Renting helped buyer save up downpayment

Renting an apartment with a roommate helped Jennifer Stephens save up a “nice little pot of money” for her first place. When her roommate got engaged and moved to Alabama, Stephens decided to invest that money in real estate.

Stephens narrowed her location to Cobb County, but inside Interstate 285, touring townhomes with Marty Bosworth, a real estate agent with Harry Norman, Realtors.

“We looked at a ton of different properties,” she said.

Features such as a garage and a neighborhood with a pool were at the top of the list, said Stephens, 31, who works in the construction industry for JE Dunn.

No. 1

Too much clutter?

The Paces Run townhomes had the Vinings location and a garage. One unit was dirty and overwhelming, though. The seller was supposed to be out of the three-bedroom townhome, but she had left items such as food in the refrigerator and personal items in the closet, Stephens said. The units in Paces Run, built in 1984-1985, are in the low- to mid-$300,000s.

No. 2

The right amenities

Overlook at Westbury had four townhomes that she considered. The top contender was a three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom townhome built in 2011 with hardwood floors and garage. She would have to repaint, especially in the great room and sunroom. The Pulte townhomes, with two-garages and a pool, range from the $250,000s to $280,000s.

No. 3

Gorgeous but smaller

One three-bedroom townhome in Smyrna’s West Village neighborhood caught her attention from the entry. “The main floor was beautiful. But when I went up in the bedrooms, the bedrooms were small, and so were the closets,” she said. She had to determine if there was enough space to store her shoes, clothes and purses. West Village has townhomes ranging from the low $300,000s to mid $400,000s.

The Choice

No. 2. The larger master bedroom and sunroom in Overlook at Westbury won Stephens over. Plus, it didn’t have a bit of carpet. “I hate carpet. I didn’t want to do any renovations because I’m a contractor. I manage construction all the time so I wanted easy maintenance,” she said.

Bosworth referred her to Meredith Little Williams with W.D. Little Mortgage Corp. and closing attorney Peter Babcock with Campbell & Brannon. Stephens put 15 percent down and qualified for a 15-year loan at 3.25 percent. When Stephens was concerned about the HVAC not cooling, Bosworth arranged for a technician to come to the townhome and service the unit.

“They deserve big crowns in heaven for how they just guided me through the process,” she said.

Stephens moved in during June, and about a month later, the ZIP code changed to 30339 in Atlanta. She said townhomes already are selling for above her purchase price, into the high $200,000s. “The timing, everything worked out extremely well,” she said.