07 Sep Home Buyer Wish List Fulfilled
Gretchen Tome was a long-time Baltimore City resident and renter before starting her search for a home to buy. She knew she wanted the all the benefits of city living, but had dreams of being surrounded by green space and a backyard oasis.
As a social worker, it was an important priority to find a neighborhood that had a strong community organization. Having previously rented in Charles Village, Mt. Washington, and Waverly, Gretchen only knew of the area from her runs at Lake Montebello.
Her realtor recommended the Belair-Edison neighborhood knowing Gretchen would appreciate the green, wooded parks, and quickly feel a part of the community with a well-established organization like Belair-Edison Neighborhood, Inc. (BENI).
“The neighborhood hit everything on my check list, the property was on the corner of the park and very peaceful,” said Gretchen. “After driving the street day and night I felt safe and knew this was where I wanted to buy my first home.”
After researching more about the neighborhood online Gretchen enrolled in a First-Time Home Buyer program at HARBEL Housing Partnership.
“Going through the program gave me the confidence to make the right financial decision. It gave me a realistic understanding of the many steps in buying a home.”
Through the HARBEL program, help from her realtor, and BENI she learned she could qualify for down payment assistance with the Partner. Gretchen received $6,000 in down payment assistance and was eligible for a lower interest rate.
“After working through the homebuying process I quickly realized what an asset BENI was and I knew I wanted to learn more.”
Since her move, she’s become an active member of the community as a BENI Resident Market Leader, a prominent resource to her block and others to beautify and strengthen her community, and regularly attends the BECA community meetings, always meeting new neighbors.
“It’s a great feeling knowing you have neighbors that look out for you. I want to meet everyone that wants to make Belair-Edison better.”
Gretchen has met many like-minded neighbors and they’ve joined together to participate in block clean-ups and block projects. Through a block improvement grant Gretchen and her neighbors decided they wanted their block to display symbols of “peace” through outdoor decorative flags. “We worked with BENI to create a block project that gave every house an opportunity to hang a flag. It was beautiful to see all the different flags lining our streets.”
With her passion for running she’s converted her running group, Baltimore Pace Makers, into regular Belair-Edison runners.
“We used to run around the city in various parks, but after moving to Belair-Edison I introduced the group to Herring Run Park and the large number of available trails. The group was blown away that they had never discovered the area and now we meet up for run here every Saturday.”
Next on Gretchen’s agenda is to learn more about gardening and continue to bring her backyard vision to life, and meet more neighbors at events like the next BENI Mosaic Art Project.