Housing markets could benefit from Latinos who want to buy their first homes

The executive director of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals says many Latinos want to purchase homes:

Q: Your report (“The State of Hispanic Homeownership” at NAHREP.org), assembles data from a number of private and governmental sources, and contends that the number of Hispanic homeowners has grown to 6.69 million in 2012 from 4.24 million in 2000 and that they represented 51 percent of the total net increase of 694,000 owner-households in the United States in 2012. Considering the nation’s economic circumstances, that sounds pretty good. Yet, you say they’re facing head winds?

A: Even to our surprise, Hispanic homeowners seem to be very resilient, especially coming off the (housing) crisis. Affordability is at an all-time high and a lot of Hispanics have jumped into the market recently. Some of the biggest factors in this are household formation, income trends and overall consumer confidence. They’re forming households at a faster rate than the general population. If you look at the market of Hispanic households, they’re much more likely to be made up of a husband and wife with children, (an arrangement that’s) much more aligned with the purchase of a home.

But there are a couple of major barriers to this trend continuing, and though difficulty in accessing mortgage credit is an important one, even more important right now is the lack of inventory of houses for sale…

The fulfillment of this scenario of Hispanics being a dominant force in future homebuying will require the industry to be able to adapt to cultural nuances. And basically, NAHREP is saying the industry isn’t there yet. Twelve years ago, when we started this organization, we were selling a vision that few people bought into. It’s not really like that anymore — the major players in housing now understand, or are starting to understand, how important the Latino market is.But there are nuances to working with the Hispanic market — there’s language, of course, and the likelihood of so-called “thin” credit files (that limit access to mortgages) within a culture where having debt is not a desirable thing.

The housing market could benefit from such a reservoir of buyers. For example, those baby boomers who want to unload their homes in the near future may just want to access possible Latino buyers. Plus, the one cited figure above seems to suggest that some of the uptick in housing in the country can be attributed to Latinos. But, assuming different groups in the United States want to or perhaps more importantly can, given the wealth differences in the United States, purchase homes is not a given. There are still big gaps in homeownership rates by race and ethnicity.

It would be interesting to hear how real estate agents and others in the real estate industry are really adjusting their methods for potential Latino customers.

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