In about six weeks or so, Derek Slocum and his wife Tuconya will move into a home in Lanham that's something of a mystery to them.
They've seen it from the outside but never been inside.
That's because the house is in the middle of being retrofitted to be energy efficient and prospective buyers weren't allowed inside.
Still, the Slocums consider themselves blessed to be the winners of the Prince George's County Department of Housing and Community Development's [DHCD] first "House Lottery."
Two weeks ago Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III pulled Derek Slocum's name from a raffle barrel during a housing fair. The lottery was part of DHCD's "Welcome Home! Achieve and Protect Your Dream" housing fair held on June 9 in Landover as a way to attract people to the event.
The Lanham home is a four-bedroom, two-bath split level home on a corner lot currently worth $260,000. Through the special lottery program, the couple will be able to purchase the home for $190,000 and take ownership of the house in about six weeks.
"We are so pleased to award this home to a deserving family at such a substantially reduced price," said Eric Brown, Prince George's County director of Housing and Community Development.
"The home is a Green Energy Star 3 home which means it is designed to help the homeowners save money on utility bills and protect the environment through improved building and energy performance. Under the Energy Star 3 standard, windows, doors and appliances must meet a certain level of energy efficiency and the house must be properly air-sealed and insulated to prevent heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. The utility cost on this Green Energy Star 3 home is expected to be less than $200 per month for a family of four."
Applicants for the lottery had to be pre-qualified to enter the drawing. They also had to be first-time home buyers and qualify for a mortgage of $190,000.
"Wow! What a blessing," said Derek Slocum, 49, a funeral director at Marshall-March Funeral Home in Suitland. "Homeownership is the backbone of our county's economy. Prince George's County is a great place to live and we will continue to support and promote resources for current and future homeowners to build their dreams and raise their families in our amazing neighborhoods and communities."
The Slocums have five adult children and five grandchildren, but only one child lives at home with them along with Derek's 70-year-old mother. The family of four has been living in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home in Southeast that has been in Slocum's family for more than 40 years. In fact, he grew up in the home, which they plan to keep in the family.
While they needed more space for the three generations, they were in no rush to buy and have been looking at homes from "Chesapeake Beach to the serenity of Dover, Del.," Derek Slocum said.
Slocum said the abundance of properties for sale added to their difficulty in making a decision about which one to purchase.
"This home had to be picked by God," said Derek Slocum.
He said that after learning about the lottery through his church, his wife encouraged him to apply. She told him she had a good feeling about the lottery – so much so that she started packing weeks before the drawing, he said.
Derek Slocum said he's excited to own a home with so many green features.
"This is all brand new to me," he said. "I haven't had the privilege of owning a home fitted with this sort of technology."