Buying a home and investing in real estate is one of the most powerful ways immigrants can build generational wealth in the U.S. Nurys Marcel Minaya, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, understood this after buying her first home when she was 23 years old using an FHA loan. It was the beginning of her journey as a homeowner that came with a sense of pride, status and stability.
Minaya is among the more than 8 million Hispanic new homeowners who have injected $371 billion into the national gross domestic product through the housing market, according to estimates from the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP). Even with language barriers and underrepresentation in the real estate industry, the number of Hispanics who are buying property continued to rise. In 2019, nearly half of the Hispanic population in the U.S. were home owners, NAHREP shows.
From immigrant to U.S. homeowner
Minaya’s immigrant story began when she came to the U.S. when she was 14 years old with her widowed mother and her younger brother. They lived together until her mother passed away due to illness when Minaya was 23.
Faced with grief and new responsibilities, and without much knowledge of home-buying, Minaya took a leap of faith and applied for her first-ever mortgage loan; she was soon surprised to find out that she had been approved for an FHA loan, designed for those who don’t have 20% to put down or wouldn’t qualify for conventional loans.
“I had no education, and many people tried to tell me it was a bad idea, that it was too risky,” Minaya says. “I began to doubt myself and I was afraid that they would be right.” Going against the naysayers and educating herself more, Minaya continued through the process and bought a two-family home in Patterson, New Jersey, as a first-time home owner and provider.
Minaya rented the two units and lived in the basement of the home, which allowed her to cover the expense of the mortgage and also have additional income. “I felt financially liberated,” she says. “Owning a multi-family home gave me financial freedom. The sacrifices that I made in the short term were worth it.”
After the experience of buying her first home, Minaya recognized the potential to earn money from rental properties. So after refinancing that first home, she was able to put down payments on two additional homes. She repeated this process with a third rental, and eventually bought a fifth and sixth home for use as rental properties.
Minaya says she learned so many things “on the job” and from trial and error. It was an experience that led her to become a licensed real estate salesperson. She is using her first-hand experience and knowledge to help others, especially in Hispanic and Latin-American neighborhoods like Patterson.
With maintaining her five rentals and remodeling her own house to make it the home of her dreams, Minaya is no stranger to rolling up her sleeves to give a property more value. She isn’t alone: In a survey of top-performing Hispanic real estate agents, 44.6% said that Hispanic homebuyers were more likely to buy a fixer-upper than non-Hispanics, suggesting that Hispanics often improve and invest in their properties once they make the purchase.
The next generation
Diego Corzo, a realtor and investor in Austin, Texas, who helps people find their dream home while also educating them on financial independence, says that he often reminds clients that home buying is a generational wealth-builder. “People should understand that when you are buying a home, you are buying something of value that tends to appreciate and that you can pass on to your children. I don’t think of it as ‘just a house.’ It’s an opportunity to generate income as well.”
Isela Felix, a real estate agent from Glendale, Arizona, says that she has met Hispanic families who have had properties passed down from two and three generations.
“The first generation took the leap of faith, worked hard and saved enough money for a down payment in the early 1980s in California,” Felix says, adding that the second and third generations found themselves with the advantage of taking over their parents’ properties and creating wealth while reinvesting in more real estate and managing multiple properties.
Hispanics are twice as likely than the general U.S. population to live in multigenerational households, providing them more ability to reduce living expenses and save money as they work together for greater financial security. Felix says that it’s important to do the research and find the right people and financial institutions that can help you. “Much of the information is available online, and lending agencies are willing to help make home ownership a reality.”
A lot goes into creating a plan, studying and taking action to buy your first home, including making sacrifices. Through her experience, Minaya says she learned that “you have to make those sacrifices early on when you can, and that starts with not allowing negative thoughts to hold you back from achieving your dreams.”
From Rocket Mortgage:
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