Fannie Mae’s 2003 National Housing Survey found that while most Americans view homeownership as a safe investment, four gaps must be addressed to close the minority homeownership gap.

The survey also found that having accurate information about the home-buying process is a significant roadblock to homeownership in households where Spanish is the primary language.

The four gaps include:

Information gap. The survey illustrated a significant difference between the general public and minority communities the level of accurate information about the home buying process. The gap was particularly pronounced among Hispanics whose dominant language is Spanish.

Only 23 percent of African Americans and 18 percent of Spanish-speaking Hispanics said they had an above average understanding of the home buying process. That’s compared with a third of the Americans overall.

Affordability gap. The survey found a divide among renters, lower-income Americans and those who began the home buying process but did not complete it and homeowners and the general public. About 35 percent of renters have tried to become homeowners but have not succeeded. Affordability was the most common reason cited.

More than half of those who attempted to purchase a home said the reason they failed to complete the process was because it was more expensive than they originally thought, or they had concerns about getting a low-cost mortgage given their credit history.

Credit gap. The survey found many Americans are concerned their credit histories will make it difficult to secure a mortgage for the purchase of a home. Among the general public, 40 percent say they have a great deal of experience with credit and debt, 38 percent report some experience, and 21 percent have little or no experience with credit and debt.

African Americans and English Hispanics report about the same level of experience with credit and debt as the general public, but only 15 percent of Spanish-speaking Hispanics report having a great deal of experience. Credit concerns are the second leading reason renters overall offered for not having bought a home.

Confidence gap. The survey found an overall confidence gap between minorities and the general public over whether they could successfully complete the home buying process. The gap is magnified by concerns over factors such as discrimination and future home price increases.

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