When Amina Stevens chose her career, the Tampa native decided to follow the footsteps of several family members and become a high school English teacher.
She loved helping her students, but early on she knew that job wasn’t quite right. As she thought more about the house hunting shows she grew up watching on HGTV, she thought: Why not try real estate?
Stevens, 28, found her stride as a broker associate with EXP Realty. She’s still a fan of HGTV — only now, she’s the one on the screen.
The new show First Timers Club stars Stevens as she helps Tampa Bay families navigate a fiercely competitive housing market to purchase their first homes. She uses her background as an educator to help clients understand the three main roadblocks to home ownership: financing, education and emotions.
Two pilots will air back to back at 11 a.m. March 10 on HGTV. One episode features Linda, a single mom of four trying to achieve her lifelong goal of home ownership. The second revolves around Victoria and Ray, a couple who struggle to agree on the size of their yard.
First Timers Club was designed to be more realistic than other house hunting shows, said Danny Downing, co-owner of production company Red Arrow Industries. Instead of glossy shots of luxury real estate or families that tour three homes and pick one at the end, the show features Stevens helping clients understand credit scores and loan options. Buyers lose opportunities and sometimes take months to find their dream home.
“We’re showing people crying. We’re showing the hard decisions,” said Downing, who is also an executive producer of the show. “Finding a house in this market is very challenging, and we want a happy ending at the end.”
Downing’s team reached out to Stevens after stumbling across her Instagram account, @homesbyamina. They were struck by her bubbly and informative posts aimed at helping new buyers. The fact that she was working in a beautiful, diverse region — and one of the hottest real estate markets in the country —didn’t hurt.
“You can take the client to look at an oceanside condo, or you can take them inland to look at a home with a big backyard,” Downing said.
HGTV will assess the ratings after the two pilots air before ordering the next batch of episodes.
“I really want people to know that home ownership is achievable. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have the biggest budget or best credit score or that you’re the first person in your family to own, or that you even have a criminal record,” Stevens said. “There is a path for everybody to become a homeowner.”