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Purchasing a Starter Home


Zachery H. and Lauren C. | Elizabethtown, North Carolina | First-time Homebuyers

Elizabethtown is a small and charming southern town in eastern North Carolina with about 4,000 year-round residents. Its residential streets are shaded by large trees. The historic downtown features trendy restaurants and bars.

It’s a place near and dear to the hearts of Zach Hursey and his fiancée Lauren Cribb. The couple bought a house in Elizabethtown together and plans to marry in the fall 2020. They wanted to be settled in their first home-of-their-own before the wedding. “We really like the small town feel,” Hursey says.

Coming Home

Zach joined the North Carolina Army National Guard in 2011, when he was 19. He went to basic training in 2012, and started as an E-1 Private. Within a year, he was an E-4 Specialist. In 2015, he deployed to Kosovo as part of KFOR 20. “When I got back from Kosovo, I was promoted to an E-5 Specialist. From there, I served another year and then transitioned out of the National Guard in 2017 — receiving an honorable discharge from the Army in 2019,” says Hursey.

He and Lauren knew they wanted to buy their first home together in Elizabethtown. Zach grew up in a town nearby, and Lauren grew up in the neighboring county. “We thought this would be a great place to live as we both further our careers, and so we started looking for a starter home,” he says.

They met with a local real estate agent, who was experienced in working with first-time homebuyers. Clark suggested Zach and Lauren get in touch with Scott Betz, a Military Mortgage Advisor based in Wilmington, North Carolina with AAFMAA Mortgage Services LLC (AMS).

“Our real estate agent had heard Scott speak at a conference and was very impressed with his approach to customer service,” says Hursey.

Using the VA Home Loan benefit

Hursey, who recently became an AAFMAA Member, talked to several lenders before giving Betz a call.

He immediately realized the reputation for great customer service was true. Betz worked with the young couple, over the phone and email, answering their questions about the home-buying process and VA Loans in particular. “I appreciated Scott’s patience with us.

They wanted to live near downtown and kept their eyes open for new properties coming onto the market. They lucked out when an all-brick 1,500-sq.-ft., two-story home came on the market with everything they were looking for in terms of location, size, and amenities. “Lauren immediately loved the character of the house, the cottage look, and the large yard,” says Hursey. Plus, the owner priced it to sell.

“It was really a great find. Other homes in that area cost more than twice what they paid” says Betz.

Hursey’s VA Home Loan carries an interest rate of 3.65%. Underwriting went smoothly and they closed on the home in late April 2020.

“The entire process from when I first called Scott to when we met to sign the final paperwork was really seamless,” says Hursey. “I can’t say enough about how great Scott was to work with in helping us buy our first home.”

Location, Location, Location

For Zach and Lauren, the homecoming is sweet indeed. Both work locally and they have friends and family spread throughout the area.

“Elizabethtown is a great location for us,” says Hursey. “We definitely plan to stay here for a while, and we are so proud to finally be homeowners in the town we’ve always wanted to live in.”

Please note: The borrower story above is an actual customer's experience working with AAFMAA Mortgage Services LLC (AMS). Your actual loan experience may differ, and all loans are subject to credit approval and interest rates, terms, and fees will vary based on your credit, state, and type of loan. Please check with us for details.

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