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A lot of people have the dream of buying their own home. However, if you live in places like Los Angeles or New York City, it can feel like you might as well wait to win the lottery. This had been a dream of mine as well.
Too often I hear people tell their daughters, especially Latinas, “I hope you find the right partner that can provide for you.” We are taught to marry well and your husband will provide. My parents always encouraged me by advising me to, “Make sure you buy your home first, accomplish your dreams, and then think about settling down.” I feel fortunate that both my Dad and Mom taught me to take care of myself first. This is a common thing I hear many people tell their sons not their daughters.
I grew up in a poor neighborhood and my family did not have a lot of money. Both of my parents worked full time, sacrificed many dreams for my brother and I to have a better life.
So how was a girl like me able to purchase her first property at age 24? Well, there were several things going on at the time that helped me.
Yes, out of state. I know this sounds scary because you may not be familiar with the area, the right contractors, brokers, loan requirements, however, this is a way you can get your feet wet with a small investment. You can also consider the alternative.
If you want to buy, say in Los Angeles, you’re looking well into the mid-$300,000’s to $400,000 price range for a property. That means, coming up with a down payment between 10% to 20% and closing costs to be competitive. Also, don’t forget additional cash to do cosmetic updates or repairs, because it’s definitely not going to be a new property. To sum this all up, you will need at least $80,000, an excellent credit score, and a good job.
This is exactly why I purchased my first income property out of state. I ended up selling it and had enough for a down payment on a condo in short sale in Long Beach, California. I continued the cycle with foreclosures.
I worked many years as a property manager for some big real estate firms and I understood the hard work it takes to manage a property administratively and physically. Lucky enough, my partnership with the KC Commercial & Residential Management company has given me so many opportunities and a wonderful residual income. The best part is that they manage everything and all the headaches that I don’t want to deal with.
In the beginning, I mentioned how as Latinas are not always encouraged to make a life for ourselves, but to get married and our husbands will provide. This saying rings true, to this day, women are second-guessed in their finances and careers as if we weren’t capable of achieving anything on our own, without help from a spouse or family. This happened to me and often.
In my mid-20s I found it strange and offensive that I would constantly be asked, “Are you sure you can purchase without a husband/parents?” Yet, my male colleagues and friends who were the same age as me didn’t ever get asked these questions. It turns out, this is more prevalent than we think.
I still remember watching an episode of “Sex and the City” when Miranda the successful lawyer is getting ready to sign for her purchase for her condo and is pretty much asked the same questions it really became “Aha moment” for me maybe because they don’t see it happen as often or maybe because they underestimate us as women.
Just last week, I met a Doctor who has been practicing for over two decades, a Harvard graduate and a brilliant Latina, and owns multiple properties as well, is not immune either. She told me that when she visits her properties, her own tenants ask her, “Who’s the owner?” or “Can I speak to your husband?” or worse, “Are you the cleaning lady of the property?”
If someone hasn’t told you before, I want to be the one to encourage you to take care of yourself first. If I didn’t take the leap of faith, met the right people and have the right property management company, I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today. Being a property owner is a great way to start building wealth for you and your family. Use my experience as a guide to be savvy when investing and don’t let anyone deter you from your goals and dreams.
Stay tuned my next article, celebrating Financial Literacy Month. I’m collaborating with Martha Grace, a Latina Broker from KC Commercial & Residential Management for her expert tips on how to purchase property and how she became a multi-commercial property owner.