Kimekia Holifield has always had a passion for helping families who want to purchase a home. She is a former real estate agent and also spent nearly 8 years as a certified housing counselor for a local nonprofit. A year and a half ago, she decided to narrow her focus to mortgage lending and joined First Horizon Bank. She says, “I couldn’t have made a better choice than coming to First Horizon. They are dedicated to assisting low- and moderate-income customers through programs and grant funds as well as giving back to the community.” Kimekia was recently recognized as an AHFA Leading Lender for the 4th quarter of FY20.
Q: How did you hear about our programs?
A: I first heard of AFHA programs while working in a past role in financial stability for low- and moderate-income families. I was happy to learn that First Horizon was an approved lender for the Step Up program when I first arrived. It feels good to be on this side of the process and involved in making homeownership possible for so many families.
Q: What do you think is the greatest benefit of Step Up for homebuyers?
A: So many customers are focused solely on credit score, they often don’t realize assets are required to purchase a home. Many customers also believe if they are a first-time homebuyer, they are guaranteed down payment assistance. This program has allowed those customers to be able to purchase now, while rates are at historic lows, instead of waiting until they have the down payment saved. I recommend the program to my customers because the rates are very competitive and higher-income earners are also able to use the program.
Q: What do you like most about working with our programs?
A: The Step Up program is very streamlined and easy to use. The process of reserving a loan and sending funds is very smooth, and the program provides exemplary customer service.
Q: What is the best advice you can give to first-time homebuyers?
A: The best advice that I can give is to remember you are more than your credit score, invest time in a homebuyer education course, and work with the professionals in the real estate field to make a plan for your home purchase.
Q: Anything else you would like to include?
A: I would like to commend the Step Up Program for remaining available to customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. So many investors made credit requirements almost impossible, while the Step Up program kept credit requirements within reason. It means the difference between continuing to rent and becoming a homeowner for some. It certainly makes my job easier being able to provide an affordable option to my customers during this time.