March 18, 2015

Taking care of his credit helps veteran fulfill lifelong dream

Vietnam War veteran Isaac Walters turned his life around a decade ago and late last year fulfilled a lifelong dream of home ownership — thanks in part to Wells Fargo’s NeighborhoodLIFT® down payment assistance program.

Isaac Walters rarely tells war stories these days. There is peace finally for the Vietnam War veteran. And there is a home.

Despite years of struggling, Isaac says he never gave up the hope he’d one day have his own home.

“It was my lifelong dream,” says the 63-year-old Navy veteran from Indianapolis, who survived two tours of duty in the war.

Isaac never gave up in chasing his dream, says Josh Hoffmeister, a sales supervisor for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Indianapolis. From the moment Josh met Isaac, the mortgage consultant saw something special in him.

“He told me what he had been through, how his life had gone down the wrong path after coming back from the war, how he’d struggled,” Josh says. “But now he’s someone who has really found himself and knows what he wants in life.”

He says Isaac showed a dogged determination in shaping up his finances, tracking down all the information for the paperwork, and clearing every hurdle to buy a home.

Isaac qualified for a Department of Veterans Affairs-sponsored mortgage and received a $15,000 grant from the NeighborhoodLIFT® down payment assistance and education program — a joint effort of Wells Fargo and NeighborWorks America. To date, the program has created nearly 9,000 homeowners nationwide, according to the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation.

Isaac closed on his home last November, and he says it was a high point for him.

To fulfill his dream of buying a home, Isaac says his first priority was to raise his credit score so he could get the best mortgage rate possible. He reined in his credit card use, established an on-time payment history, and paid down his debt. He says those steps boosted his credit score nearly 100 points — putting him in line for a good interest rate and the down payment assistance.

Next, Isaac found the house he wanted — a duplex — which would help him generate income by renting out one of the units.

“He’s a very smart man,” says Josh, the sales supervisor for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. “The rent basically pays his mortgage, so he’s set everything up just right.”

“From the day I moved into my home, I haven’t stopped smiling,” Isaac says.

“He’s had a tough time, but he has pulled himself out of it,” Josh says. “What he has been able to do is amazing.”

A version of this story also appeared in the 2014 Wells Fargo Annual Report (PDF).