Rebuilding her life in a house that is her “castle”
Keya Banks said her family and friends thought she was off her rocker when she decided to purchase a vacant home in Harvey, a town that’s known for depressed home values. But when Keya saw her home, she had a vision.
“When I saw this house, I said this is it. This is a castle for a queen,” said Banks, who had previously rented a condo in Oak Forest after going through a divorce. “I decided that I didn’t need to be defined by my zip code. The house itself was beautiful. I wanted something that I could afford, whether I was working or not.”
Banks, a human resource manager, purchased the home from the Cook County Land Bank Authority on Aug. 1, 2017 with $15,000 in cash through the Land Bank’s Homebuyer Direct Program. Through this program, the Land Bank sells vacant homes to homebuyers at below-market rates, as long as they rehab the property and then live in the home. At the time of purchase, Keya’s home was valued at $23,000, according to the Land Bank.
Bank spent about $50,000 of her own money rehabbing her home, including replacing all of the dry wall in the house, renovating her kitchen and bathrooms and turning her bedroom into a master suite. She is now in the process of renovating a room that will be her office. The Land Bank estimates that Banks’ house is now valued at $75,000 post rehab.
Banks and her 19-year-old son moved into their new home in December 2017 and have already created many wonderful memories, including singing karaoke on Christmas.
“When I’m here, I’m home,” Banks said. Her vision includes not only a renovated home for herself but an improved community.
Said Banks: “My goal is to fix my house and then help fix my community.”
HOW THE HOMEBUYER DIRECT PROGRAM HELPED KEYA BANKS:
Enabled her to buy a home that she can afford, whether she works or not.
Gained immediate equity of $8,000 in her home at time of purchase.
Post-rehab, Banks increased the economic value of her home by $52,000.