Homeownership means freedom and independence for millennial women, but the process can be difficult and discouraging. That doesn’t mean homeownership isn’t attainable. It just means you need the right mindset and resources to achieve it.
On December 1st, Her Agenda partnered with Bank of America for a virtual event aimed at simplifying and demystifying the homeownership process for career-oriented, multicultural women.
The event was hosted by actress, digital personality, and newly licensed realtor Africa Miranda and featured a panel of homeowners who shared their journeys to inspire more women to make the leap.
It kicked off with an informational session on Bank of America’s Community Homeownership Commitment, presented by Kathy Cummings, Bank of America’s Senior Vice President, Home Loans Fair Lending/CRA Strategy and Strategic Executive, who also moderated the panel discussion that followed.
The panel featured Bank of America’s Senior Vice President, Community Banking Strategy Executive Shannah Stephens, entrepreneur Nailah Ellis, and real estate broker Egypt Sherrod.
“Real estate is the foundation of wealth and ownership is where it’s at,” Egypt said. “When people are armed with knowledge and they feel like [they] can do this, they have the courage to move forward.”
As we head into uncertain economic times with rising interest rates and inflation, many wonder if now is not the right time to buy. But if potential buyers take the right steps, they can find the power to change their lives for the better.
Here’s what our experts and panelists want you to know when considering buying your first home.
Homeownership Is About Freedom
Nailah shared that her journey had been centered around freedom. She started it when she was still working on her business, Ellis Island Tea, selling out of the trunk of her car on the streets of Detroit.
At the time, it was difficult for her to prove her income, so she had to purchase her first home with cash. It wasn’t until about a year ago that she got approved for her first mortgage after growing her company to become the largest black-owned beverage company and listing herself as a W2 employee.
“It just feels good, more than anything, to be a homeowner,” she said.
Her mortgage payment ended up being half of what her rent used to be. Because of homeownership, she ended up with more cash on hand to use or invest.
Homeownership Is About Growing Your Wealth
Egypt has been in the game for over 20 years. Before she was a homeowner, she was a real estate investor. She saw firsthand how homeowners were able to grow their wealth by buying and knew she had to get in on it.
“I was young, in my 20s. I didn't think that I needed to purchase a house of my own,” Egypt said.
But she figured it was better than spending $3,600 every month on rent.
Egypt ended up building $120,000 in equity on her first home, which was more than her salary. This inspired her to get her license and start encouraging others to invest in real estate.
Homeownership Is About Independence
Shannah’s journey to homeownership was one of empowerment. When she purchased her first home, she was a single woman, breaking the myth that you need to be in a committed relationship to be a homeowner. And it felt great.
“Not only did I own these four walls, but I did it on my own,” Shannah said.
Her first home wasn’t her dream home, but it was a great way to start building equity and investing in her future.
Is Now The Right Time to Buy?
The most common concern that’s holding people back from buying is the rise in interest rates. That’s understandable! Folks don’t want to bite off more than they can chew. But this panel wants everyone to know that if they don’t take the risk, they will regret it.
“If interest rates continue to climb, as some say they’re going to do, you’re going to wish for the opportunity to have gotten in now when interest rates are what they are,” Egypt said.
She also pointed out that if interest rates do fall, you could refinance your home.
Kathy said that homeownership offers more stability in the long run. “The most common regret [people have is they] didn’t do it sooner.”
She also pointed out that according to iProperty Management, average rent prices have increased 8.85% per year since 1980, outpacing wage inflation. If you continue to rent, you will lose money in the long run.
“If your options are renting versus buying, why would you not buy?” Nailah said.
What Resources Are Available?
If you feel like you’re ready to buy but are unsure about finances, Bank of America has programs in place to help relieve you of some burdens.
In April 2019, they introduced the Bank of America Community Homeownership Commitment®. Since then, the company granted nearly $10 billion in affordable lending to 38,000 homeowners, according to Kathy. It also provided $370 million in down payment and closing costs.
“We at Bank of America would love to assist you with your homebuying journey and make the connection for you,” Kathy said.
The journey to homeownership doesn’t need to be confusing. You just need to have the right mindset going into it and a willingness to use the resources around you to buy your first home and build toward your dream life.
[Editor's note: This article is sponsored by Bank of America as part of our series Property and Power: The Millennial Woman’s Guide To Homeownership — What Every Woman Needs On Her Agenda To Make Smart Decisions. Catch up on the full series here.]