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Promoting homeownership

Dorchester real estate agent puts clients, herself on track to buy

Karen Morales
Promoting homeownership
Tayla Andre of Thumprint Realty with her son, Prince. PHOTO: KAREN MORALES

Real estate agent and radio host Tayla Andre grew up in Dorchester’s Four Corners neighborhood and earned her bachelor’s degree in political science at Pine Manor College. She currently works as a real estate agent under the firm Thumbprint Realty located in Dorchester and is the host of her own radio and podcast show called “Wake Up With Tayla Andre.”

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Andre recently welcomed her son Prince, who is now 5 months old, to the family. Prince goes everywhere with Andre as she works, from open houses to deal closings, to the delight of her clients. “I’ve been able to maintain the same work schedule as before,” she says. “Having him in my life has not prevented me from being the best agent I can be.”

Although experienced enough to open her own real estate firm, Andre says working with Thumbprint was the best option for her. “It feels like home to me,” she says.

With Thumbprint, Andre launched a campaign in 2016 called the 90 Day Home Buying Challenge. “We got about 1,000 calls from people interested,” she says. “We started educating people on what it takes to buy a home and understand how real estate works.”

She continues, “Before, it was only those who knew, knew. But we wanted to open up the conversation to everybody. This should be something that is talked about at the dinner table. A lot of people in my community lacked these conversations.”

Mentoring clients

Since that first homebuying campaign in 2016, Andre has worked one-on-one with various clients who, three years later, are still in the process of becoming financially strong enough to buy a home in the Greater Boston area. “Some people have defaults on their credit, or really low credit and no savings,” she says. “I spend 60 percent of my time educating people and connecting people with loan officers who tell them to work on X, Y, and Z before making a down payment.”

According to Andre, what every first-time homebuyer should know is that they should have a credit score of at least 580, but ideally at least 680 to get a lower interest rate. First-time homebuyers should also have at least $10,000 in savings and seek out pre-approvals for loans. “Don’t let student loans hold you back if you haven’t paid them back in full yet,” says Andre. “Everyone has them, so it’s not usually a huge issue.”

Andre is, in a way, going through the Home Buyers Challenge herself, working to purchase her first home in December of this year. “I don’t rush any of my clients to buy because I understand through my own experience about having to pay down debts and be in a better financial position,” says Andre.

Her career process, too, has been marked by patience and perseverance. Andre first took the real estate license exam as an 18-year-old, and then a few more times later on in her life after going to college and having two kids. As a young adult, she was deterred for a time from trying again, but by 2014, her perseverance was fueled by a bigger cause.

“I started seeing gentrification in Boston and I started asking questions,” says Andre. “My questions kept getting directed back to the developers. The city didn’t really have answers for me.”

Mission-driven

Concerned about how it was possible that elder residents and longtime families in Boston could be losing their homes and having to move outside the city, she started studying the market.

“I didn’t go into it with a profit mindset,” says Andre about her decision to try for her real estate license again. “I wanted to better understand the market and teach people how to take advantage of it.”

Andre now works with sellers with properties in Dorchester, Roxbury, Hyde Park and Mattapan. When working with buyers, however, most of them are currently looking for properties outside of Boston along the South and North shore, especially on Commuter Rail lines.

“I see elder clients looking into condos, [when] they no longer are able to shovel or take out the trash, young people who have lived in apartments their whole lives and want their own single-family home, and some people who just want to invest in real estate and have it be their residual income,” says Andre.

Longtime homeowners in Boston can take advantage of the currently strong housing market and create generational wealth, says Andre. “People think they need to lose a house if they can’t afford to maintain it or pay the property taxes. But Boston has programs and resources to help renovate old properties for homeowners, and then those homeowners can rent out their two or three family houses.”

One common scenario is longtime homeowners in Boston selling their aging and poorly maintained houses to an outside investor who fixes it up and makes double or triple what it was sold for. Instead, Andre says, “We should be turning the homeowner into the investor.”

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