Why Language Is One Of The Biggest Barriers To Home Ownership For Spanish-Speakers In The U.S.
Buying a home is still a good way to build wealth in the U.S., and — especially for immigrants — it’s a large part of the dream of settling in and establishing roots.
However, language remains one of the biggest barriers to ownership for many Hispanic and Latinx immigrants who move here from such Spanish-speaking countries as Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Spain and El Salvador. Not only is purchasing a home one of the biggest financial decisions a person or family can make in their life, but the complex process requires research and guidance — services not often provided in Spanish.
According to a recent report by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), 33% of the Hispanic population in the U.S. are immigrants and their first language is Spanish.
Spanish-speaking immigrants have more than $1.7 trillion in buying power, yet continue to be underserved and underrepresented because vital documents such as prerequisite explanations, loan applications, appraisal documents and closing contracts are rarely presented in Spanish.
While experts have recently challenged the axiom that you need 20% saved for a down payment, there are still many costs associated with buying a first home. And because Hispanic and Latinx people are more likely to make less money than the national average, it takes them longer to save. This also means that they are buying homes later in life.
There are 12.3 million Hispanic people aged 38-to-53 living in the U.S. who have worked and saved their way to establish home buying power, and these are precisely the people who need help navigating the process in their own language. But the issues they face once they enter the market include not having real estate professionals who can guide them and cater to their unique needs.
The need to have a translator (whether a family member, friend or colleague) complicates the process, and NAHREP reports that the number of Spanish-speaking real estate professionals needs to double in order to keep up with the demand. The question remains: If realtors cannot help with translations and the needs of this community, how can home buyers truly understand the details around the process?
It’s time to talk the talk
Oftentimes, there are many questions that go unanswered during the initial home buying search that then deter families from moving forward with home buying. Many of these questions revolve around where to get started, how to apply for a mortgage loan, what is the required credit score and more. Mortgage lender Rocket Mortgage has created a Spanish language-based learning center to help first-time home buyers navigate the process.
Some of the most important terms that require translation that those in the Latinx/Hispanic communities don’t often see or hear translated are mortgage (“hipoteca”), interest rate (“tasa de interés”) appraisal (“evaluación” or “tasación”), and escrow (“fideicomiso”). The Rocket Mortgage learning center is available in English and en Español and helps by answering in Spanish many frequently asked questions regarding the mortgage process. This opens up new opportunities for families to become better informed and further benefit from using loans to buy their first home in order to build wealth.
With mortgage rates reaching historic lows, this year presents a big opportunity for first-time home buyers to enter the market. It’s a matter of finding the inclusive resources that will help individuals and families learn more about the process, no matter their original language.
From Rocket Mortgage:
For more than 35 years, Rocket Mortgage has been simplifying the home loan process by designing it entirely around you. When you want personalized attention and need a mortgage to fit your family and budget, Rocket Can. Visit RocketMortgage.com to learn more.
Quicken Loans, LLC; NMLS #3030; www.NMLSConsumerAccess.org. Equal Housing Lender. Licensed in 50 states.
This article was paid for by Rocket Mortgage and co-created by RYOT Studio. HuffPost editorial staff did not participate in the creation of this content.