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Realty Views By Terry Ross

Diversity Is A Key Ingredient In The New World Of HomebuyingTerry Ross, Realty Views

June 18th, 2013 – Just like technology and the new economy has changed the way people buy homes, the demographic makeup of our nation is changing and with it the way that buyers perceive a home.

A national survey conducted for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate by Wakefield Research used an email invitation and an online survey to reach 1,200 Americans, with an equal distribution that represented 400 Caucasian adults, 400 Hispanic American adults and 400 African-American adults, ages 18 and older. It revealed many similarities between the groups – but also some important differences. Quotas were set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the three largest population groups within the U.S.

“America has a proud heritage of diversity, and the notion that our client base will continue to change and evolve should be apparent to everyone in the real estate industry,” said Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC in announcing the survey results. “It’s important that we understand all that we can about our consumers to best serve them and that includes understanding them not only from a cultural standpoint, but with regard for their individual values, aspirations and needs.”

A common thread among all of the groups is that they are optimistic about the next generation of homeowners, and furthermore, a majority believes their children or future children will have a home of their own before the age they did (Hispanic 78 percent; African American 74 percent; Caucasian 56 percent). The survey respondents across all ethnic lines believe that their children’s homes will be the same size or bigger than theirs (Hispanic 90 percent; African American 83 percent; Caucasian 73 percent). Each group also views homeownership as a lifelong goal. And, homeownership is considered to be the biggest indicator of status by all groups: African Americans (78 percent), Hispanics (78 percent) and Caucasians (65 percent).

Each group believes that a home is not simply an indicator of success but that it is a solid long-term investment. More than any other group, Hispanics are planning ahead for homeownership and prioritizing this dream over retirement. More than half of the Hispanics (52 percent) surveyed, who do not currently own their own home, say they are focused on saving for a down payment as compared to 46 percent of African Americans and 44 percent of Caucasians who do not currently own their own home.

A report earlier this year released by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals said Hispanics are the fastest growing group of first-time homebuyers with enough purchasing power to push the U.S. housing recovery into high gear now, as long as inventory shortages and investor-favored regulations don’t hamper them.

Each ethnic group surveyed leaned largely toward selecting a home in the suburbs. Research indicates that suburban homes are very much in demand among today’s house hunters. Among those surveyed, 59 percent of African Americans, 55 percent of Caucasians and 50 percent of Hispanic Americans would select the suburbs as the preferred location for their ideal home.

All of the groups seemed to indicate a split preference for better location as opposed to a superior house in a less desirable neighborhood. A slight majority of respondents (56 percent Caucasian; 50 percent African American; 50 percent Hispanic) said they would rather live in the neighborhood of their dreams, even if they were not head over heels about their house.

Purchasing a home near where they grew up presented some differences among the groups, according to the poll. A majority of Hispanics (56 percent) and African Americans (53 percent) prefer to stay in the same state in which they grew up. Caucasians (56 percent), however, preferred to remain in the same broad region of the country where they grew up. In fact, 1 in 3 Hispanics say that their ideal home is located within their hometown, while only 20 percent of Caucasians share the same sentiment.

It appears that the trend of multigenerational families under one roof is continuing to expand among some groups more than others. Results showed that 63 percent of Hispanics and 59 percent of African Americans would likely have their parents, grandparents or other extended family members living with them at some point, while only 43 percent of Caucasians shared that sentiment.

This has also had an impact on house hunting with 89 percent of African Americans, 89 percent of Hispanics and 88 percent of Caucasians anticipating such living arrangements, saying they would look for features that could accommodate additional family members such as separate “in-law” quarters.

Just like the more obvious trends that have been a result of technology, financial and lender considerations, the cultural needs of various groups are sure to make their impact felt in the real estate industry, too.

(Terry Ross, the broker-owner of TR Properties, will answer any questions about today’s real estate market. E-mail questions to Realty Views at terryross1@cs.com or call  562/498-1049.)