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Nick Gero

A photo of Nick Gero

Nick Gero was not expecting to buy his first home this year, especially after purchasing a new Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Nick and his girlfriend Jillian were renting an apartment in Chicopee, where he works as a police officer, but after a year he realized "it was time to upgrade," said Nick, 25.

"I did not expect 2016 to be the year to buy a home but it came on fast and I got home buying fever," he said. "Something got to me. Other people around my age started to purchase homes and I figured I have my life together and that I deserved that."

Nick had several things going for him that allowed him to purchase his ranch-style home in West Springfield. He was securely employed and as a five-year member of the Air Force Reserve—including a six-month deployment to the Middle East in 2014—he was eligible for a MassHousing Operation Welcome Home loan for Veterans.

"Having Veteran status is what allowed me to purchase a home early on," he said.

Nick met with Lee Bank Loan Officer Greg Landry and after comparing the MassHousing loan with a loan from the Veterans Administration, they decided the MassHousing mortgage was the better option.

"The VA loan would have been cheaper monthly but the MassHousing loan would be better for resale," said Nick. "My home buying experience was pretty fast in the beginning. I found my home about eight days after being pre-qualified. The loan officer I worked with from Lee Bank was great. He answered my texts and calls in a timely manner. We compared the VA and MassHousing loans next to each other, and he showed me the MassHousing loan would be the better deal."

Greg said because Nick is not a disabled Veteran, he would have had to pay an upfront VA funding fee; the MassHousing loan was a better option with regard to fees. "The MassHousing loans are also processed and underwritten in house and that makes for a much smoother process," he added. "Nick was a pleasure to deal with and that sentiment was also expressed by his real estate agent, James Cichetti from Cichetti Teamwork at Sears Real Estate."

Nick was also able to obtain his Operation Welcome Home loan with a small down payment that has allowed him to meet his monthly mortgage and homeowner costs as well as the payments on his Harley. While he was only required to put down 3% of his home purchase price, Greg noted that Nick put down 5%, which gave him a slightly lower loan amount and saved him some money on his monthly mortgage insurance premium.

"I would not have been able to put 20 percent down," Nick said. "The low down payment option was a major factor in being able to buy the house."

MassHousing Mortgages come with the Agency's signature MIPlus mortgage insurance that will pay a borrower's monthly principal and interest payments for up to six months in the event of a job loss. MIPlus will also cover Operation Welcome Home Borrowers for up to six months if they are deployed on active duty.

After moving in with their six-month-old Golden Retriever puppy, Nick and Jillian immediately felt the difference between owning and renting.

"I like the fact that I don't have a neighbor next to me or on top of me connected to my living space like an apartment," said Nick. "Owning a home is an amazing feeling. I feel a great sense of accomplishment. I am proud to call the property my own. Owning gives me the freedom to alter and modify whatever I want. We get to enjoy a dog without a hassle from a landlord.

"It was a great decision even after I bought the motorcycle," he added. "We can sit down in our living room and have our puppy with us. We love the feeling that we have this house and it's ours together."