For generations, homeownership has been synonymous with the idea of achieving the American Dream. This has certainly been true for many Hispanic Americans, who have used their homes to establish roots in their communities for their families.
More than 8.8 million Latino families now own homes across the U.S., according to a recent report from the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. The Latino homeownership rate is now more than 48%, a number that has been on the rise for the last several years.
Homebuying experts say that many more Latinos are interested in buying homes but have pushed off the decision because they’re unsure if they can afford it or because they would like more education about the process.
AmeriSave Mortgage Corp., one of the nation’s fastest-growing home loan providers, offers the following five tips for first-time homebuyers.
1. Understand what your legal residency status enables you to do – You’re not required to be a U.S. citizen to qualify for a home loan. Anyone with permanent status – including certain non-U.S. citizen buyers – is eligible for a home loan. The best resource to determine what you can do is the comprehensive guide published by Fannie Mae.
2. Calculate what you can afford – The amount you can borrow is determined primarily by your monthly income and credit score. Typically, people with higher incomes and credit scores can borrow more than those with lower incomes and lower credit scores. Online calculators can provide a general estimate of how much home you can afford and help you estimate your potential monthly mortgage payment. Not sure of your credit score? You can use a service like Experian, Equifax or TransUnion to learn where you stand.
3. Report verifiable income – Any income you report to a lender must be verifiable taxable income. Cash income is not considered part of your earnings, so if you’re being paid by an employer in cash, you should ask to be paid via their payroll system, either in the form of a physical check or direct deposit. Similarly, if a large portion of your income comes from cash tips, talk with your employer about ensuring those tips are appropriately reflected on your W2.
4. Don’t forget about the down payment – Regardless of how much you plan to borrow, you’ll need to set aside funds for a down payment and closing costs. Most lenders require 3% to 5% of the total purchase price, at minimum. Any funds you use for this purpose must be in a bank account for at least 60 days prior to underwriting, so make sure you deposit any cash that you receive from working side jobs, from gifts, etc., before starting the mortgage process. Many cities and counties across the U.S. also offer down payment assistance programs, which are intended to help first-time homeowners. Research these programs online as a first step.
5. Do your research and partner with a qualified and experienced loan originator – Purchasing a home is the biggest financial decision most people will ever make, so it’s important to have trust in and be comfortable with your mortgage lender. You can verify your lender is authorized to do business in your state through the free NMLS® (Nationwide Multistate Licensing System) Consumer AccessSM page. If English is not your preferred language, many mortgage lenders, including AmeriSave Mortgage, have Spanish-speaking loan originators who can guide you through the entire process and provide forms you can complete in Spanish.
The prospect of buying a home can be daunting. But a qualified, experienced lender can make the process much simpler and less stressful. For more information, visit www.AmeriSave.com.