Recently there has been a bevy of reports about the continuing real estate and mortgage crisis. Many may conclude that the word “crisis” probably no longer applies, especially because of the rescue programs the government instituted to shore up the economy. But wait a minute, one thing rescuing the economy through aid to “Wall Street” – helping the largest banks, e.g., Bank of America, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan, Chase, etc., it is quite another to impact “Main Street,” where you and I live, more so, if English, if it is spoken at all, is spoken as a second language, creating the breeding grounds for the resulting abuses against Latinos.
Latinos in California, represent about 36 percent of the population, and for the period between 2004 and 2008, at the height of the real estate buying frenzy, received nearly 30 percent of the originated ("higher-rate") home loans. However, Latinos also fell victim to foreclosures at a higher rate than most – nearly 47 percent of these households faced foreclosure!
According to a report from the Centers for Responsible Lending, 48.2 percent of the total homes in foreclosure in California from 2006 to 2009 were of Latino homeowners, and nearly 35 percent of these were concentrated in the state's Central Valley, the area between Sacramento and San Joaquin counties.
Obviously, there is a big problem here, and one that has no quick solution. The wave of foreclosures is forecasted to continue, and alas, with these findings confirming the inequities of the way houses were sold and the alarming concentration of the abuses of any one segment of the population, it is paramount that meaningful change take place to prevent a recurrence of such abuses.
Dealing with these ongoing trends in real estate, it is important to help Latinos understand where they stand, if they are to get out of their immediate predicament in the best fashion, particularly because they continue to be victimized only now through mortgage rescue schemes. It is important that anyone who wants to buy a house be better informed and, perhaps, required to take some primer on the way houses are bought and loans underwritten – in their native tongue, if need be, to avoid a recurrence of both the conditions leading to these types of events or facilitate such abuses.
Likewise, the real estate professional must be more than just a salesperson to an unsuspecting customer, s/he should be an advocate of fair dealings to all buyers, regardless of their heritage or surname, in this way, we all will benefit and find that the repeat and referral business we'll derive from doing so will be of a happier sort instead of the sorry one that foreclosure represents for all.