Lauren Williams liked her sister’s condo in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood so much that she decided to buy a condo in the same building. She even used sister Lindsey’s experience with a down payment assistance program to attain financing.
Williams had her eye on one condo in the City Heights complex and was disappointed when the unit went under contract. When the unit went back on the market, she hopped on the foreclosure. Williams, 27, who moved from Marietta and works in education, chatted about her experience.
Q: How familiar were you with Old Fourth Ward?
A: Lindsey (her sister) rented out a studio space and began living here. I used to spend a lot of time down here because it was so conveniently located to all the restaurants, shops and clubs we frequented, which was awesome.
Q: Did you and your sister know you wanted to buy right away?
A: We’re sisters and best friends. We were thinking about getting a place together. We started looking to rent. My father, Peter Williams, who was extremely instrumental throughout the entire process of purchasing our homes, said we should look at purchasing to invest our money wisely. There were units available that looked reasonable.
Q: Why did this condo appeal to both of you?
A: The appeal was that there were two spaces with one bedroom and the same square feet. It was perfect for what we needed in our lives. Also, because of the way the building is shaped, it’s kind of like a diamond. You get this awesome view of the city. That also was a huge draw for us.
Q: Since the condo was a foreclosure, what was the condition?
A: It looked as though whoever was living here before was trying to put a lot of work into it. My bedroom has all hardwood floors. They put in awesome closet organizers. They did some nice upgrades to the bathrooms (including a new Jacuzzi tub and light fixtures). I put new paint, and all I changed were the floors throughout the living and dining space (from tile to wood laminate). I did have to get a refrigerator.
Q: How important was the down payment assistance program?
A: I don’t think that we would have been able to move forward as quickly as we were able to without the program. It was extremely helpful in the beginning because you are required to take the first-time homebuyer course.
Q: What’s a tip for buyers?
A: Make sure you have some other options so you won’t be like me. I got really devastated when this went under contract (she later beat out other bids to get the condo). I’m really lucky that it did happen, but I know that for a lot of people it doesn’t happen that way.
At a Glance
Lauren Williams’ condo, built in 1980 in Atlanta’s City Heights complex, has one bedroom, one bath and about 800 square feet. She purchased it in 2012, assisted by Kathryn Flowers with Chapman Hall Realtors. Condos in City Heights are listed from $57,000-$99,000.
Neighborhood LIFT is a partnership between NeighborWorks America, whose local partners include Invest Atlanta (the city’s economic development authority), Resources for Residents and Communities, and Wells Fargo. The program offers up to $15,000 for down payment and/or closing costs or for renovation, for an existing or new home in the city of Atlanta. The program has created more than 150 new homeowners in the city, and $3 million is still available. A $1,000 program fee is required.