I can’t say enough about Melissa Byrd… (A long story, but with a happy ending!) With our final set of orders in hand, we were headed to Pensacola, to purchase a forever home and conclude our military service here. With 4 kids under 12 it seemed an opportune time to establish a home where we could  settle and stay for a while (at least the kids were off to college.) I chose Service Matters after reading about their background, values, and excellent reviews. As a female who grew up in the south, I was wary of the cultural tendency to discount women when I started this process. I needn’t have worried as these guys are professionalism personified. Melissa in particular has been wonderful! She provided amazing support to our efforts to buy a home long-distance from Washington DC. Initially, my husband came down to Florida by himself and toured many, many homes searching for just the right piece of land in just the right school district with the right ‘feel’ to the area (the homes’ condition was less important, as you will see.) Melissa was enduringly patient and knowledgeable about all the different areas around Pensacola (positives and negatives), spending a whole day touring homes with him to ensure that they looked at each and every home that might meet his criteria. Several weeks later, when I came down to see houses myself, Melissa showed me the areas and homes that my hubby was particularly interested in (impressive that she could remember all the details). There was one particular home that my husband really wanted that had been off and on the market several times over the prior few months (so we knew there must be something majorly wrong with it.) Of course, that home was one my hubby wanted to see, but it was under contract yet again so they could only see it from the outside. When he got home to DC, he went on and on about the 4/2, 2500 sq ft house on a dead-end street with 2 acres…and how the neighborhood just ‘felt right’. So, with hubby clearly favoring homes that were traditionally unfinanceable (and sometimes downright scary), I researched and found the FHA 203k program, which is designed for properties requiring renovation before financing is possible. The 203k program folds the cost of the purchase and renovations into one mortgage and offers 2 levels: streamlined, that allows for up to $35,000 in cosmetic renovations; or full, that allows for more extensive repairs. By the time I got to Florida to look at homes, the reigning ‘favorite’ home had been in and out of contract again since my hubby had ‘seen’ it, so I asked if Melissa could get me a viewing of the home ‘just in case’ it came back on the market. She worked her magic and we went for a tour. From the moment we walked in, Melissa and I both felt this would be a great home for my family – 4 little boys and a fur baby. However, it was already under contract again. I thought we were out of luck, but Melissa suggested we put in a back-up offer, explaining that (after execution) our contract would activate immediately if/when the current contract was to fall through. Knowing the history of the property, I thought it was worth a try. There was some back and forth on the contract negotiations, and Melissa represented our interests flawlessly. Melissa had never heard of the FHA 203k program but she proactively educated herself to provide the best service possible and she also used her extensive connections to find (what appears to be) the only 203k finance specialist in Pensacola to help us through the money side of the process. Lo and behold, the seller accepted our back up contract and we eventually got the house. Of course, the home needed extensive work: complete renovation of the pool; in the house we had to do a complete rewiring (to replace the aluminum); plumbing work (to replace illegal polybutylene pipes in the attic); transition from septic tank to sewer; some broken windows; some termite damage; and other random repair and cosmetic items. At closing, there was some drama from the seller’s side. However, I was so confident in my realtor’s abilities to resolve the issues I wasn’t stressed about it. Melissa and the Service Matters staff handled the situation with absolute professionalism and courtesy and pulled off a successful closing on time. So, we purchased our forever home at a good price and, despite having $100,000 in renovations (paid for by the 203k program), the post-construction appraisal still shows us with equity on day 1 of residency with an almost-new house with new wiring; new plumbing; new sewer hook-up; new installation of natural gas and associated appliances; and all new interior walls, ceilings, and floors. We couldn’t have done any of it without Melissa…when these guys say Service Matters, they mean it!