Sara Rodriguez is the current President of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) and also CEO/Owner of Titan Title and a partner at Mendez Rodriguez, PLC. Her practice specializes on all matters related to residential and commercial real estate transactions. She served as 2016 President of NAHREP Northern Virginia and has served on the chapter’s board of directors since 2013 in various leadership roles. Additionally, she serves as a national chapter coach.
Since 2005, Mrs. Rodriguez has taught DPOR approved courses through various state-licensed schools in both English and Spanish. She also teaches Continuing Legal Education (CLE) for the National Business Institute in Virginia. Mrs. Rodriguez has appeared as a speaker at multiple events and conventions speaking on a multitude of real estate issues including contract, short sales and foreclosures. She was admitted to the Virginia Bar in 2003 and has practiced immigration law, family law and real estate law.
What is the biggest obstacle for Latinos that hinders them from closing the ethnic homeownership gap? What are the paths to success?
It is important to premise a response emphasizing that despite the surmountable obstacles, Latinos are the only ethnic group to have had 6 years of continued homeownership growth.
By far the greatest obstacle to homeownership is low housing inventory. Over the past decade, Latinos have accounted for over 40 percent of household formations, driving demand for homeownership. However, the supply of housing has not kept up with this demand, resulting in prices that push homeownership out of reach for many and impossible to get an offer accepted for others, despite the low interest rate environment.
One large and lingering obstacle revolves around pandemic recovery. For example, renters have been disproportionately impacted by job losses given that they are more likely to be employed in industries hit hardest by the effects of stay-at-home orders. In a NAHREP survey taken during the height of the pandemic, only 3 out of 5 small landlord respondents expressed some level of confidence in being able to cover their costs over the next three months, and 4 out of 5 said they would be interested in a government loan program to help landlords. If renters cannot pay rent, their path to homeownership will be deterred.
Paths to success include developing the resources and policies that will help us all come out of the pandemic stronger than before. NAHREP developed its own COVID-19 Resource Center – a one-stop for pandemic support information. We also as an industry need to secure a greater number of real estate and mortgage professionals who are culturally and professionally competent to help the growing number of mortgage ready Latino homebuyers. Other possible solutions include promoting policies like the Community Reinvestment Act in order to end housing discrimination known as redlining and expansion of federal tax credits such as Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit (CTC), Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. More path to success policy suggestions can be read on NAHREP Policy Priorities for 2021.
The median age of Latino homeowners is 29.8. Why do you think Latinos are willing to invest in homeownership at an early age?
We are entering “The Age of Latino Homeownership”. This demographic reality will drive more Latinos to invest for the next 20 years and beyond.
According to the Urban Institute, between 2020 and 2040, there will be 6.9 million net new homeowners, a 9 percent increase, thanks to net new household formation. There will be 4.8 million more Hispanic homeowners, 2.7 million more Asian and other homeowners, and 1.2 million more Black homeowners but 1.8 million fewer white homeowners.
The number of Latinos aging into prime home buying years remains the biggest catalyst for homeownership growth. With a median age of 29.8, Latinos are almost 14 years younger than the non-Hispanic White population. In 2020, nearly half (43.6 percent) of Latino homebuyers were under the age of 34, compared to 37.3 percent of the general population. Today, nearly one in three Latinos is currently in the prime home buying years of 25-44.1.
Can you share any highlights from the latest State of Hispanic Homeownership report?
A vital State of Hispanic Homeownership Report (SHHR) theme is the “Mortgage Ready Latino”.
There are 8.3 million Latinos under the age of 45 with the credit characteristics to potentially qualify for a mortgage. These “Mortgage Ready” Latinos create substantial opportunity for additional homeownership growth over the next few years. While Latinos tend to be concentrated in high-cost areas, the growth is taking place in non-traditional markets as Latinos are willing to relocate to areas rich with housing and employment opportunities. In 2019, the top two fastest growth markets for Latino homebuyers were Durham/Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Boise, Idaho both with a year-over-year growth rate of more than 40 percent.
How did you create a culture of engagement in this virtual, pandemic year amongst your colleagues at Titan Title and within the NAHREP organization?
For Titan Title we were always considered essential in our state, we never shut down and were able to go fully virtual. With some staff virtual and some staff in the office, we had to make sure everyone felt comfortable, safe and engaged. Just like with NAHREP we achieved this with open and constant communication, continuous feedback from our clients and staff and a focus that we were helping families achieve their homeownership dream in the middle of a very difficult time.
As the largest professional Latino organization in the country, we called on our resilience and stayed true to the NAHREP 10 Disciplines.
NAHREP is a familia with more than 30 professional staff who thrive on constant communication; not just Zoom calls, but continually supporting member families and communities. Especially during the height of the pandemic, and we prioritize showing gratitude to our partners. During this past tumultuous year, we combined our resources and innovated to hold dozens of virtual events and a National Conference and Policy Summit that is recognized by many as being one of the most innovative during the pandemic. We also produced creative videos that speak to our mission.
NAHREP hosted its National Convention & Housing Policy Summit last month. Are there any surprising insights you gleaned from the event?
There are so many highlights from our NAHREP 2021 Convention and Policy Summit. For me personally it was being able to have a conversation with Chef José Andrés about Defining a New Standard in Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy. Chef Andrés is a Time Magazine Top 100 Influencer, Entrepreneur, Humanitarian. His words and insights about life, work and family struck a chord with me and I am sure with many of our participants. One quote I will never forget was, “We need to increase homeownership because owning a home and being able to afford that home and a good job and taking care of your family it’s very important to keep that kind of path for many more Latino men and women.”