Rebekka Ramirez is a first time homebuyer in Whittier. She has good fortune conspiring for her on multiple fronts. The first was that her parents moved in with her father’s parents and offered to sell her the home where she was raised. The second was her husband partnered with her financially to facilitate the purchase of the home. The third, she said, was her faith. Adding them all up, she has been able to continue a tradition of homeownership that began with her Mexican grandmother from Nuevo León and continued with her father. She is also one of those rare examples in the Latina/o community that is benefitting from and continuing her family’s generational wealth via real estate. She is a third generation home owner. When asked for her advice to folks wanting to mimic her good fortune or follow her advice, she offers her faith and her hard work as the two core pillars to make things possible. 

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Sergio: Please describe your childhood home?

A quaint one story terracotta-colored stucco home in Whittier with palm trees, lilies and hibiscus plants in a small gated community. Two bedrooms with a garage that was renovated to be my schoolroom when I was home-schooled. My parents owned the home. It was my home from the age of 5 till I turned 18.

Sergio: When did you begin to fantasize about prosperity and did you tie your vision to an image of a home?

In my mind, my family was considered middle class. I knew we were economically better off than my grandfather who had come over from Metlaltepec, Hidalgo, Mexico. 

There was an interesting moment in my childhood while my dad was getting his MBA, we all moved into my grandparent’s house. At one point, it was a household of 13 – my grandparents, two uncles, my aunt, my four cousins, plus my family of four all in one small house. As a child, I thought it was really fun but when I look back on it, I think, that was a lot of people! Going from that to my childhood home, it felt like we had all the space in the world.

My father worked really hard to provide for us. For most of my childhood, my father was a high school teacher. We weren’t what I’d consider “uber rich,” but I always felt like I was content and in a good place. There was lots of warmth and a lot of love. I never felt like there was any wanting at home, except maybe when I wanted something other than beans and rice for dinner. 

As a child, I took school and church very seriously. I was very sheltered. My friends were a mixed combination of people. We had our home-school group, our church group, and various extracurricular groups like our ice skating group and our soccer group. At the time, I didn’t necessarily feel that there was too much of a difference between any of us as my parents raised us to pay attention to character vs. means. (This means) being able to afford the time, people and things in your life beyond what you need. This to me is what prosperity is but I felt that money wasn’t tied to prosperity.

Sergio: What does your home look like present-day?

In 2010, my grandfather developed an illness that was so serious that my parents moved in with him. My father, his son and my very white mother from South Carolina became my grandfather’s caretakers. My grandparents live in La Mirada and are homeowners as well. I truly believe God opened the doors for my parents to be there for my grandparents during a difficult time of life. Over the course of 10 years, my mom, a very creative person, began to re-do both my grandparent’s home and also my childhood home. Alongside these changes, my family developed these really cute routines and traditions like Taco Tuesdays and taking my grandmother to get her hair done every Saturday morning at the hair salon down the street. I think it’s such a loving sacrifice that my parents have made to help take care of my grandparents.

Sergio: Did you just say that your Mexican grandparents owned their home too? So, your Mexican grandparents were homeowners in La Mirada and your Mexican father was a homeowner in Whittier, how did all these generations become so successful in homeownership?

Jesus and a hard work ethic. My grandfather worked in construction and my grandmother was a teacher her entire career. My grandmother went to Whittier College and she was remarkable in how she provided for her family. She also opened her doors to all of our extended family at all times. Her family was from Nuevo León, Mexico.

Sergio: Ok, sorry, let’s go back to your parents at your grandparent’s home?

So, my parents moved out but kept my childhood home in Whittier. Fast forward to 2022, my parents decided they wanted to sell. They knew the season of life my husband and I were in and they proposed for my husband and I to buy my childhood home.

Sergio: What was happening between you and your husband?

When Covid hit, I was already married (in 2018) and my new husband and I were living in this tiny and very expensive apartment in Irvine so that we could be close to his office. His office went remote and we began to question why we were wasting so much money to live in Irvine. So, when my parents offered their renovated home – my childhood house but it looks different because my mom did a full interior design update on it – we immediately accepted. And we began renting from them. About a year into renting from them, they told us that it was time to sell and they offered it to us. We prayed about it and God opened the doors for us to buy.

Sergio: Were you working at this time?

I’ve always had a fascination with weddings. I read a lot of wedding blogs in high school. My parents thought it was funny because I didn’t even have a boyfriend and so they questioned why I was so interested in weddings and the wedding industry. But my love of the wedding industry birthed an interest in becoming a wedding and event planner. I love planning events, but economically, it was a bit unstable for me, a lot of random 1099 contracts. I didn’t think that I had enough for a mortgage [but] with mine plus my husband’s joint income, we were able to purchase my childhood home.

Sergio: Tell me about the process of transferring the ownership of the home?

We were both first time buyers so we were very unfamiliar with the process. We had to figure out how to qualify, how to transfer the mortgage and the deed and we signed a ton of paperwork. We’ve been in the house since August 2020 and we purchased the home in February 2022. We love it. It’s a dream come true. At times, I don’t feel old enough to own a home; we feel like we are playing house. However, we both love that we aren’t renting anymore.

Sergio: What’s wrong with renting?

We don’t want our hard earned money to be feeding somebody else’s wealth.

Sergio: Who taught you that renting was feeding somebody else’s wealth?

We listen to a lot of Dave Ramsey podcasts. We agree with a lot of the principles they talk about. Not everything, but most things. My dad also taught me a lot about finances and the importance of being a good steward with what you are given. It also helps that my husband is great with numbers.

Sergio: Is there a connection between your former fantasy and your current reality?

I don’t know if this is our forever home. We want to have children one day. I know that my parents raised two kids in this house so I know we can do it here as well. But my husband is one of four siblings so if we decide to have a bigger family, this may not be the place. I’m open to whatever the Lord has planned for us. I’m ready. We’re taking it one day at a time. I love my life. I’m really thankful. God has had a way of making my life much better than I ever imagined. The things that I thought I wanted, when I look back, I am thankful that they never happened. I love mine and my husband’s family values and we hope to pass on those values to our future family one day.

Sergio C. Muñoz is a Mexican banker living in Floral Park, CA. He is the owner of Intelatin, LLC. His work has been published on PBS and in ReVista, the Harvard Review of Latin America, Studio 360 and...