Latinos, first-time buyers key to recovery

WASHINGTON – June 16, 2011 – The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) published a report “The State of Hispanic Homeownership,” that offers data on the Hispanic homebuyer market and why it is poised, due to its population size, high desire and buying clout, to drive first-time homebuyer purchases and accelerate the nation’s economic recovery.

A digital copy of the report in PDF format is available here.

According to the report, minorities and immigrants are expected to drive demand for condominiums, smaller starter homes and first trade-up homes for the next 15 years. They’re also expected to be a rapidly growing segment of the middle and middle-upper markets for housing.

“The Latin boom has been forecasted for years, but we are now seeing the front edge of it; and it has the potential to help the nation’s housing system get back on track if we can create a safe credit environment for new buyers to get into the market,” says Carmen Mercado, president of the 18,000-member trade group.

The report, penned by former housing fellow, researcher and author Alejandro Becerra, cites the following trends:

• Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the nation and represent a growing portion of the 26 to 46 age group involved in most home sales.

• Hispanics have a greater propensity than other population groups to pick up stakes and move to other parts of the country in search of better jobs and more affordable housing.

• Hispanics continue to attain steady gains in income, education and entrepreneurship; and they have a strong work ethic, desire to succeed and purchasing power. Those traits will enable more of them to achieve homeownership.

• The current environment of record low interest rates, government-backed loans and less predatory lending makes sustainable homeownership more affordable.

• Earlier housing surveys show that Hispanics strongly aspire to become homeowners and are more motivated than the general population to buy a home for emotional and financial reasons. Fifty-seven percent of Hispanics consider owning a home a symbol of success, compared to only 33 percent of all Americans.

While Hispanics have been severely impacted by foreclosure, the larger population of potential homebuyers was unaffected by the crisis. However, tight credit, higher fees and stricter underwriting requirements continue to remain barriers. The report says that downpayment assistance and savings programs are crucial.

“In the climate of crisis, we must resist overreaching with regulations that make homeownership more expensive for millions of responsible consumers who have the buying power to revitalize our fragile housing market,” says Mercado. “Homeownership remains a cornerstone of family stability and long-term wealth creation.”

© 2011 Florida Realtors®