What to Know When Buying a Home
También puedes leer este artículo en español, Lo que debe saber al comprar una casa.
At first glance, the future looks bright for Latino homebuyers.
The 2021 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report from The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) projects that in the next 20 years, Latinos will account for 70% of homeownership growth. That makes them the only racial or ethnic group expected to see increased ownership rates.
An Urban Institute report shows that in 1990 just 7.3% of households under 65 were Hispanic, but that is expected to exceed 20% by 2040.
However, first-time Latino homebuyers often confront unique barriers, including a mortgage system that values traditional employment and credit scores, language barriers, lack of documentation and trust issues.
“It’s the American dream, and its attainability can be complicated based on three obstacles: credit, affordability and down payment,” said Issac Morales, vice president and community outreach officer at Encore Bank. “Most of the time, it is only one, but when there are two or all three, it can be overwhelming.”
Sandra Guardado Becker, a real estate agent with REMAX, added that language barriers and documentation also pose barriers to home ownership.
“There’s the Hispanic community that are either residents or citizens, and then there’s the Hispanic community that doesn’t have the documentation they need,” she said.
- Know your banker — Creating a relationship with a personal banker, asking questions and setting financial goals can provide an understanding of your personal finances and break down barriers of mistrust. “Power is knowledge, and if homeownership is in your vision board, there is not a better way to start than to consult with a mortgage professional,” Morales said.
- Know your numbers — Know your credit score, control daily expenses, make sure you’ve saved enough to cover your first two or three mortgage payments and refrain from spending more than 30% of your income on mortgage payments. For a free credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com/index.action. A free budgeting worksheet can be found here.
- Know your resources — Your local banker can provide guidance, tools and access to resources and programs. Arkansas Development Finance Authority (ADFA) down payment assistance programs can help you cover the cost of a downpayment and closing cost with two different programs for up to $25,000. Programs can be found at homeloans.arkansas.gov. For those who lack documentation like a social security number, Becker says some banks offer loan programs that allow people to use their Tax Identification Number (TIN).
- Know to ask — Many first-time homebuyers feel they must contact the listing agent, but more and more real estate companies are employing bilingual agents like Becker. You can ask your realtor if they have an agent who speaks Spanish, which can help avoid misunderstandings that can lead to unpleasant surprises during the home-buying process. “Now there are realtors that are bilingual,” Becker said. “That’s growing now in central Arkansas. That’s a great help. Hispanics feel comfortable with someone else that speaks Spanish as well.”