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RISMEDIA, May 27, 2010—The road toward homeownership was a bit more difficult than self-proclaimed “country boy” Ronald Black thought it would be. He began his home search last summer in Polk County, Florida, a more rural community outside of Tampa’s Hillsborough County. After little luck going it alone with his credit union and still more frustration, even after hiring a REALTOR®, fate finally found Black.

Black was driving down the street in early November when he saw a sign posted on a telephone pole: “Government-owned foreclosures—$100 down. FHA financeable.” After inquiring, Black found he had only 24 hours to view the four-bedroom property he was interested in before the auction began.

“The asking price was $36,900,” recalls Black, a maintenance worker who services all 308 facilities in Hillsborough County. “They told me that I needed to place a bid. I told them that I didn’t want to place a bid; I just wanted to buy the house. Well, that didn’t fly, so I placed a bid for $37,100 and 24 hours later, I got the house.”

What Black didn’t know was that although the homes at the auction qualified for FHA financing, the home he purchased didn’t because it didn’t meet eligibility standards because of its age and condition. After all, it was built in 1959.

“My Realtor® started working right away to find me a lender— and did,” says Black. Wells Fargo preapproved Black for a loan. But unfortunately for Black, getting into the Lakeland, Florida, home wasn’t easy.

Because of the home’s condition, Black faced a number of financing hurdles. However, his lender said he was eligible for the government’s 203k program, a home renovation loan that is added to the buyer’s mortgage.

Once the 203k loan was approved, Black then had issues with the home improvement retailer he chose. “They didn’t return my calls and seemed difficult to work with,” says Black.

So, he moved on to Lowe’s.

“From the minute Lowe’s got my information, they began trying to help me,” he says. “Michelle [Deatherage] at Lowe’s spent an entire weekend helping me get the loan through and working with Wells Fargo. From not knowing her to getting the loan signed, it was under 48 hours. She was amazing. I wouldn’t be in this home without her.”

It took about five months, but finally Black closed on the house in early March. Less than two weeks later, Lowe’s began the vital—and very extensive—renovations, including brand-new electrical wiring of the entire home. “The home’s electrical system was nowhere near modern-day codes,” he explains. “It would never pass inspection.”

In fact, the house didn’t even have circuit breakers; it had screw-in fuses. “They have to redo every single wire, box and breaker. There was no central heat or air conditioning. You name it, they are redoing it.”

In addition to the electrical problems, Lowe’s contractors are also doing minor plumbing work and fixing the walls. They are also adding carpeting and new floors and renovating the entire kitchen with new cabinets and kitchen appliances. Plus, they will install a new hot water heater.

At press time, Lowe’s contractors have what they believe are just weeks left before the house is ready for inspection. If it passes, Black and his family can finally move in. “When this is all done, we’ll have the inspector come in to make sure the house now meets modern-day FHA qualifications,” says Black.

This move-in is important to Black, not just for himself, but for his entire family. His son, daughter-in-law and their almost 4-year-old will move into the home as well. “This house has gone from a want to a need. We are excited to move in,” he says.

Check back next month to read more about Black’s progress and to see if his renovations went according to plan.

For more information on the 203k loan program, visit or

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