DES MOINES, Iowa (9/5/14)--While many young Hispanics believe homeownership is part of the American dream, the majority prioritize holding a job and financial stability over buying a home, according to Miriam De Dios, CEO of Coopera, an organization that works with credit unions to help provide financial services to the Hispanic community.
De Dios, who sat down with the Latin Post recently, says that Hispanics in particular are more interested in purchasing a home than the rest of the millennial population, but they see homeownership as a long-term goal (Latin Post Sept. 3).
At more than 21 million people, Hispanic-Americans comprise about 21% of the millennial population (News Now June 13).
"Going to college and starting my career were my top priorities," De Dios told the Latin Post. "I didn't buy my first home until I felt I was in a good financial position to do so, and that was at the age of 25."
De Dios also said that Hispanic millennials on average have $10,000 less in debt than the non-Hispanic population, with 31% having no debt at all.
One reason for this is that Hispanic millennials tend to live with their parents longer. About 45% of Hispanics ages 18-34 live at home with their parents and are 20% more likely to live in multigenerational homes than whites.
"Another interesting factor, Hispanic millennials' preparedness to buy homes has to do with our views on money," De Dios said. "Many Hispanic millennials, including myself, learned to be averse to debt from parents, especially if our parents are first-generation Hispanic immigrants.
"We grew up in households where if we did not have the cash to pay for things, we often didn't buy it."
Despite what appears to be more restraint from the Hispanic population, however, some believe that Hispanic millennials are still partly carrying the housing market (Latin Post).
The National Association of Realtors has said that millennials claim the largest share of recently purchased homes, with Hispanics making up about 20% of that total.
Still, nationwide, many Hispanics are underbanked or unbanked, particularly those who are foreign-born. And without the support from a financial institution like a credit union, which can help with savings, checking and building a solid credit score, homebuying can become a real obstacle.
To address this, De Dios cites credit unions as institutions Hispanics should look to as first-time homebuyers.
Credit unions can help with "financing options, how to avoid predatory lenders, how to evaluate a home, how to make an offer, and who you need to work with, including real estate agents, lenders, home inspectors, insurance agents, etc., among other helpful advice," De Dios said.
The member-owner institutions, in turn, also should not hesitate to reach out and serve the Hispanic community, De Dios argued in a recent white paper from Coopera.
Even before immigrants achieve citizenship, De Dios said, credit unions can serve them.
"The Equal Opportunity Act pushes for financial institutions and other organizations to 'encourage members of traditionally disadvantaged groups to apply for credit, especially groups that might not normally seek credit from that creditor,'" De Dios said. "Immigrants, who may carry fears about the trustworthiness of financial institutions, certainly fit this bill."