Achieve Your Dream Of Homeownership: You Could Win $10,000

Even if you don't win the cash,you'll come out on top. But don't take our word for it -- three entrants from our first contesttell how homeownership pays off.

of six, including Andres, 7; Anliana, 5; Anjoule, 4; and Amelia, 5 months, moved in July, after the end of the school year.

Almost immediately after they started dating in April 2004, Sean Bradley, 22, and Anneza, 26, knew they’d be renting only temporarily. “We wanted something that would be ours,” says Sean, a financial adviser with MetLife.

To reach their goal of homeownership, the couple began a disciplined savings plan to pay for their wedding and for a down payment. Soon, saving took priority over all unnecessary spending — including Chuck E. Cheese romps, McDonald’s fast food, and toys for 4-year-old Imani, Anneza’s daughter from a previous relationship. Imani was not amused.

“She suffered right along with us,” says Sean, with a smile.

When the Bradleys began house hunting, they had only a few hundred dollars in savings between them. The couple stopped eating out and going to movies, and instead began clipping coupons and buying household items on sale. Sean took a second job earning $3,000 helping a friend build decks during the summer. And the couple opened an online savings account at www.emigrant to take advantage of the 3.75% interest rate, higher than what most banks offered at the time. Between Sean’s annual salary of $52,000 plus commission, and Anneza’s $25,000 salary as an administrative assistant at a landscaping company, the Bradleys felt they’d take in stride the increase from paying $1,000 in rent to a little over $2,000 a month on a mortgage.

On July 22, 2005, Sean made another bid to help realize his family’s dream of homeownership. He entered the Own Your First Home Contest. In the essay he submitted as part of his entry, Sean identified Imani as a prime motivator behind the move from renting to ownership. “[Through homeownership] we believe we can get a good, solid foundation to grow on,” Sean wrote, “and have a positive net worth that our daughter will see and learn from as she matures into a beautiful young woman.”

By October, three months after entering the contest, the Bradleys were married and approved for 100% financing of a $355,000, 30-year fixed-rate loan with Covenant Financial. They had saved $10,000 for closing costs, coupled with a $2,000 gift from Anneza’s father. The family moved into their new four-bedroom home, recently appraised for $462,000, in Laplata, Maryland, and they are now happily awaiting the birth of their second child, due in December.

For the Bradleys, homeownership has meant having a safe backyard where Imani can play. It’s hard to put a price on that. “My wife and I had been striving to not only get out of our rental,” Sean explains, “but to allow our daughter to know at a young age the joys of having something to call her own — namely a backyard and swing set.”

Enter our 2nd annual Own Your First Home Contest,and get a chance to win $10,000 toward your down payment.

Last year, we held the inaugural Own Your First Home Contest in recognition of the

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