Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hispanic group sets up ethical princples to protect minority buyers.

Code calls for stronger licensing, bilingual guide to home buying.

By Kathleen Lynn


Sunday, November 18, 2007

HACKENSACK, N.J. — Buying a house can be intimidating for anyone.

But it's especially difficult for Latino buyers, according to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. The group recently announced a set of ethical principles, called a code of trust, aimed at protecting those buyers.

The organization's code calls for stronger licensing and industry education requirements; quality controls to ensure that all qualifying consumers are offered a prime loan; increased education so that borrowers can make informed decisions; and development of a bilingual guide to home buying.

"Shrinking values and the current credit crunch threaten to undermine the steady home ownership gains our community has made in the past 20 years," said association President and CEO Tim Sandos. "For those borrowers who have fallen prey to unethical practitioners, the American dream has become a nightmare. Our newly adopted code of trust ensures that our members set an example for the industry as a whole."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about half of Latinos own their homes. Although that number has edged up slightly in recent years, it's still well below the 75 percent home ownership rate among non-Hispanic whites.

And, according to the association, Latinos are especially vulnerable to predatory loan practices.

Nearly 50 percent of Latino homeowners who have subprime mortgages, which carry higher interest rates, would have qualified for a prime loan, the group said.

The group also said foreclosures among Hispanics are expected to reach nearly $25 billion in 2007 and $52 billion in 2008.

Carlos Mesa, director of education at Unicasa in Passaic, N.J., said he is concerned about foreclosures. But he predicted that many Hispanics would fight hard and take second jobs to keep their homes.

"For a lot of Latinos, their home is their main investment," he said. NAHREP.org

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