Building Generational Wealth Through Homeownership: Tanessa’s Story

Here at Trellis, we always advocate for building generational wealth through homeownership. Of course, generational wealth can include other assets that can be passed down to one’s children, such as cash or investments, but real estate is one of the most common ways and brings additional benefits, as well. Pride of ownership and a sense of belonging in one’s own neighborhood helps build strong and stable communities.

However, according to the Urban Institute, “wealth is not accruing equitably to Black homeowners due to a long history of structural barriers and added costs.” We here at Trellis are working to change that through financial and housing counseling, down payment assistance, and mortgage lending. Tanessa, one of our recent clients, was one such success story after working with Trellis for over two years before finally settling into her own home with her two young children, to whom she hopes to pass down the home as an investment in their futures.

Tanessa’s Homeownership Journey Begins with a Single Step

Tanessa was first referred to Trellis back in 2019 through her real estate agent, Carrie Painter, when she was first exploring the idea of buying a home after her rent continued to rise. “I’d been living in an apartment for quite a while, say a good four years and the rent was just too expensive,” she says. “When I moved in, rent was $997 and then they took it up to $1389 and then they dropped it down to like $1218 and like they took off $100, but what good is that?” Between rent, car payment, and basic living expenses, Tanessa found herself living paycheck to paycheck.

Upon referral to Trellis, she was first enrolled in our Homebuyer Education program and received financial counseling from Teresa Torres, Financial Capability & Program Coordinator here at Trellis, who was able to work with Tanessa to improve her credit, which was, according to Teresa, Tanessa’s biggest barrier to purchasing a home. Once she became mortgage ready, she was faced with another challenge, which was finding a property within her affordability and trying to secure a house before down payment assistance (DPA) funds were depleted. She was outbid on multiple offers, funds ran out, and Tanessa had to wait until the following funding year to proceed.

After a Year of Uncertainty… Home

The next year, it still took a while for Tanessa to find just the right home, as the real estate market had changed during the pandemic. “There were other offers I put in, but in today’s market it’s hard,” she says. “People from California were coming in and outbidding me on a whole lot of houses, but I was lucky that I found this one.” With an affordable home finally identified, Trellis lending officer Helga Galan worked to find her a loan, while Teresa was able to secure down payment assistance through the WISH program, and Maribell Valdez was able to secure additional funding through the City of Avondale’s First-Time Homebuyer DPA program, where Tanessa’s new home is located. A third DPA source was Trellis via funds received from US Bank. As a result of multiple DPA sources and a favorable interest rate, Tanessa’s monthly payment went from $1314/month for rent to $985 PITI in her new home, which she closed on in September of 2021. A condition of receiving the Avondale DPA is that she stay in her home for ten years so she doesn’t have to pay it back.

Home Sweet HOME

What does Tanessa like best about her new home? “The house is not big, just a two bedroom/one bath, but the thing is, I like it, it’s a nice little house and it’s remodeled inside and I just love it,” she says. Her favorite room is the kitchen. She loves everything about it, especially considering it had been recently remodeled by the previous owner and already had a full suite of appliances.

What really caught Tanessa’s eye, though, was the huge lot. “I want to build on so the kids can have a bigger home. I’d like maybe a 4 or 5 bedroom, but of course, they’re going to have to share it and I hope there’s no fighting!” she jokes. “As they get older, like when the house is paid off, it goes to my kids and they could rent it out or sell it, whatever they want to do.” For now, the house stands for something the family can invest in to secure their future. “After 10 years is up, I’ll try to pay off this house and keep it and then me and my kids will try and buy another house and hopefully pay that one off and keep that one and so on and so on, just keep going like that.” That’s the very definition of generational wealth!

A Message of Hope

Tanessa’s message of hope to potential homebuyers starting out in a similar situation? “Just don’t give up, don’t give up on your dreams, keep trying just like I did,” she says. “There were times that I wanted to give up, I wanted to give up so bad, but then I looked at my kids and I wanted to have something I could leave to my kids because I don’t want them grow up struggling and to depend on anyone. Just don’t give up.”

We asked Tanessa what does HOME mean to you? “It means we’re blessed to have a place to call home, and I’m thankful and very grateful to have a home for my family.” Tanessa is also grateful that Trellis was with her in every step of her homebuying journey. “They’re good with their clients, they help you, especially Miss Teresa, and they listen to you if you have questions, but most of all, they’re just nice people to work with,” she says.