Hispanic homeowner in front of her new home

Hispanic homeowner follows a step-by-step plan to buy a house

By Julie Tramonte

April 2020

A national housing survey found 88% of Hispanics felt homeownership was a good long-term investment, with 92% reporting they planned to be homeowners1.

Jocelyn is living proof of those statistics – and she’s not the only one, with Hispanic homebuyers estimated to comprise 56% of all new homebuyers in the housing market by 2030.

Homeownership is the American dream for many Hispanic and Latino immigrants

At a young age, Jocelyn's parents instilled in her the belief that if you owned a home, you had achieved the American dream. That dream of homeownership carried a lot of weight for her Latino parents, who had immigrated from El Salvador in 1977.

Jocelyn turned the dream into an aggressive goal for herself: "My goal, as a U.S. citizen, was to graduate college and get a house before turning 30," says Jocelyn. "And, I wanted to do it on my own."

To accomplish this, the Los Angeles, California resident made a roadmap for herself. She saved, attended college and kept her student loan debt as low as possible – all without burdening her parents.

The power of hard work and planning

After she graduated, Jocelyn got a job as a loan officer assistant. It wasn't until she had worked in that role for 3 years that she fully understood what was needed to qualify for a mortgage. The light bulb went off when she realized, "I really could buy my own home someday."

That was when she got serious. Because California real estate is so expensive, Jocelyn got a second job. She earned her real estate license and worked part-time as an agent, determined to save all her commission checks for a down payment.

It took her 3 years to build her savings, pay off bills and get her debt-to-income (DTI) ratio low enough to qualify for a loan. (Many lenders don't want a borrower's debt to be greater than 45% of their gross income.) Once she achieved this, it was time to execute the next stage of her plan.

The old girl-meets-house, girl-loses-house, girl-gets-house-back story

Jocelyn searched for a house that was less than $300,000 – not an easy task in the Greater Los Angeles area. She looked at 16 homes before she found a 2-bed, 2.5-bath townhouse with a 2-car garage for $285,000. Even though it was perfect for her, she took the weekend to think it over before making an offer. Unfortunately, her hesitancy cost her. By Sunday night, the seller had already accepted an offer. Jocelyn was devastated.

"I felt so discouraged, I didn't know what to do," she admitted. "After all my hard work and determination, I couldn't believe I had missed out on this house. But I told myself what I tell all my buyers, 'If it's meant to be, it will be.'"

It must have been meant to be: Five days later, Jocelyn got an alert on her phone informing her the house was back on the market – for $7,000 less. Jocelyn immediately called the seller's agent, who told her the first buyer had backed out of the deal because his truck didn't fit in the garage. This time, Jocelyn didn't hesitate to offer the new asking price of $278,000.

Realizing her dream with the help of mortgage insurance

Jocelyn used conventional financing with private mortgage insurance, which allowed her to put down less than 20 percent. By saving diligently, she was able to make a five-percent down payment of $13,900. Her current monthly payment of $2,020 is exactly what she paid to rent her 1-bed, 1-bath, 640-sq.-ft apartment in downtown LA.

"This is the best investment I've ever made," says Jocelyn. "In the two years I've owned my home, its value has increased by almost 15%. It took a very long time, but I knew my plan would work eventually. And, I did it all on my own at age 28. My goal now is to help other Hispanic homebuyers realize the American dream of owning their own home."

1 According to Fannie Mae's 2018 National Housing Survey

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Julie Tramonte is a writer who joined MGIC in 2018. Prior to flying the coop, she wrote for a mattress company, a manufacturer and advertising agencies. She’s obsessed with reading, traveling, tennis and rearranging furniture. Mother of 2 beautiful, adult daughters. Empty nester who recently downsized. Her guilty pleasures are doughnuts and the Kardashians (don’t tell anyone).
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