River Falls – The local real estate market has boomed for some people, but others like Jeremy and Sharyn Souza in a place they call “no man’s land” – they don’t have enough money to afford the down payment on a home in this market, but you have plenty to qualify for help.
Three local real estate agents are helping the Souza family move out of no-man’s land and live in their homes, by giving them $10,000 in down payment.
“We are very excited to look to the future,” Jeremy Souza said. “When someone does that, saying thanks is not enough.”
Pam Laliberte-Lebeau, a real estate agent with Keeler Williams and city council president, said it’s Mike Amaral of Amaral and Associates and Tom Gamache with Dan Quintal Real Estate who have partnered to turn the homes together and give back to the Fall River community.
“Every house we turn over, we put the money in a box,” she said. “We are going to gift it to people looking to buy in Fall River who might be short on down payment or closing costs. Sometimes people are kind of there.”
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“When is our turn?”
Al Sousa are the first to get hold of what Laliberte-Lebeau and her team call the Little Pink Houses Community Fund – and they’re exactly the kind of people she was describing.
Jeremy Souza, 50, works in the city’s Community Conservation Department. Sharyn, 51, works in a nursing home. They are a hard-working, middle-class couple with grandchildren and roots in this region.
“We were in an apartment, and we stayed there for 21 years,” Jeremy said. “It’s sold out, which means we’ve had to move in for the first time in a very long time.”
Laliberte-Lebeau said the COVID pandemic has slashed DCM’s overtime budget, hurting Sousas’ income. They qualified for a $300,000 mortgage, but they didn’t have cash for the down payment. Souza said Laliberte-Lebeau accompanied them to mortgage brokers and to the city’s community development office to try and get them some help.
“There were some programs where we were just on a gap, and we didn’t qualify,” Jeremy said.
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“They don’t earn enough to be able to save and have all kinds of options for homes. At the same time, they earn too much to qualify for any help,” LaLibert Lebo said.
So on April 15, she, Amaral, and Jamac pulled out their house flip-box for the first time and took Souza to lunch, giving them the good news.
“They put it on us,” Shareen said. “We had no proof.”
Laliberte-Lebeau said there were “a lot of tears” when she and her partners told them they now had a free down payment.
“It was overwhelming, it was exciting, it was emotional. It wrapped all these feelings into one,” Jeremy said. Finally, here we go, we didn’t think we’d be able to buy our house.”
Amaral, who owns both Amaral and Associates and Innovative Builders, said his company has done charitable work before, but this was different.
“Pam came to me with this opportunity, and I thought it was a great thing to do with the community and know it helps the actual people in town,” Amaral said. Go and how it changes people’s lives. it’s a wonderful feeling. ”
Jeremy Souza said that he and Sharyn watched a lot of reality TV shows where people get amazing surprises. They’d watch them and think, ‘Wow, nothing like that happens to people like me or people I know. My wife works hard. I work hard for what we have. When is our turn? That’s going to be awesome.’ And look – it happened!”
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Thankful and blessed
As the three make sales, they will add to the fund for the following lucky people who are on the brink of home ownership in Fall River.
Currently, the Souzas are living in a small apartment, and they are still looking for their dream home to spend the down payment on. Laliberte-Lebeau helps them find one. If it’s one of their opposite homes, that’s fine, but Amaral indicated that whether the Souzas choose to buy from them or not, the gift of down payment is guaranteed to them.
Jeremy Souza is humble, and told Laliberte-Lebeau, “It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular.” But they want it to be their own, and they want to stay in Fall River.
“When I started selling real estate, people were like ‘Anywhere but Fall River,’” LaLiberty Lippo said. “It just broke me. But as the market has changed, that has really changed. The people who grew up here don’t want to move.”
Among them is Souzas. Soon, they’ll have a piece of the Vaal River that they call their own.
“For people to do it with their 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 grateful and blessed to be able to 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.