Tampa realtor stars on HGTV show about first-time buyers

When Amina Stevens chose her career, the Tampa native decided to follow in the footsteps of several family members and become a high school English teacher.

She loved helping her students, but very early on she knew that this work was not quite appropriate. As she thought more about the house hunting shows she grew up watching on HGTV, she thought to herself, why not give real estate a try?

Stevens, 28, found his groove as an associate broker at EXP Realty. She’s still a fan of HGTV — only now she’s the one behind the screen.

The new show beginners club features Stevens as she helps Tampa Bay families navigate a fiercely competitive housing market to buy their first home. She uses her experience as an educator to help clients understand the three main barriers to homeownership: financing, education and emotions.

Two pilots will air back-to-back at 11 a.m. on March 10 on HGTV. One episode features Linda, a single mother of four trying to achieve her goal of becoming a landlord. The second revolves around Victoria and Ray, a couple struggling to agree on the size of their garden.

beginners 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 photos of luxury real estate or families viewing three homes and choosing 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 show people crying. We show the tough decisions,” said Downing, who also serves as the show’s executive producer. “Finding a home in this market is very difficult, and we want a happy ending in the end.”

Downing’s team reached out to Stevens after coming across his Instagram account, @homesbyamina. They were struck by his bubbly and informative messages aimed at helping new buyers. The fact that she worked in a beautiful, diverse area — and one of the hottest real estate markets in the country — didn’t hurt.

“You can take the client to see an oceanfront condo, or you can take them inland to see a house with a big backyard,” Downing said.

HGTV will evaluate ratings after both pilots air before ordering the next batch of episodes.

“I really want people to know that home ownership is achievable. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the biggest budget or the best credit or you’re the first person in your family to own, or even have a criminal record,” Stevens said. “There is a path for everyone to become an owner.”