In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, and as a first-generation Latina in the mortgage industry, I’m sharing what I know firsthand about my culture so you can understand its nuances and be in a better position to help mortgage-ready Hispanics achieve their dreams of homeownership.
Buying a home is a pride purchase.
Homeownership is a sign of success for Latinos and sets an example for their children and entire family. Being able to buy a home is a symbolic achievement, and is emotional for them because it often entails overcoming challenges, such as:
- Credit barriers – Traditionally, Latinos avoided credit card debt because it was viewed negatively, i.e., if you don’t have enough money to purchase something, you don’t buy it. Hence, many are credit invisible
- Language barriers – Not all first-generation Hispanics are fluid in English, so the loan process can be confusing and intimidating. (However, most second-generations are bilingual, and many prefer to communicate in English.)
- Financial barriers – Being able to secure viable employment can be a challenge for immigrants in a new country even if they are hardworking and entrepreneurial
They have tight-knit families.
In Hispanic culture, family is everything. The bonds of family provide physical, emotional, financial, and social support.
- Multigenerational households are common (32%), whether for financial reasons or personal preference1
- Latino homebuyers want big backyards for hosting family gatherings (38%) and homes with extra living space to accommodate family members (53%)2
- In addition to the actual homebuyer(s), family members often play a key role in decision-making
When my husband and I bought our first house, my entire family was so excited that we got lunch and ate it on the floor of our new house right after the closing. Then, my family helped us move, clean and decorate our new house.
They lack trust in financial institutions.
While working at a bank located within a grocery store during college, I learned that many older Latinos had experienced corruption at the banks in their countries of origin. As a result, many were fearful of losing their money, i.e., not getting their deposits back, so they hid cash in their homes. This made it harder to verify their assets when applying for a mortgage.
I discovered how helpful it was to explain the importance of having their money in a federally insured financial institution, and to gain their trust by educating them about different financial options and accounts.
Case in point: My father, who is a homeowner, had no idea that you could refinance a mortgage loan. When I told him my husband and I were refinancing to a better rate and shaving 12 years off the term, he was flabbergasted. When I shared with my cousin what we were doing, she was also unaware of the possibility and called her financial institution the following week to refinance her own mortgage. Education is key with this demographic.
What you can do as a loan originator
Take the time to build trust.
- Hispanics want to be “seen” instead of treated like your next easy business transaction, so get to know them
- Have a physical presence in their community; attend churches, festivals, restaurants, parks, etc.
- Tap into community partners, like libraries, trade organizations and community centers
- Educate them on the homebuying process and their options; host a first-time homebuyer seminar
- Ask questions if you notice cultural differences. It shows the Latino consumer you’re genuinely interested in getting to know them and their culture
- Cater to their method of learning; some prefer online resources while others prefer paper. In most cases, borrowers will review printed collateral with other family members
- Make sure borrowers know how to contact you. Keep in mind, some prefer text/email while others are more comfortable communicating face-to-face or by phone
Make the process a family affair.
- When communicating with borrowers, remember to include and address the other family members involved in the decision-making process
- When hosting meetings, make sure there's enough room around the table and chairs to accommodate the family so everyone can be comfortable and participate
- Make the closing celebratory – it’s a big deal for the entire family. Sharing in their joy will mean a lot to them and could lead to referrals for you
Dive in and engage.
- Join a local NAHREP (National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals) chapter and connect with Hispanic real estate agents
- Share consumer-friendly resources that guide first-time homebuyers – such as Readynest.com, a website that offers a step-by-step overview of the homebuying process in English and Spanish
- Reach out on social media platforms – younger Latinos are very active on social media
- Think outside the box for marketing – try Hispanic radio shows or weekend talk shows on TV
- Leverage Hispanic marketing resources that are designed to educate and inspire new homebuyers and offer materials in both English and Spanish
Prepare yourself for the wave of new homebuyers
With 70% of homeownership growth rate projected to come from Latinos by 20403, it makes sense to learn more about this wonderful and vibrant demographic so you can expand your pool of borrowers.
Of course, I’m biased.
1NAHREP’s 2022 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report
2NAHREP’s 2021 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report
3NAHREP’s 2022 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report