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Home arrow Real Estate News arrow General News arrow Immigrants are Untapped Real Estate Market

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Immigrants are Untapped Real Estate Market
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Tuesday, 05 September 2006

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The ownership rate among all American households was 69.8 percent last year. The ownership rate among all minorities was just over 50 percent, compared with about 75 percent for non-Hispanic whites.  But that is starting to change. According to the Harvard report, home ownership among both Hispanics and Asian-Americans jumped by nearly 10 percentage points from 1995 through last year, as both groups grow more affluent.

Despite increased buying power mortgage executives and advocates for minority groups said that recent immigrants found the practicalities of American mortgages and homeownership at odds with what they experienced in their countries of origin.

Other countries also have different practices when it comes to mortgages. For instance, according to Asian Americans for Equality, an advocacy group in New York, in many Asian countries — China, for instance — the minimum down payment for a mortgage is typically more than 50 percent, so underwriting methods are different.

The biggest institutions in the lending industry are starting to do just that. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that help finance most mortgages in the United States, have recently begun studying the new approaches to homeownership among immigrant populations.

Fannie Mae, for example, is looking at ways to track the roughly $40 billion sent by Hispanic immigrants to relatives back home each year. By doing so, Fannie Mae hopes it can show lenders that the fiscal responsibility those payments demonstrate would extend to mortgage payments.

Harold Lewis, the senior vice president for community and multicultural lending, said Fannie Mae was also looking more closely at how Asian immigrants approach housing. He said they may pool their incomes to buy a house, perhaps because they are not aware that they can individually qualify for mortgages with a low down payment, or because they do not see the benefit of securing a mortgage with a smaller down payment.


Edwina Baniqued

 

 
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