Rafael and Maria first tried to buy a home nearly 10 years ago. They’d been pre-approved by a bank for a mortgage loan, but then the recession hit.
Rafael was working in construction at the time and his once-steady income dropped quickly and dramatically. They could no longer afford to buy and would have to continue renting an apartment for what felt like a very long time. As the economy improved, Rafael found steady work again and, slowly but surely, they got back on their feet.
In early 2015, they felt the time was right to take another look at buying a home, and came to Homewise upon the recommendation of a friend. They heard that Homewise had a special homebuyer program for immigrants with an ITIN number instead of a Social Security number. They’d been told by other banks and lenders that they couldn’t get a mortgage without a Social Security number and were excited to hear that Homewise might be able to help them.
After meeting with a Homewise Home Purchase Advisor, they knew they had some work to do on savings and budgeting. Rafael remembers, “Sometimes it was hard and we felt like we were giving up things we wanted, but we stayed focused on our goal.” By Christmas they would have that home and celebrate together with their whole family for the first time in a home of their own.
Their pride of ownership is obvious. Rafael has already remodeled the dining room and bathroom, and his next project is to paint the outside and put up a new fence. Perhaps most importantly, his first home improvement was to build an entire room of shelves in the basement for Maria’s shoe collection. Maria is an avid shoe lover and was excited to show us her collection of dressy heels and boots, but it’s the dancing shoes she loves best. Maria and Rafael love to dance and go out as often as they can to a local night club where he used to work on the janitorial crew.
These days, while they still enjoy dancing, their greatest love is spending time with their two grandchildren who also live in the home along with their two daughters. One of the best parts of owning a home is finally having space for their family to be together. “On the weekends I make tamales for the whole family. Everyone comes over, my sisters, cousins, and we have room for them all.” Maria’s love for her family time is obvious and this year she finally had the space to host her grandson’s birthday party at home, “Exactly where I’d always wanted it to be.”
Rafael is a big believer in the power of Homewise’s Homebuyer Education workshop and credits much of what he learned there to becoming a successful homeowner. “In the workshop, we learned about making extra payments on our mortgage to reduce the length of our loan. We have a 30-year mortgage but have a plan to pay it off in 15!” he said excitedly. And if he could give one piece of advice to anyone considering buying a home? “Go to Homewise,” he says. “The classes alone are so informative and help you really understand and be prepared for homeownership. After our first experience trying to buy a home, we thought it was impossible for us. Now here we are, loving our home and everything it means to our family.”