Tampa Bay stars in Oprah Winfrey Network’s new real estate reality show – Tampa Bay Times

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TAMPA ― Amina Stevens’ mother waited until the age of 50 to become a first-time homeowner.

Part of the holdup was due to upbringing.

“She was living here but raised in Chicago,” Stevens, 30, said. “There are a lot of homeowners there but a lot of people who prefer to live in apartments.”

But part of the delay was also because, as a teacher and single mother of four, Stevens’ mother thought such a large purchase might be too much of a financial burden.

Now a Realtor of six years, Stevens wonders if her mother’s concern was erroneous.

“A lot of people think they look too imperfect on paper to buy a home,” she said. “But the truth is, they don’t have to be perfect.”

Stevens is now bringing that message to a television audience via her new 10-episode reality show, “First-Time Buyer’s Club,” which premieres at 9 p.m. on Dec. 30 on the Oprah Winfrey Network, also known as OWN. A second 30-minute episode will air immediately afterward at 9:30 p.m.

According to OWN, the series “is an authentic and in-depth look at the exciting but complex journey of becoming a homeowner for the very first time, no matter the stage in life … Filmed across the Tampa Bay area, each episode follows Amina as she meets and works with a new client, navigating the many pros and cons of various homes and locales.”

In the first episode, Stevens helps a grandmother of four looking to buy her first home as she approaches retirement. In the second, she counsels a young couple torn between a single-family home and an investment opportunity.

There are plenty of reality shows about the real estate industry, Stevens admitted, but said that hers stands out because it is focused on the intricacies of home buying whereas others sometimes serve more as showcases for houses that the average person cannot afford.

“We’re not just focused on the house,” she said. “This is really about the client’s journey. A lot of shows introduce the clients and immediately jump to the house. My show explains how we get to that place.”

Viewers will witness nearly every step of the purchasing journey and learn about programs that can help those with imperfect credit become homeowners.

“There are programs to help you qualify for a mortgage with zero down payment,” Stevens said. “Some think they need to have a 700 or 800 credit score … But the reality is that most programs go down to a 580 credit score. Some go even lower with a significant down payment.

“I think that when people watch the show, not only are they going to be entertained, but educated and inspired” to buy their first home.

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Being a part of her mother’s journey in 2016 to become a first-time homeowner inspired Stevens, then also a teacher, to become a Realtor.

“I never thought that my family could become homeowners,” said Stevens, who lived in four rentals in four different parts of Tampa while growing up. “I thought it was like a club that you were either born into or you’re not … It was sentimental for my mom, but it was also a little bit bittersweet. I think she wished that she would have been able to do it while we were kids and had that family home.”

Looking to protect her mother from a possible financial mistake, she asked the real estate agent questions, “probably too many,” Stevens said with a laugh, to understand how that purchase was being funded and what other options were available.

“My mom didn’t really know what to do or how to navigate it,” Stevens said. “And here was this guide and this adviser helping her to make the largest financial transaction of her life. That was a lightbulb moment for me. I got to see how it worked and how I could enjoy that myself” as a Realtor.

A little more than a year ago, Stevens said, she too became a first-time homeowner.

“I bought my home for no money out of my pocket,” she said. “I was able to utilize some of the programs that I utilize with my clients.

“My mom was super excited. It’s walking distance from her house.”

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