By Tatyana Bellamy – Walker, Special to Workers World Today
For Caribbean-immigrant households, buying their first home can be the pathway to stability.
Many Caribbean immigrants first came to the United States during the early 1900s, bought brownstones in largely white neighborhoods in Harlem and Brooklyn, then anchored dozens of generations. According to a report by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), nearly 31 percent or 3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States own homes.
Like the more than 2.2 million Guyanese and Trinidadian populations still thriving in parts of New York City, with the highest number of Caribbean immigrants hailing from Queens, before buying your first home, there are some steps to take to ensure financial stability. Some of the most successful real estate moguls are people of color such as NBA basketball legend turned philanthropist, Magic Johnson, and NFL Hall of Famer, Emmitt Smith.
Real estate experts advise homebuyers to first determine if they’re ready to buy a home. Do you have enough money for a down payment? Can you afford the monthly mortgage payments? How much are your debts? What is your credit score? And can you fix your own leaks?
The difference between renters and buyers sometimes lies in the responsibility to solve their own issues. It might be a good idea to list the risks associated with buying a home, especially one that is older such as toxic mold, asbestos, and roofing issues. Buying a home is a long-term financial investment. How a prospective buyer maneuvers these issues can ultimately impact the worth of the property.
Before buying a property research your mortgage options. According to the Home Buying Institute, there are fixed-rate mortgage loans, which have the same payment for the entire term and adjustable-rate mortgages, which have an interest rate that changes from time to time. Experts at the Home Buying Institute recommend using fixed-loans for a longer stay, while an adjustable rate is more often used for short-term housing.
The neighborhood of a prospective property can also make or break the value of a home. Homes with higher property value often have quality schools, lower crime rates as well as a nearby park. While affordable neighborhoods in New York City are often hard to find, there are a couple that are perfect for a first-time home buyer. In Brooklyn, Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, and Kensington there are safe, affordable and family-friendly areas. Whereas in Manhattan, the Lower East Side is sometimes the pick for young professionals who want a place booming with contemporary shops and culture.
In addition, schedule time to go to an open house where you can assess the property, see your potential neighbors and ask questions. Also, feel free to negotiate the price, but avoid a bidding war. It’s important to maintain a budget and compromise only when necessary. If a home has been on the market for a long time and the seller is not budging — experts recommend using a more creative approach. Can they make repairs before closing? Can you keep the washer machine and dryer? Developing a knack for real estate means thinking of ways to keep a competitive edge in the industry and remaining savvy. A dream home is not easy to come by, but it can be attainable through the right steps.
The Workers World Today is a free publication that empowers all workers, regardless of their social or political affiliations. Distributed throughout New York City, our paper has a mission to educate workers and provide them with relevant information pertinent to the workforce such as workers’ compensation, discrimination on the job, workers’ rights, and more.