By Susan Vela

ROCKFORD — Claudia Arellano’s Mexican mother had to rent a home on Rockford’s west side for years before she could purchase the residence in a struggling neighborhood.

Arellano strived to do better.
A 35-year-old office manager, she saw other Hispanics she knew were pursuing the American Dream, getting good jobs and buying their own homes.

They encouraged her to do the same. Arellano, a mother of two, bought her own home near Alpine Park last November.

She’s part of a trend of rising Hispanic home ownership in the greater Rockford region and across the nation.

Hispanics purchased 77 percent more homes last year than in 2011, according to the Rockford Area Realtors. Those 322 homes generated $34.6 million in sales, or about 80 percent more than the 2011 mark.

During those same years, their share of the homebuyers’ market grew 2 percentage points to 7.7 percent of the 4,184 homes sold in 2015. Caucasians stayed steady at buying about 85 percent of the 4,184 homes sold. The 3,556 homes sold to Caucasians generated $382.1 million in sales in 2015.

Realtors expect Hispanics’ home-buying power to keep growing because of the growth in Hispanic population and the affordability of Rockford homes.

Steve Bois, chief executive officer of the Realtors association, said potential homebuyers still are challenged to prove their work and credit history. “(But for) anyone who has immigrated, home ownership is still the American Dream,” he said.

Rockford’s Hispanic population totaled 25,819, or 17 percent of the total population, in 2014, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, up from 23,081, or 15 percent in 2010.

“Really, it’s the best feeling in the world to be able to say I own a home,” Arellano said. “The greatest thing is being able to have my own space and have my family over and know that my kids have a place to run around in.

“Buying a home is definitely the best purchase anyone can make. Honestly, it’s worth it. It’s stressful, but it definitely is worth it in the end.”

Jason Riveiro, chief marketing officer for the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, said more Hispanics are buying homes in non-traditional markets in New York, Texas, Florida and Georgia.

Like Rockford, these communities have first-, second- and third-generation Hispanics, along with newcomer Hispanics from such places as Central and South America.

“The immigration market (is) going to these non-traditional markets (and) not going to the Houstons and the Miamis,” Riveiro said.

Rockford real estate agent Miguel Lobato has sold homes in the region, mainly to Hispanics, for decades. He said potential buyers preferred the historically Hispanic southwest side neighborhoods centered around South Main, Montague and Morgan streets, along with South Central Avenue. That’s where other Hispanics already lived.

When he saw them hit by the Great Recession. Across the nation, the number of Hispanic home owners shrunk from 6.3 million in 2008 to 6.25 million in 2009 and 6.2 million in 2010 before there was a resurgence, according to the State of Hispanic Homeownership Report in 2015 co-authored by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals and the Hispanic Wealth Project.

“I think it’s coming back,” Lobato said. “I’ve seen it increasing quite a bit obviously. It’s due to the population increasing. It’s due to the affordability of Rockford.”

Only 7 percent of real estate agents and 4 percent of mortgage professionals are Hispanic, according to the report. Because some Hispanics still suffer from language barriers, Lobato advises them to be well informed before they sign documents.

Last year, Lobato sold 75 houses, mainly to Hispanic customers, through the broker American Dwellings. This year, he’s on pace to sell at least 90.

“I see the trend continue going up,” he said.

Susan Vela: 815-987-1392;; @susanvela

Source: Rockford Area Realtors

*Source: Rockford Area Realtors

*Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Hispanic owner households

*Source: Hispanic Wealth Project and National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals