Hispanic homeownership reached historic highs before COVID-19. What now?

by Julie Atencia

In April, the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals released their annual State of Hispanic Homeownership report with positive data from 2019 and bright predictions for 2020. The report found that last year, the Hispanic homeownership rate increased to 47.5%, making this the only demographic group to clock five consecutive years of gains in the country.

Now in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, can the positive momentum continue?

Rosa Canao, the president of the Fort Lauderdale chapter of NAHREP, noted that Hispanic people appear to be particularly vulnerable to the various effects of COVID-19.

“Early data has already shown that Hispanics have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Hispanics are highly concentrated in industries that are experiencing the greatest number of layoffs, such as the service and hospitality industries,” Canao said. “Additionally, they tend to out-index other demographic groups when it comes to being self-employed and working in the gig economy. These factors have led Hispanics to report layoffs, pay and hour reductions, and concerns surrounding personal finances, more so than other demographics.” 

Even with the current headwinds, Canao expects Hispanic homeownership to continue growing.

“As Hispanics continue to age and form new households, homeownership growth is bound to continue,” said Canao. “Considering that one-in-three Hispanics — nearly 20 million — are under the age of 18, and Latinos are driving the growth in household formations, we are confident Hispanics will continue to drive homeownership well into the future.”

While the market is still uncertain, Ivonne Payes, president of the Chicago chapter of NAHREP, said she is still seeing robust demand from Hispanic clients looking to purchase properties.

“We have seen an actual increase in purchases during this time. Families are coming together to help each other buy their homes during this low-rate market timeframe,” Payes said. “We are working hard to help and meet everyone’s needs during this time.”

While the NAHREP report was compiled prior to the pandemic, the association did note that it will be “the Latino community’s youth, strong work ethic and desire for homeownership that will once again drive homeownership growth as the country rebounds from a post-pandemic economy.”

Indeed, in the middle of an unpredictable crisis, Canao noted that past downturns can offer insight into the strength of household formation trends among this group.

“Hispanics will recuperate and come out of this pandemic stronger. We saw it during the last housing crisis when Latinos were the first ethnic demographic to increase their homeownership rate beyond the pre-crisis peak,” said Canao. “What is even more remarkable is that, during this period, Hispanic household formation rates were also increasing faster than any other group.”

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