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T.J. Ouillette and Kelley Ramsey

A photo of TJ Ouilette and Kelley Ramsey

T.J. Ouillette and Kelley Ramsey had searched for more than a year, seen about 70 different homes, put in four unsuccessful offers and explored several mortgage options before it all clicked.

Thanks to their own persistence, a solid homebuying team and an Operation Welcome Home loan from MassHousing, the couple is now settled in to their home in Spencer.

"It was pretty frustrating, but we had a great team," said Kelley. "Once we got this house, it was well worth it."

T.J. is a journeyman electrician apprentice who served from 2011 to 2016 in the U.S. Marine Corps. But because they are not married, T.J. and Kelley were unable to qualify for a Veterans’ Administration (VA) mortgage. Their attempts to get pre-approved for a conventional mortgage were marked with delays and dissatisfaction.

That’s when Christian Carter, a loan officer at MassHousing partner lender Radius Financial, turned the couple on to MassHousing’s Operation Welcome Home loan program for Veterans, active-duty military, members of the National Guard and Reserves and Gold Star families.

A Veteran himself, Christian is a "huge proponent of Operation Welcome Home." He notes that unlike VA Loans, Operation Welcome Home includes non-spousal income in the approval process, which helped T.J. and Kelley qualify for a mortgage. In addition, Christian noted Operation Welcome Home’s down payment or closing cost assistance loan, and the fact that MassHousing services its loans in-house, rather than through a third party.

"It was a long, drawn-out process for them, but once they had an approved offer, the Operation Welcome Home program was a great fit," Christian said.

Things started to fall into place. After months of looking, visiting multiple open houses and for-sale homes each weekend, T.J. and Kelley fell in love with a home in Spencer. Their offer was accepted and the home inspection was conducted without uncovering any problems. T.J. and Kelley completed a MassHousing-approved homebuyer education course, which helped teach them about better budgeting and managing their credit. Prior to closing, Kelley, a special education teacher, received a call-back and a job offer with the Spencer Public Schools.

T.J. and Kelley took advantage of Operation Welcome Home’s deferred down payment or closing cost assistance loan, and purchased their home while making a minimal payment at closing. That helped them paint and make some electrical updates, and is allowing them to plan for other improvements and upgrades.

"We absolutely love it, love the freedom" said Kelley. "We’ve been so happy ever since we walked through the door."