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Hispanic homeownership held back by FHA borrower discrimination, survey says

A report by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals outlines challenges facing Hispanic borrowers

Last year, the Hispanic homeownership rate grew to 48.4% from 47.5% in 2019, but they are still much more likely than non-Hispanic whites to get denied a conventional loan.

The rate of Hispanic homeownership has been inching up each year since 2014, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. But there are many obstacles to further expanding Latino homeownership, despite the projected growth in the next two decades.

Latinos are twice as likely to use Federal Housing Administration financing than non-Hispanic white borrowers, but most of the real estate agents the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals surveyed felt FHA borrowers were at a competitive disadvantage.

One real estate agent interviewed by the NAHREP surveyors said the biggest challenge in 2021 was discrimination against FHA borrowers.

“A lot of sellers were very blunt about it: ‘If it’s FHA, forget it,’” said Lizbeth Alarcon, an agent at RE/MAX Vivid Realty. “FHA offers were being eliminated, even if it was a strong offer.”

Interviews with other agents revealed that sellers were also reluctant to accept borrowers with down payment assistance, and that Latino borrowers were removing appraisal contingencies in order to compete.

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Latinos were 81% more likely to be denied a conventional mortgage than non-Hispanic white borrowers, an analysis of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data showed. The conventional loan denial rate for Latinos in 2021 was 19.1%, according to the report.

A lack of supply impacts the entire mortgage market, but for Latinos, it is particularly worrying, the report argued. Nearly 13% of the nation’s Latino population is centered in two states, Arizona and Florida, where home prices rose 28.6% and 25.6% last year, respectively.

The report also found that in some markets, Latino buyers are losing out because they cannot compete with institutional investors. In the third quarter of 2021, investors purchased nearly a quarter of properties in each of the 20 markets where Latinos are most populous, the report found. In some markets, however, the share of institutional purchases was much higher — as much as 39%.

The report also included an analysis, developed with Freddie Mac, to identify markets with the greatest potential for Latino homeownership growth. The analysis ranked metro areas by the number of mortgage-ready Latinos, and compared the share of Latinos that can afford a median-priced home with the amount of supply available. McAllen, Brownsville, El Paso and Laredo, Texas topped the list. Cleveland, Detroit and Oklahoma City followed.

Latinos are beginning to come into their prime home-buying years, the report authors write.

Out of any racial or ethnic demographic, Latinos, with a median age of 30, are the youngest. They are also much more likely to purchase homes at a young age, a 2021 National Association of Realtors study found. That study found that more than a third of new Latino homeowners purchased a home before they turned 24, compared to only 17% of the general population.

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