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AJI Cares - Paying it Forward

Allison James Estates & Homes agent Sandra Nomer is assisting a struggling couple into securing a home of their own.


Sandra Nomer, a Real Estate agent with Allison James based in Placerville, CA., always tries her best to go above and beyond when finding a new home for any of her clients. Her two latest clients, Suzanne Bilger and Brian McGregor, shows just how far Nomer will go to help those in need.

Nomer first met Sue and her son Brian 15 years ago, when she was referred to McGregor by a friend who said he could help her with landscaping on a property she was renovating. They both function with a mild disability stemming from a rough upbringing early on in their lives. As a result, the two have been living on the streets in El Dorado County shuffling their belongings along wherever their lives take them while sleeping in their cars.

McGregor has been able to make some money here and there working on cars, trucks and small engines, as well as some odd jobs with manual labor. The manual labor has stopped in the recent years after McGregor was diagnosed with emphysema, forcing him to quit smoking cigarettes.

As a result, Nomer has been hiring McGregor on and off since she first met him, having him help her with anything she may need when remodeling a house. The relationship soon grew symbiotic as Nomer started getting to know the two on a more personal level.

“Whenever I had a home I was remodeling, I would let them park their cars there and they would guard the place and the tools,” Nomer said. “The workers could come and go. We didn’t have to pick everything up everyday.”

Nomer moved the couple around to 7 to 8 homes and even suggested to clients of her’s that were remodeling their own homes to let Bilger and Mcgregor park their cars overnight, just so the two were off the streets, even if they were still sleeping in their cars.

As the years went on, Nomer grew more and more attached to the couple, as she could see past Bilger’s knee-high combat boots which she wore daily, and McGregor’s greasy, unkempt look, attributed to the work he did. At some point, Nomer knew she had to help the two find their way into a home, or at least enact some form of stability in their lives.

Nomer began looking into subsidized housing, and since Bilger was receiving disability payments, she was able to get into a subsidized apartment for a while. However, due to her past, Bilger had a problem dealing with the noises that come with living in an apartment.

“They’ve been living on the street for so long, that when we got them into subsidized apartments, they generally had a whole lot of havoc with other, lower income families living there,” Nomer explained. “With the loud noises and people screaming and playing loud music, she just couldn’t hack it — she just fled back to the streets every time.”


A stroke of luck came towards Sue and Brian two years ago when a friend of Nomer’s met them and felt the same compassion Nomer felt. The friend, Claudia, a representative with Wells Fargo, helped Bilger set up a bank account and moved her into a motel room the county had been subsidizing. It was the first successful place Bilger had in some years.

Together, McGregor and Bilger can figure things out. That’s the way it had been for the longest time. They both agreed that if they could find a piece of land to stow their belongings, they could eventually save enough money to afford a home of their own. The pair had been funnelling money from their joint disability checks into a storage unit where they kept everything they owned. The unit, which added a $600 a month expense for them, was the largest financial burden for the couple.

Nomer had been using her real estate background to look for lots the two could afford. But with a lack of down payment, Nomer was lacking the proper motivation to really intensify the search and find something quickly.

Six months ago, out of the blue, Bilger received a small inheritance bequeathed from an aunt she hadn’t seen in years. The sum, around $80,000, was enough to make an immediate impact on their lives, but not without a cost. Bilger was taken off disability since she now had a sizeable savings in her bank account.

This was the spark Nomer needed to ramp up her search, and with the support of two other agents, they began searching for a lot that would suit the pair. The two didn’t need anything special, as Nomer stated. The difficulty with the search was the lot still had to be within the city limits, as both own rather fuel inefficient vehicles.

“When you find cheap property, it’s further out,” Nomer said. “I had to get them closer in to town and I couldn’t get them in a mobile home park or any kind of close neighborhood because of their appearance and lifestyle.”

With the threat of the two burning through the inheritance on living expenses, Nomer had finally found the perfect lot for them. On a steep hillside, far from any neighbors, sat 20 acres that had been listed for four years with not one inquiry. The seller had paid around $180,000 for the land and was looking for half of that for it all.

The owner had cut a little pad into the hill and had a trailer sitting on the property. It was just what the two needed. Nomer had envisioned a single wide trailer that would sit on the property, shielded from any outside contact due to the steep grade and billowing trees.

Again, Nomer had used her extensive contacts to recruit a contractor friend of hers who would help with the necessary work, such as clearing a part of the land and installing septic, of which they will use Nomer’s personal backhoe. The contractor fell in love with the land and offered to go in on the investment with the pair. What he lacked was the downpayment, which Bilger happened to have. They put in the offer with a down payment of $30,000 and the owner agreed to let them put two containers on the property, which they purchased with a part of the inheritance. The contractor was put on the title as a 50% owner, and took over the property payments as a return for the down payment Bilger put down. With that, the couple could put all the money they earn solely into the property.

Nomer sourced two mobile homes for sale around $4,500 that they could put on the property after they finish with the renovations and proper permitting processes.

“We’re going to need roughly $15,000 to get through the fees with the county and a few other things like that,” Nomer said. “We can literally get these people set up.”

Currently, Bilger and McGregor park their cars in the driveway of one of the homes Nomer is renovating. McGregor helps her with weeding and has been referred to some of the other other agents in the area for odd jobs as well. They can’t live on the property quite yet, since the county won’t technically let people just camp out on the land.

“I have to make this completely legal so no one can run them off for any reason,” Nomer said.

Jessica Crumbaugh, the Vice President of Allison James, had the idea of creating a GoFundMe account for the couple to crowdsource some additional funds to help Sue and Brian finish the final steps of the project, and for once have a safe place to call their home