In May 2016, Natalia Jaime-Lopez told her husband, Fernando, she was tired of renting and wanted to become a homeowner. “I knew right then that Natalia would navigate her way through the resources and information and reach her goal,” he said. “She is very headstrong. When Natalia sets her mind on something, you know it’s going to happen.”

The Jaime-Lopezes got to work saving money and educating themselves about the process of purchasing and maintaining ownership of a home. All that hard work paid off in June 2017 when they received the keys to their house; the Whittier, California residents couldn’t be happier.

“We would like other people to know that it is possible to buy a home,” said Natalia. “You need to get informed and look for help from the right resources in your community.”

“The couple had a vision of what was needed to achieve homeownership...”

How a community helps

After getting married in Los Angeles in 1981, Fernando and Natalia started building their life together and, with their four children, relocated to Colorado in 2000.

Despite owning homes in the past, upon returning to Los Angeles in 2010, they decided to rent. But the homeownership bug kept nipping at Natalia. Then the East Los Angeles Community Corporation (ELACC) came into the picture.

“What the ELACC does is prepare you,” said Natalia. ELACC’s mission is to improve the quality of life of local residents. “They talk through everything — savings, expenses, budgeting — and help you get educated and plan.”

Cindy Adame, housing and financial counselor at ELACC, who worked with the Jaime-Lopezes for several months, commended them for their diligence in committing to the process — especially when it came to saving money. “Fernando and Natalia started saving the first day they walked through our doors, and they’ve been doing it ever since,” said Cindy, adding the couple had a vision of what was needed to achieve homeownership from day one.

Turned down by lenders

After working with the ELACC to ensure they were qualified and had enough money saved, the Jaime-Lopezes visited lenders about financing. Their initial experiences were disheartening, with lenders either not approving them or wanting to sell them additional products.

But Fernando said that one thing he learned from working with the ELACC is that “you can’t be afraid to change. You have to be flexible. A lot of people stop when they hear the word ‘no.’ You need to look for a different road.”

That different road came courtesy of Adame, who recommended that the Jaime-Lopezes visit Clemen Mendoza, a home mortgage consultant with Wells Fargo. Like Adame, Mendoza has a passion for financial education and working with aspiring homeowners in the East Los Angeles community.

Mendoza, started meeting with the Jaime-Lopezes and recommended Wells Fargo’s exclusive “yourFirst Mortgage” program, which offers a 3 percent down payment option and has no area median income requirements. Also, buyers who take homebuyer education may be eligible to receive a $750 closing cost credit.

Fernando said yourFirst Mortgage and Mendoza’s guidance was the perfect fit. “When other people had said ‘no,’ [Mendoza] and Wells Fargo got us approved right away.” He added that “everything happened so fast” — their first meeting with Mendoza was May 6 and they closed June 30, less than two months later. In addition to Mendoza and Adame, the Jaime-Lopezes also extended their thanks to their realtor, Gay-Lynn Barnes, for playing a critical role in helping them find the right house at the right price.

“Wells Fargo is committed to helping all of our customers who are financially ready achieve sustainable homeownership,” said Clemen, adding that the Jaime-Lopezes demonstrated their willingness to be financially ready from the start of the process.

“I can recall the moment Natalia came to one of my homeownership seminars, even after all the work she had done to prepare herself,” said Clemen. “Afterwards, she gave me a hug, thanked me and said ‘I know you are going to help me buy my house.’ That made such a difference and now that they are homeowners, thinking about it all just brings tears to my eyes.”