Specializing in First-Time Homebuyers With Mortgage Loan Officer Lakisha Russell-Coleman

March 26, 2019

Nearly four years ago when mortgage loan officer Lakisha Russell-Coleman was moving on from a Texas-based job and returning to her native Louisiana, she knew she wanted to take a position assisting first-time homebuyers.

Russell-Coleman, who has worked as a loan officer for 15 years, knew her first manager had recently kicked off a mortgage business at a respected Shreveport bank. She contacted him and said she’d join the company if he was willing to start working with the Louisiana Housing Corporation’s first-time homebuyer programs.

“He signed up with the Louisiana Housing Corporation, and I came right over here to work,” she says.

Today Russell-Coleman remains with the company, Home Federal Bank in Shreveport, specializing in first-time homebuyers and regularly helping them access down-payment assistance through the LHC. She also hosts educational seminars for first-time homebuyers.

Russell-Coleman will share her insights into the first-time homebuyer programs during a panel at the inaugural Connections conference, hosted by the Louisiana Housing Corporation in April.

She recently took a moment to talk with us about her career and how she helps new homebuyers achieve their dream. Read highlights of the conversation below.

 Why was an affiliation with the LHC important when you were considering your next career step?

I’m able to assist people who may not have all of the money for the down payment, so I’m able to help buyers that other banks can’t help. I believe that just because someone doesn’t have the money for a down payment doesn’t always mean they don’t deserve to buy a house. That’s always been my motto. I felt strongly that anywhere I went needed to have down-payment assistance — because I would know that I would be serving everybody I could serve.

Do you see a strong demand for these down-payment assistance programs?

It’s huge, because there are only a couple of us working with these assistance programs in the whole state of Louisiana. There are other banks that don’t participate, so that means there are a lot of people who can’t buy a house and are turned down that don’t know about these programs.

How do you help connect homebuyers with the down-payment assistance?

Every application that I take, I always look for an opportunity to see if they qualify. If they qualify, I present it — if they have the money in the bank or not. I look at everybody as an opportunity to give them these funds if they need it. The majority of my clients are very grateful. They are so happy when we get to the closing table.

Are there any misconceptions about these programs?

People need to think positively about down-payment programs. A lot of times it comes with a negative connotation that it’s only about people who have really low incomes, and that’s not the case. It’s not just for low- to moderate-income buyers. My clients are everyone from teachers, police officers, firefighters, school board employees, casino workers.They are 95-percent first-time homebuyers whom I have to teach the homebuying process.

What’s your favorite moment in the homebuying process?

When the clients get their keys and they’re just overwhelmed with joy. That’s the best moment.

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