Blog Stories Against the Odds

Against the Odds

By Melissa Dorman, December 24, 2020

For some people owning a home is something they just know they will do one day. This was not the case for my lovely clients, Dylan and Melinda, who never felt like homeownership was a guarantee. Both Black, and both growing up in low-income families, they faced barriers that others might not.

Still, Melinda and Dylan made it work. Through encouragement from family and friends, as well as hard work and a vision of what might be, they took a leap of faith and decided to begin the journey to homeownership. They started by eliminating their credit card debt, then focused their energy on saving a down payment for their home. As interest rates crept down because of the pandemic, now was their chance to buy a home!

Many of my clients have family members who gift them money for a down payment or co-sign on the loan, but this was not the case for Dylan and Melinda. Fortunately, they had a long time family friend who gifted them funds to increase their downpayment amount. However, most people do not know that friends cannot gift you funds for a home purchase. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae lending guidelines require such gifts to come from a family member or workplace.

This systemic issue, which excludes people who do not have generational wealth, or work jobs that provide such luxury benefits, almost tanked their shot at their dream home. However, they were able to scramble at the last minute and come up with the funds on their own. This in itself is, at least in part, due to their privileges of higher education (both Dylan and Melida are first-generation college graduates, and have master’s degrees) which allows them to have stable jobs and money in the bank, even during the pandemic.

However, it’s worth considering that many who come from low-income families, especially those with less financial privilege and flexibility, are unable to access homeownership despite having allies willing to help them monetarily. As a nation, we are looking for ways to create equity and equality, especially for those who were, and are, still systemically excluded due to socioeconomic status. Changing lending guidelines would be one way to create new hope and opportunity for many currently excluded. But we are not there today.

Today I’m proud to say that despite all the odds, Melinda and Dylan have forged a new path and are officially homeowners! Their story is one of inspiration and also one of reflection on the ways we as a nation can work to make it easier for folks to achieve homeownership and build wealth.

Melissa Dorman

Broker | OR & WA


Ten years ago, Melissa was living in a slum in Kolkata, India, helping over 200 women escape sex trafficking by providing alternative work at a social business. It was there she discovered her passion for financial education as a means of empowering people to move out of poverty. After graduating from UCLA with a Masters, Melissa spent 5 years working as a Social Worker; assisting clients facing homelessness, in jail, or at a psychiatric facility. As much as she loved the work, imagining saving for retirement on the meager salary of a social worker was becoming grim. That's when Melissa discovered "passive income." In no time, she fell in LOVE with real estate as a vehicle for wealth. Soon after, Melissa began locating off-market multi-family properties to purchase through creative financing strategies and win-win opportunities. Two years into investing, Melissa quit her day job as a Social Worker to become a full-time broker and investor. Initially, she was drawn to people in difficult circumstances, so she developed extensive experience assisting families facing foreclosure, short sales, and probate. Melissa is well versed in helping her clients overcome complex real estate challenges. Currently, Melissa is teamed up with Super Broker, Yascha Noonberg at Living Room Realty. Together they assist clients to achieve their real estate dreams, including how to strategically buy and sell a personal residence to maximize profits. Far from the slums of Kolkata, her greatest passion now is empowering other working professionals to develop passive forms of income through buying multi-family properties in Portland.
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