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How a 23-Year-Old DACA Student Became a CA Homeowner

How a 23-Year-Old DACA Student Became a CA Homeowner

Imagine finishing a long day at work, heading home, and then spending 30 minutes searching for parking. After finally finding a spot, you walk home, only to remember you need to pick up something from the store. You then spend several minutes debating whether it's worth giving up your hard-won parking space and having to search for another spot when you return. This scenario is the reality for many Americans who rent in areas with insufficient parking, like Jaqueline Martinez and her family in Southern California.

Inconveniences like parking take a back seat when tackling bigger renter challenges, such as the owner selling the home you are currently renting. When Jaqueline and her family found themselves in this situation, they knew there was no better time than the present to seek the stability and investment of owning their own home.



Jaqueline's dad, Jose Martinez, came to America with hopes and dreams of a better future for his children. Jaqueline (23), a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, worked hard and became the first in her family to graduate college with a bachelor's degree in health science. She currently works as a front-desk receptionist at a radiology office. Her brother, Juan Carlos (21), a U.S. citizen, is also extremely hardworking and employed as a load operator.

Despite their achievements, they were still determining the path to homeownership, as Jose Martinez believed that an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) loan was their only option.

Eva Melgarejo, their New American Funding Loan Officer, shares the incredible story of what happened next. Mr. Martinez came with his two children to her kitchen table, looking to see if he could buy a home with his ITIN. ITIN loans require a 15% down payment versus a 3.5% down payment on a Federal Housing Administration loan.

Eva explains that when a Loan Officer hears "ITIN," the next question is typically about savings. During her prequalification process, she takes the time to understand the family's dynamics and goals. She establishes common ground by allowing them to share their background, such as when she learned Jose is from Guanajuato, like her stepdad. This shared connection helps build trust. Despite Jose's concerns about his daughter's DACA status and his son's recent truck purchase, Eva was able to pre-qualify Jaqueline and Juan Carlos for an FHA loan after an hour and a half, giving them more flexibility on the credit liabilities.

Eva's dedication led to securing a non-repayable $25,000 grant from the city of Long Beach, CA. This grant helped the Martinez family achieve their dream of homeownership with just $7,871.02 out of pocket. In contrast, an ITIN loan for the same $590,000 house would have required a total of $116,050 (including a 15% down payment, 4.5% closing costs, and $1,000 for inspections). Eva was motivated to go the extra mile for this family because they reminded her of her own.

Jaqueline is the pillar of this family, and she was Eva's go-to for the transaction. Thanks to her relentless determination, patience, and willingness to thrive, this family has a home.

Jaqueline reflects on the experience: "It's pretty exciting. I feel like it's something that we always talked about, something we always wanted. Who doesn't want their own home? It's way better than renting."



While Jaqueline's story might seem exceptional, data shows it's part of a larger trend.

  • Hispanic Homeownership Growth: Latinos are the only demographic with nearly a decade of steady homeownership growth. In 2022, the Hispanic homeownership rate reached 48.6%, adding 349,000 new homeowner households, one of the largest gains in ten years. By 2023, this rate rose to 49.5%, despite challenges like rising interest rates and low housing inventory (NAHREP). Hispanics added 377,000 owner-households, the largest single-year gain since 2005 (Home).
  • Young Homebuyers: Hispanic homebuyers tend to be younger than their non-Hispanic counterparts. In 2022, about 40% of Hispanic homebuyers were under 35, compared to 36% of non-Hispanics. Additionally, 33% were between 25 and 34 (Chicago Agent Magazine).
  • Future Projections: By 2040, 70% of new homebuyers are projected to be Hispanic, underscoring this demographic's growing influence in the housing market (Chicago Agent Magazine).

Jaqueline reflects, "I feel like, as immigrants, many people hold off on things because they think they won't be able to do it, but I think it's possible. You just have to try."

When asked about her unique approach, Eva explained: "As loan officers, we are financial experts tasked with educating and structuring plans for homeownership. Whether it takes two months or two years, our commitment is to help our borrowers."

Eva advises loan officers to understand the family structure genuinely. "Every decision impacts the whole family, especially in collectivistic cultures. It's crucial to understand this to facilitate the buying process."

When asked what she was most excited about in her new home, Jaqueline said, "Hosting family, decorating how we want, and, of course, having our own driveway so we don't have to struggle with parking anymore!"



NAF's Latino Focus and Impact on the Hispanic Community

New American Funding (NAF) is committed to empowering the Hispanic community through various initiatives and programs. The Latino Focus initiative aims to address Hispanic homebuyers' unique challenges and provide them with the resources needed to achieve homeownership. This includes:

  • Roundtable Series and Roadshow Events: Latino Focus hosts roundtable discussions and roadshow events like Adelante, dedicated to enhancing financial awareness and homebuyer readiness for the Hispanic community and our real estate partners.
  • NAFTALKS Series: This series offers product and innovation training for loan officers to better empower underrepresented communities. Topics covered include UQUAL, Non-QM, VA loans, NAF Pathway, and ITIN loans.
  • Consumer Homebuyer Readiness: The "Homebuyer Blueprint" program, available in both English and Spanish, provides homebuyer readiness sessions to prepare potential buyers for the homebuying process.

“New American Funding is leading the industry with its commitment to educational resources and strong community connections,” says Caroline Isern, SVP of Multi-Cultural Lending. “By implementing proactive market engagement strategies, we not only address the needs of our underrepresented communities but also lay a foundation for future generations to succeed.”

These efforts are part of NAF's commitment to making homeownership accessible and achievable for all, particularly within the Hispanic community.

What steps will you take to turn your homeownership dreams into reality? Contact New American Funding today to get started on your journey.



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