How This Texas Couple Earned $3,585 After Purchasing Their First Home
When Travis and Miryea Ayala Cormier showed up for the final walk-through before signing papers to own their first home, they stumbled into a disaster.
The recently renovated midcentury modern home was torn apart. Unexpected construction work to repair mold damage had left tarps and cardboard layering the floors, kitchen cabinets sitting on the dining room table and quartz countertops propped up on two-by-fours.
That wasn’t even the first time they’d attempted to close. The first time, weeks prior, the seller was in Australia, unreachable by phone.
“I’m the kind of person who will do a lot of research about something to know what I should expect,” Travis says. But the 27-year-old Houston resident quickly realized there are some situations you can’t prepare for when buying a home.
The couple didn’t panic too much. They had an advocate on their side — a reliable real estate agent through Door, a Texas-based startup. Their agent, Matthew Callahan, guided them through their chaotic first home-buying experience, eventually helping them land their dream home.
And another nice perk from working with Door? Buyers get cash back. Once the Cormiers closed, Door applied a $3,585 rebate to their closing costs.
Deciding to Purchase a First Home
Earlier this year, the newlyweds began to consider purchasing a home.
They were living in an 800-square-foot apartment in a Houston suburb with their two 80-pound Great Pyrenees mixes, Anderson and Mozzie.
Thanks to roadwork, their commutes were quickly becoming unbearable. Travis’ approached two hours one way — on top of his 12-hour shifts as a quality control chemist. Miryea, an attorney, could make it to work in 45 minutes if she timed it right. If she hit traffic, which she often did, her commute doubled.
They’re both avid cooks, too, so they thought a bigger kitchen would be nice — maybe one with a level stovetop so they could evenly melt butter. (It’s the little things.)
When they started their search, they reached out to a traditional real estate broker. However, everything hovered above their price-point. They decided not to rush it — to hit pause and continue to save money.
A few months later, Travis heard an ad on the radio. On this rare day, he wasn’t listening to a podcast.
The ad was for Door, and its main selling point was that half of your real estate agent’s commission goes to you, the buyer. That’s because Door agents work on salary, not commission, so your agent’s commission (which is a typical part of costs for the seller) gets funneled to the company. Door decided to be nice and shares half of that with the buyer.
On average, Door says buyers pocket $12,000 at closing.
The rebate certainly sparked the couple’s interest, but as they would learn, that wasn’t even its biggest selling point.
A Free Real Estate Agent Turned Advocate
Later in the year, in early June 2018, the Cormiers reached out to Door and were matched with Callahan, their agent.
Because Door’s real estate agents work on salary and not commission, the couple immediately felt at ease. They felt Door agents would respect their budget and not try to upsell them a home they couldn’t afford. As a safety net, the couple was set on buying a home they could afford on one income.
Callahan helped the couple find homes that fit their criteria and attended each showing — no matter how last-minute.
As they walked through each home, Callahan made sure to point out character flaws, many of which the Cormiers wouldn’t have noticed. For example, Callahan knew the Cormiers loved to cook, so he pointed out when one home had only one electric outlet in the kitchen.
“Since his paycheck wasn’t contingent on selling a house to us, we never felt pressured to overlook something, even if it was a small detail,” Travis says.
Callahan also respected the couple’s budget, which is what had caused them to give up searching several months earlier.
“He was never like, ‘Why don’t y’all just increase your budget a bit?’” Travis says. “He was like, ‘We’ll search for six months to find what y’all want.’ Because it wasn’t just about the house. It was about the finances.”
When Negotiations and Closings Get… Moldy
When Travis and Miryea finally found The Home, they ran into issues.
The inspector suspected the house had been flooded during 2017’s Hurricane Harvey and suggested they bring in a mold inspector. Sure enough, there was mold.
With Callahan backing the couple, the seller agreed to pay for the mold remediation. The initial $8,000 bill, however, didn’t consider necessary construction after the remediation. Travis estimates total costs ended up around $30,000.
The seller asked the Cormiers to help out, but this wasn’t part of their budget. With Miryea’s experience as an attorney and Callahan as their advocate, they stood firm.
This is the point in the story where the seller ghosted at closing. The mold work wasn’t done, and the seller was somewhere in Australia. The Cormiers secured a rate-lock extension on their financing, guaranteeing their rates. This was another $750 fee. The Cormiers, once again, asked the seller to cover this cost. After all, this delay wasn’t their fault.
Callahan negotiated it.
“Matt never told us anything like, ‘You know guys, it’s only $750. Do you really want to lose the house over that?’” Travis says. “Matt’s only response was, ‘That’s reasonable. We’ll stand by this, and we’ll fight on this.’”
And they did. They stood strong and closed the deal. However, they retained the rights to their funds until the mold situation was resolved.
On the day the couple moved in, they shuffled furniture around construction workers as they finished putting the house back together. However, the chaos settled pretty quickly, their funds transferred to the seller and everything settled into place.
A One-Stop Shop for Your Home and Your Mortgage
The Cormiers had initially been pre-approved for a mortgage from another lender.
But that lender rubbed Travis the wrong way. While he was shopping rates, he received phone call after phone call, email after email, from this lender. When he finally said, “Sure, let’s do it,” communication ceased. It became nearly impossible to get in touch with the broker.
“I’m like, ‘Dude, what happened to customer service?’” Travis says.
But then they realized Door, in addition to being a real estate agency, also offered mortgage services, and it was willing to match the Cormier’s existing rate. They jumped ship — and it paid off.
Securing a mortgage through Door streamlined the entire process, and the company, once again, proved it had the couple’s back.
As they were finalizing details, their Door mortgage agent, Emily Brown, eyed the Cormiers’ insurance rate. She thought it looked a little high, so she reached out to an insurance agent she’d worked with in the past.
Within an hour, she’d found a different insurance plan that would save them about $800 a year. She connected Travis to the appropriate party.
Settling Into Their First Home — Finally
Travis and Miryea can now melt butter evenly, thanks to their new gas stovetop.
“It was a long road to get here, but we are thrilled to be settling into our first home,” Miryea says. “As a young, newly married, millennial couple, we really did want a house to give our dogs a better life.”
Travis admits he and Miryea weren’t sold on Door at first. It’s a new business model that pays its agents a salary, not commission. It’s opposite of what exists in the already well-established real estate industry. They quickly learned, though, that was the company’s biggest perk.
“Your natural inclination is skepticism,” Travis says. “But now every time we have a friend who talks about buying a house, we encourage them to go through Door. And honestly, I feel bad for them if they don’t.”
The nearly 2,300-square-foot, newly renovated home is almost triple the size of what the couple is used to.
Its kitchen was the biggest selling point. It has brand new cabinets, a huge island, a double sink without a divider, double ovens and a skylight.
Because the couple saved money on closing costs, thanks to that Door rebate, they were able to invest in a new refrigerator/freezer and a washer/dryer.
There’s also a backyard for Anderson and Mozzie, who, with a dash of cinnamon, have stopped digging holes.
Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.