For three days, Nicole Tomlin weathered hopelessness, despair, happiness, and elation.
Such was the roller coaster of emotions that Nicole experienced during the process of buying her home.
Nicole, a long-time customer of America’s Car-Mart at Broken Arrow, Okla., had always dreamed about owning her own home. For years, she put off her goal. But finally, she and her family planned, budgeted, and sacrificed to make the move from renter to homeowner.
“I always have had good job history, but crazy credit,” says Nicole, Patient Account Supervisor at a Tulsa hospital. Her path to homeownership wasn’t easy, but with some help from Car-Mart, Nicole recently moved into her brand-new house with her husband and four sons.
A dream comes true.
Life was going great for the Tomlin family. They were pre-approved for a home loan. They were building a new home. Then adversity struck. Nicole’s husband, Elwood, learned his cancer had returned and unfortunately, he, also, had a car accident. Their family vehicle was totaled, and insurance did not cover the vehicle.
Car-Mart worked with Nicole on payment modifications. While waiting for the insurance to come through; however, and thinking insurance was going to cover the payments, Nicole, inadvertently missed two payments.
“I was going on about my business,” says the always-on-time payment type of person. “The home lender called and said there was a problem. I didn’t know I was late with my payments.”
Nicole’s heart stopped beating, and the tears flowed. She then told herself to get it together and she went into survival mode. Nicole was determined to find a solution. She couldn’t let her hard work of saving and budgeting derail her dream.
She researched and called Car-Mart’s corporate office. She left a message with her story. “A lady called me back the same day, saying they’re working on it, and they’ll be in touch soon,” says Nicole.
There was hope.
Nicole called the lender only to learn that the builder wanted to put her house on the market the next day. She asked the builder to give her some more time, and the builder gave her 10 days.
Car-Mart lends a helping hand
Rick Musial, Vice President of Underwriting at Car-Mart, called Nicole and suggested she write a letter explaining her situation.
“I screamed so loud. Oh, my goodness. It’s going to happen,” says Nicole about this step. Rick worked with the credit bureaus to determine a solution.
“We know every customer has a story,” adds Rick. “Improving our local communities is who we are and helping our customers achieve their goals is what sets us apart.”
After the credit bureaus reviewed Nicole’s information, they approved her ability to borrow money to buy a house.
Nicole then received a message from Rick at 7 a.m. “This has been done,” the email read. Nicole sent Rick’s email to the lender and builder with the message, “It’s done.” They checked her credit score and once again, Nicole was approved for her dream home.
During this three-day timeframe, Nicole did not share what was happening with her sons. “I couldn’t face them. I didn’t know how to tell them that this house we’ve been driving by every weekend and talking about their room colors, that it might not happen. I couldn’t do it,” Nicole recalls.
“Without Car-Mart’s help, I would not be in this home,” says Nicole. “It’s really unbelievable. The turnaround time of how it happened, that level of customer service, I didn’t expect it. I just explained what happened, they listened, and their actions were swift.”
“It means so much to me,” adds Nicole, who will be the first of her three sisters to own a home.
And, when it comes to buying vehicles, Nicole highly recommends Car-Mart, and after four vehicles, she knows what she is talking about. “Car-Mart will work with you. It’s an easy process. No pressure. They don’t really sell you as much as help you get you into that car,” Nicole mentions. “Car-Mart has always been good to me.”
Nicole’s dream house – a dream come true
For starters, each of Nicole’s four sons will have their own room. The 1,900-square-foot home features an open floor plan, patio and at Nicole’s direction, a soaker tub, just to name a few features
“Picking the tile, the sink, the cabinets, it’s amazing. It’s something I thought I never would be able to do,” smiles Nicole.
The first item of business for Nicole in her new home was a long, luxurious bubble bath. “It was amazing,” says Nicole, while adding that she also enjoyed cooking her first family meal on her gas stove.
Owning a home offers a sense of pride to Nicole. “Working in the yard and planting a rose bush – it’s mine. It’s all me in thinking about the things I want to do. It’s something I worked for,” Nicole says. “It feels accomplished. I have arrived. I have accomplished a goal.”
Nicole has two sons in college. Elwood IV is a third-year pre-med major at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. Elijah is a freshman majoring in Accounting at Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee. Ellis is a high school sophomore and Elliott is in the fourth grade.
The Tomlin family is settling into their new home. Elwood’s cancer is in remission. Nicole’s sons are happy and proud. Their dogs – Coco and Tyson – roam around in their new backyard. They are part of a neighborhood with a community pool, giving them that comfortable feel of community.
“I’m so appreciative of the team at Car-Mart. They exceeded my expectations. Other ‘buy here pay here’ places just want your money. But that call back from Car-Mart was life-changing,” says Nicole.
All in all, Nicole says this experience changed her for the better. She will be sure to return calls. She has taught her sons the value of planning ahead and budgeting, as well as the importance of good credit.* She will coach her sisters on the process of purchasing a home.
And, now she has a new sense of confidence and pride having achieved a major financial goal and overcoming a huge challenge along the way. “It all means so much to me,” concludes Nicole.
Indeed, Nicole goes home to something that’s hers. Her place of peace and celebration.