by Jacob Passy

The rate of Hispanic homeownership fell in 2014 to its lowest level since 1999, according to data released by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

NAHREP’s State of Hispanic Homeownership Report found that the only 45.4% of Hispanics owned a home in 2014, despite a net increase of 54,000 Hispanic-owner households. In 2013, the rate was 46.1%.

The drop occurred in part due to the growth of Hispanic household formations. In 2014, Hispanics accounted for 40% of all new households in the U.S. Still, NAHREP’s report pointed to different barriers that affected Hispanic homeownership.

In a survey, 60% of leading Hispanic real estate agents polled cited narrower access to mortgage credit as the chief barrier faced by would-be Hispanic homeowners. Other barriers found in the report include affordability and inventory shortages.

While 2014 had its hurdles for Hispanic homebuyers, signs of optimism remained, NAHREP found.

The same survey of real estate agents found that 65% of them believed 2015 would be a stronger year for these homebuyers. In a separate study, 48% of Hispanic renters said they believed now is a good time to buy a home.