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MA Latino Homebuyer Guide: Stats and Resources

Editor’s Note: The following op-ed reflects MA Latino News’ focus on economic coverage—one of the social determinants of health—among the state’s diverse Hispanic-Latino populations. Economic stability and housing security are essential to one’s life and well-being.

Latino homeownership in Massachusetts has been on the rise in recent years. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos now make up nearly 12% of all homeowners in Massachusetts – and this number will only continue to increase.

Several factors are driving this growth in Latino homeownership within the state. For one, the state’s Latino population, in general, has increased in recent years and currently makes up nearly one-fourth of the state’s population. Furthermore, Latinos in Massachusetts have seen their economic prospects improve over time with increases in median household income and educational level.

Consequently, these two demographic changes have contributed to the overall rise in Latino homeownership within Massachusetts in recent years. This is good news for a historically underserved community in the mainstream real estate market.

If you’re considering buying a home in Massachusetts, the best time is whenever you are ready. The average rent in Boston has been significantly rising in recent years, and this trend appears to continue. Boston’s median rent is $3,772, while the median mortgage payment is $3,500.

Many resources and support programs are available to Hispanic American citizens in Massachusetts, and with the right help, you can turn your American dream into a reality. 

Check out these feel-good statistics for even more motivation:

Latino homeownership general facts:

  • According to a 2019 projection by the Gaston Institute, the Latino population in Massachusetts will grow to over 1.15 million by 2035 – representing around 15.3 percent of the state’s population. Moreover, the projection indicates that existing Latinos in Massachusetts are more likely to contribute to the future population than new immigrants.
  • According to the Urban Institute, Latinos will make up 70% of home ownership growth from 2020-2040, making them the growth engine of American home buying. In fact, Latinos will not only experience a higher homeownership rate over the next couple of decades, but they will also be the leading ethnic or racial group to do so.
  • The years following the 2008-2009 financial crisis and sub-prime mortgage meltdown saw a significant decline in Latino homeownership rates, with data from the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) showing that by 2014, only approximately 45% of the Hispanic population still owned their homes. However, by 2020 that rate had rebounded to around 49%, similar to its pre-crisis peak. An improving job market and lower interest rates contributed to this recoil.
  • NAHREP reports that the average age of Latinos, at 29 years old, is a significant contributing factor to the increase in the homeownership rate. This is because the Latino population is, on average, 14 years younger than the general population.
  • U.S. Census Bureau data shows that in 2020, nearly half (43.6%) of Latino homebuyers were under the age of 34, compared to 37.3% of the general population. Today, nearly one in three Latinos falls into the primary home-buying years demographic (25-44). As the population of other ethnic groups grows older on average, that will result in more Latinos becoming first-time homeowners.

According to the above statistics, the Massachusetts housing market’s future looks promising for Latinos. But what does this situation look like for undocumented immigrants? 

Can undocumented immigrants buy a house in Massachusetts?

The short answer is yes, and the key lies in taxes. 

For the ones who do not have permanent residency, there is still a chance to purchase a home in the state as long as they have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

What is an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)? It is a term used to describe a specific form of identification issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Other types of identification include the Social Security Number (SSN), Employer Identification Number (EIN), Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number, or Preparer Tax Identification Number. The IRS provides an ITIN to those who need a U.S. taxpayer identification number but do not have or do not qualify to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). 

Advantages & Disadvantages of Purchasing a House With a Tax ID Loan:

Advantages

  • Social Security is not required.
  • Green Card is not required.
  • ITIN can be used to refinance mortgages.
  • Having an ITIN can help you build credit.
  • An ITIN loan is better than hard money loan.
  • Applying to an ITIN is easy, and the process is available online. It is easily done by filling out the W-7 form.

Disadvantages

  • Although applying is easy, it can take up to 6 weeks to receive the official ITIN.
  • Higher interest rates.
  • Higher denial rates.
  • Most banks don’t provide Tax ID loans.
  • Tax ID loans require a higher down payment.

How to apply for a Tax ID Loan?

Once having an ITIN, the next step is to apply for a Tax ID loan with a lender. The process requires:

  • Proof of a sustainable and consistent income
  • Income verification
  • Credit history 
  • Down payment funds (usually, Tax ID loans require a 20% down payment, but a real estate agent could help you find a better rate).

It’s essential to prove your finances to show lenders you will be reliable and able to pay your loan payments.

Down Payment Assistance Programs in Massachusetts

If you’re considering purchasing a home, several down payments and closing cost assistance programs available locally and nationwide can help make the process easier. Let’s take a look at some of these programs to see if you qualify.

According to the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS, the median price for a single-family home in Massachusetts was $549,450 in March 2022, which is a 13.3% increase from the year prior.

For first-time home buyers in Massachusetts, saving up for a down payment can seem impossible when prices are constantly on the rise. It’s easy to feel like you’re always playing catch-up, but there are a few down payment assistance programs that can help make up for the difference.

Massachusetts Home Buyer Example:

Home Sale Price$549,450
Minimum down payment (3%)$16,483
20% Down Payment$109,890
Credit Score Average732
Home Buyer GrantA 5% discount, with a cap of $15,000 or $25,000 (MassHousing)

The amount you’ll need to put down for a down payment on a home varies based on home sale price in your state. For conventional mortgages, the minimum down payment is usually 3% – but this may vary depending on your credit score.

Massachusetts First-time Home Buyer Loans

If you’re a first-time home buyer in Massachusetts looking to qualify for a conventional loan, you’ll need to be able to put down 20% to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI). However, don’t worry if you can’t reach that amount. There are still several options available that allow for smaller down payments. 

Many low-down-payment mortgage programs available require a down payment as low as 3%.

  • Conventional 97:

 If you want to apply for a Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae mortgage, you’ll need a down payment of 3% and a credit score of at least 620. And usually, after just a few years of making your mortgage payments, you won’t need to pay for mortgage insurance anymore.

  • FHA Loan:

With a 3.5% down payment and a minimum credit score of 580, this loan is backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). However, you will be required to pay mortgage insurance until you refinance to a different type of mortgage, move, or pay off your loan.

  • VA Loan:

If you’re a veteran, service member, reservist, or member of the National Guard, you may be eligible for a VA loan. VA loans are some of the best, with zero down payment and no ongoing mortgage insurance. Credit score requirements vary by lender, but often 620 is the minimum.

  •  USDA Loan:

If you’re on a low-to-moderate income and looking to buy a home in a designated rural area, you may be eligible for a zero-down USDA loan. Credit score requirements vary by lender, but often 640 is the minimum. You may also be eligible for low mortgage insurance rates. Talk to your lender to see if you qualify.

  • Massachusetts State’s ONE Mortgage Program:

The ONE Mortgage program is a Massachusetts state program that helps first-time homebuyers purchase a home. The program provides a low-interest mortgage loan with no down payment or private mortgage insurance required. The loan is available to first-time homebuyers with certain income and credit requirements. The Massachusetts Housing Partnership, a non-profit organization, administers the program.

Here are a few more things to know about government home loan programs. Firstly, these loans are only available for primary residences – so if you’re looking to buy an investment property or a vacation home, you’ll need to look into other loan options.

Secondly, most programs allow you to use gifted money or down payment assistance (DPA) for your down payment and closing costs. A mortgage loan with such a low-interest rate could enable you to own your new home for a minimal out-of-pocket payment.

You can discuss your financial goals and home-buying plans with your lender if you’re unsure about which mortgage program to choose. The first step in your homeownership journey begins by talking to a real estate agent. A real estate agent can guide you in the direction that will benefit you the most and provide you with the necessary resources to succeed.

Massachusetts First-time Homebuyers Grants

First-time homebuyers in Massachusetts can take advantage of several state and federal support programs designed to help them afford their first home. Your real estate agent or loan officer can assist you in finding programs that may be available to you. 

Are you having trouble finding a down payment? Take a look at our list of affordable housing programs available to you.

  • The Massachusetts Housing Partnership’s “First-Time Homebuyer Grants” program offers grants for qualified first-time home buyers who fall into the low- to the moderate-income category of the “ONE Mortgage” loan program.
  • The Federal Housing Administration also offers a “First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit” program, which provides a tax credit of up to $8,000 for qualified first-time homebuyers. This tax credit is available to buyers looking to purchase a home for the first time and those who have not owned a home in the past three years.
  • MassHousing offers several options, each with unique features and eligibility requirements. Before you close on a loan, you’ll need to complete an approved first-time homebuyer class (also known as Homebuyer counseling). However, attending a free first-time homebuyer workshop makes more sense in many cases before deciding which lender to choose, committing to a buyer’s agent, or looking at homes. This way, you can learn about the entire process and get your questions answered before moving forward.

Attleboro, Barnstable, Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Fall River, Fitchburg, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Peabody, Quabbin, New Bedford, Witten, Taunton, Westfield, and Worcester are some of the gateway cities that allow higher DPA amounts.

Boston Down Payment Assistance Program

As expected, Boston is the most expensive city in Massachusetts for residential property. However, the good news is that the Boston Home Center offers down payment assistance of up to $30,000 to people looking to buy a home in Boston. You must repay this loan in full if you refinance, sell, or no longer occupy the property as your primary residence.

No interest or monthly payments are required.

Eligibility criteria can be found on the website. The income limit is 135% of the area’s median income.

A family of four would pay $101,050 per year in Boston, according to the website.

Worcester Down Payment Assistance Program

In March of 2022, the median list price for a home in Worcester, Massachusetts, was $340,000 – an increase of 15.3% from the previous year.

If you’re looking to buy a home in Worcester, you’ll need to come up with a down payment. The amount you’ll need to put down will depend on the median price of homes in the area. To buy a $340,000 house with a 3% down payment, you’ll need $10,200. On the other side, with a 20% down payment, you’ll need $68,000.

The City of Worcester offers a down payment assistance program for eligible residents. You can get up to $5,000 to cover the affordability gap. There are income and asset limits, so be sure to review all details for all the information you need.

The government provides assistance in the form of a forgivable second mortgage to make homeownership more accessible. This means that borrowers don’t have to make monthly payments or pay interest on the loan, but they will have to repay the loan plus interest if the property is sold or transferred during the first three years of ownership. If borrowers don’t sell, refinance, or move within three years, they won’t owe anything.

Springfield Down Payment Assistance programs

If you want to buy a home in Springfield with a median list price of $239,900 in March 2022, you’ll need to come up with a down payment of between $7,200 (3% down) and $47,980 (20% down).

Springfield’s down payment assistance program offers up to $4,000 in financial assistance for your down payment or closing costs. This program has no monthly payments or interest charges since it is a forgivable second mortgage. Every year, a 20% interest rate is added to the loan and forgiven over five years. During those five years, however, you must repay the outstanding balance if you sell, refinance or move.

Choosing a Massachusetts Real Estate Agent

Trying to buy a property in Massachusetts? With the state’s housing inventory at an all-time low, a professional familiar with current listings can make a world of difference. They can help you find the right property at the right price and negotiate on your behalf to get you the best possible deal.Your real estate agent will be able to show you homes that fit your budget and meet your needs while also providing insight into the bidding process. In such a competitive market, having an expert can make all the difference. If buying a house in Massachusetts is one of your dreams, get in touch with a professional real estate agent today and begin the process.


Juan Cano, originally from Medellin, Colombia, is a real estate agent and investor in the area of Boston, Massachusetts. He has transformed how Latinos see real estate and uncovered the best ways to create wealth for his clients. Juan looks at every client’s situation as if it was his own investment. If he wouldn’t buy a property, he’ll let you know. He believes that alone we can move faster, but together we can get further. Juan offers free consultations for anyone looking to buy or sell a property in the area. Make sure you schedule yours!

To get in touch with Juan Cano, send him a message on Instagram via @realestatejuanc or reach out to him on his website https://www.realestatejuanc.com.


MA Latino News sees the public as more than just the audience; you are contributors. To that end, please take our brief survey to help shape our coverage in producing stories on the social determinants of health: healthcare and quality, neighborhood and built environment, education access and quality, social and community context, and economic stability.

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