toilets and sinks.

“We had so much work to do,” Woods explains. “Our home was built in 1968 so a lot of hurricanes have come through here and homes are worn down.” Especially given the amount of work that had to be done, Woods credits his Lowe’s contractors with a job very well done.

“The contractors’ quality of work is amazing,” lauds Woods. “Ernie, our laminate floor installer, was able to lay down 1,800 square feet of flooring in two days—you will not find a better example of work. It is absolutely beautiful.”

For more information on the 203k loan program, please visit www.hud.gov or www.re-buildusa.com.

Lowe’s contractors and installers are licensed where required. For more information, please visit www.lowes.com.

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