EL SOBRANTE -- As home prices in the Bay Area continue to remain high, the rate of homeownership among Latinos has declined, even though it has risen nationally.
On a sunny day in El Sobrante, Lizbeth Alarcon hoped to help Alejandro Salvio and his family find their next home.
They currently own, but are looking for a bigger place. The way to do that, in their case, meant looking in El Sobrante where they could get more bang for their buck.
"It's much more affordable," Alarcon said. "This is why we're here showing this house. It's a little bit bigger than what they have now."
Salvio says leaving the Bay Area wasn't an option.
"I don't want to leave right now. It's not in our plans," he said.
Alarcon says she has plenty of clients who are looking to buy a home, but the majority of them are Latino buyers looking to do so outside of the Bay Area, because of a lack of affordability.
"A lot of them decide to move a little bit further," she said. "We're selling a lot to Sacramento, they're going to Solano County."
Nationally, the Hispanic homeownership rate is growing. But in the Bay Area, it's shrinking. The Latino homeownership rate in the Bay Area was 5% lower in 2020 than it was in 2010, according to an analysis of census data by progressive advocacy group California Forward.
The three least affordable markets for Latinos were the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City market, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara market, and the Oakland-Berkeley-Livermore market, according to a the 2022 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP).
"A lot of friends and family are just looking for better prices, so they move out to other states where houses are more affordable than here in California," Salvio said.
Alarcon says affordability is the biggest barrier. But often times, a perceived lack of affordability is a major hurdle for potential homebuyers, she explained. Many people see high prices and immediately think they can't afford to buy anything here, when Alarcon says there are often ways they can.
"You don't need 20% down anymore to buy a house. A lot of us, it's embedded in our brains from early on that if you do not have 20% you cannot buy," she said. "We all need to get together and collaborate as all Latinos and help – especially the Latino realtors, I think – to help our community."
Doing that for her community is something she takes a lot of pride in.
"It's very empowering," she said. "A lot of these clients when you give them their keys – they cry – because they think they never were going to achieve this."
Alarcon knows achieving homeownership is a big deal. While to many this is an intimidating market, she hopes to show people that buying a home here is often more possible than they'd think. It just might take some extra creativity.
"My Latinos – it is possible to definitely buy. There are so many programs out there. Don't give up," she said. "Keep on working. Connect with the right people that will help you achieve that American dream."
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