How 3 First-Generation Latino Homeowners Bought a Home

Overall, Latino homeownership is on the rise

Custom illustration showing an older Latino woman speaking with an interviewer

The Balance / Julie Bang

Becoming a homeowner has often been equated with achieving the ‘American Dream,’ especially among first-generation citizens. For Latino Americans, the good news is that more are making that dream come true than ever before.

Latino homeownership is in fact on the rise. A study by the Urban Institute estimates that Latino buyers will comprise 70% of homeownership growth during the 2020 through 2040 period.

However, the path to homeownership isn’t always a smooth one. Latino homebuyers are more likely to use risky financing than other homebuyers to secure a home, one study found. For others who might have less-than-stellar credit or are lacking in savings, it can take years of planning and sacrifice to be approved using more traditional routes.

The Balance spoke with three Latino first-generation homeowners about their personal experiences with buying a home in America. Here are their stories.

Sully Montero: Providing a Place of Pride for Her Kids

​​When Sullienid “Sully” Montero purchased her first home with her husband in May of 2019 in Trenton, New Jersey, she felt as if they’d “made it.”

“I'm proud of the fact that when my kids are older, they can invite their friends over and not feel embarrassed or ashamed of their home, as was my experience,” she told The Balance in an email. 

Growing up, Montero, who is of Puerto Rican descent, said she lived in a small one-bedroom apartment. “Now, my kids all have their own rooms. That was something I dreamed of when I was their age.” 

Both Montero’s and her husband’s families (also from Puerto Rico) originally came to the states for better schooling opportunities. Today, Montero is a teacher and travel blogger, and her husband is a corporate chef. “We were only able to buy a home after we were married because we had to combine our income. We couldn't get approved for a home loan on our own,” she said. They also struggled to save up as much as they wanted, so they applied for an FHA loan, which allowed them to buy with a smaller down payment


There are different types of mortgages to meet a variety of financial situations, from government loans to nontraditional mortgages. Be sure to ask your lender about which options are best for you.

All the while, the couple had their families in their corner. “They helped when we needed it (providing additional funds or documentation), and they were our biggest cheerleaders,” she said. “Our family in Puerto Rico lives in rural communities, so to them, our house is a symbol of status. To us, it's a place for us to raise our children.” 

Besides familial support, Sully is also grateful that her realtor was extra attentive and helpful as they went through the process for the first time. Still, she was surprised by all of the paperwork and headaches the mortgage process involves. “Have all of your paperwork ready before you put an offer in on a house,” Montero said. “That way, when the right one comes along the last hurdle isn't such a mountain to climb.”

Basiliso Moreno: A New State, a New Beginning

Basiliso Moreno’s parents were both born and raised in Puerto Rico, and moved to the mainland U.S. in the 1960s. He grew up in a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx before becoming a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), small business owner, and published poet. Eventually, he added husband, father, and homeowner to his list of titles.

“My homebuying journey actually began around 2016 when I went to a homebuying seminar in Harlem and began learning what I would need when the time came to purchase a home,” said Moreno in an email interview with The Balance. But it took a few years more until that dream would actually come to fruition.

He and his wife had their sights set on leaving New York and moving to Delaware and buying a home together in 2020, but then the pandemic hit. Tragically, Moreno’s mother passed from the virus, and he contemplated pushing back their potential move date to 2021. 

Instead, his wife’s older brother convinced them to stay with them in Delaware until they could find and close on a home. “The plan was in full motion. My wife and two kids went ahead to Delaware while I began my job search to find a job in Delaware while working in NYC. I found a job and moved to Delaware in October 2020,” said Moreno. 

Once there, he and his wife found a realtor to help them with house hunting. “Our realtor Desi was great and made sure we were finding homes we could actually afford,” he said. But because Delaware is a hot market, they soon realized they needed to move fast. “My wife would go to open houses and make a bid and someone outbid us. Or we would go to an open house and that house would be under contract,” he said. 

After some stops and starts, they found a home, made an offer, and it was accepted. At the age of 42, Moreno became a homeowner. “I take pride in the fact that despite losing social work clients and my mom from Covid, I still had the self-awareness and strength to achieve my goal of homeownership in February 2021,” he said. Later that year, he even decided to bring his dad to live in the home with them.


One-quarter of Hispanic buyers purchase a home that can accommodate an extended family member living with them full time.

Fernando Caro: From Lifelong Renter to Unexpected Homeowner

It took Fernando Caro more than a half century, but at age 52, he purchased his first home in Port Charlotte, FL. And he didn’t even have to move. 

“I wanted to buy a home for a long time, but because of things like my credit, I wasn’t ready to get a loan,” said Fernando in an email interview with The Balance. “All of a sudden, the owner of the house I was renting for eight or nine years decided to sell.” 

Though he was caught off guard, it ended up being a blessing. He had to decide if he would look for a new place to rent or if it was finally the time to buy. He just wasn’t sure that he would meet the requirements for a mortgage.

He set up a meeting with a mortgage broker and that’s when everything fell into place. “He said ‘I can help you.’ So, I followed his instructions and two months later, I purchased the house I had been renting,” said Caro.

While he had some money saved, Caro said he wasn’t expecting to buy a home any time soon. “My mom and dad helped me out a little bit. My wife had some savings. I sold my drums and instruments, too,” said Caro. The broker also helped him leverage a first-time homebuyer down payment assistance program.

“I took a Fannie Mae training program. It takes about three hours. It explained the process from zero until you get the keys to the house. At the end you need to pass a test, and I passed. You even get a diploma!” said Caro. 


More than one-third of Hispanic borrowers reported using at least one form of alternative financing—which tend to have weaker consumer protections and less regulatory oversight—compared with 23% of non-Hispanic Black borrowers and 19% of non-Hispanic White borrowers. If you don’t meet traditional mortgage standards, speak with a mortgage professional or lenders to see if you qualify for any special first-time homebuyer programs.

Even though he technically never moved, going from renter to owner has been life changing. “Back when I was renting, I wanted to put something in the lanai and the owner said ‘no.’ I said I want to paint this, and he said ‘no.’ It was always ‘no,’” said Caro. “Now, I can do what I want. We took out the carpet. I did the tile myself. I painted the whole house, new lights, new kitchen cabinets, new counter, you name it. It’s so exciting! 

He feels a surge of pride, too, when his friends come over for a barbecue and say, “Man, you’re doing a great job. This is yours now!”

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Urban Institute. “The Number of Hispanic Households Will Skyrocket by 2040. How Can the Housing Industry Support Their Needs?

  2. Pew. “Millions of Americans Have Used Risky Financing Arrangements To Buy Homes.”

  3. "2021 Hispanic Homebuyer Profile."

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