Tucson Citizen
Thursday, August 5, 2004

Knowledge gap blocks Hispanics wanting to buy homes

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - The housing industry is failing to attract hundreds of thousands of potential Hispanic home buyers who are hindered from entering the market because of a lack of information and other key barriers, according to a study released yesterday.
The report, "El Sueño de su Casa: the Homeownership Potential for Mexican-Heritage Families" was released by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California and funded by mortgage broker Freddie Mac.

By providing more bilingual outreach programs and access to alternative mortgage products, the housing industry could enable another 700,000 Hispanic families to buy homes, the report said.

"It is essential that policymakers, real estate professionals, community groups and business leaders find new and innovative ways to reach (the Hispanic) market and help bridge the home-buying information gap," Harry Pachon, president of the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, said in a statement.

The study, based on a survey of 1,400 families of Mexican origin in Los Angeles, Houston and Atlanta, is the largest of its kind.

About 84 percent of Hispanic renters "strongly" desire to buy a home and 55 percent plan on buying in the next five years, the study showed. As a result, the institute estimated at least 1.5 million Hispanic households will buy homes by 2010.

But the Los Angeles-based think tank says even more Hispanics could be lured to the housing market if more aggressive measures were taken by the business community.

The institute concedes that many of the hurdles to homeownership cut across all ethnic boundaries. But the new study identified several key hurdles for prospective Hispanic homeowners, especially getting accurate, bilingual information about qualifying for a mortgage.

The chief difficulties anticipated by respondents who planned to buy a house within the next five years were a lack of familiarity with the mortgage process, saving for a down payment and finding a trustworthy adviser.

"As trusted, well-informed advisers, practitioners have the ability to help an entire generation of Latino families achieve the American dream," said Gary Acosta, chairman and co-founder of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.