Florida company helps Hispanics navigate stiff underwriting criteria

Kissimmee, FLA, May 06, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — En Español

May 6, 2022, Kissimmee, FLA – A unique bilingual center designed to help Hispanics navigate the intricacies of applying for a home loan in Central Florida is now open in Kissimmee, FLA.   Ameriuno’s “Home Opportunity Center” serves as a resource for prospective buyers as they navigate a financing process that poses challenges to Hispanics who make and save money in nontraditional ways.

The 1,500 sq. ft. center opened its doors in the Loop Mall at 3226 N. John Young Parkway.  During a presentation to media, Ameriuno Managing Director Andy Insua explained that existing underwriting guidelines fail to consider financial strategies that are common in the Hispanic community even though many applicants have sufficient cash flow.

“The way a loan application is evaluated is based on traditional employment history,  credit scores, verifiable assets and length of employment.   It does not take into account the norms and behaviors of Hispanics that do not necessarily fit into that box.    As a result, these financial and community behaviors are counted against them,” said Insua,  who also gave the example of many Hispanics’ preference of cash over credit. Since many are reluctant to use credit cards, their credit history is weak or nonexistent resulting in low credit scores. In addition, Insua said, many Hispanic loan applicants hold several jobs or have multigenerational family members contributing to household expenses.

“The cash flow is there but the way it is obtained is not recognized by the current system,” Insua explained.  “Our Ameriuno staff takes the time to educate customers on how they can build up their credit in order to qualify for a home. Equipped with this information, they are in a much stronger position when it comes to making offers.”

Insua cited data based on Ameriuno’s own experience working with applicants in the Orlando market over the last year that showed that Hispanic loan applicants are approved only 15 percent of the time while 68 percent require “nurturing” or education about what is required to be approved under traditional underwriting guidelines.   The rest simply walk away, discouraged by a complex process that requires Spanish speaking buyers to sign documents written in English.

At the Center, Ameriuno staff provide financial education on the ins and outs of loan applications, credit scores, down payments, competitive cash solutions and more in a relaxed, welcoming setting that resembles more of a community or family center. Post-loan programs maintain the relationship so clients can take advantage of future homebuying opportunities.

By emphasizing personalized, face-to-face service with clients in a family-oriented setting, the Home Opportunity Center is bucking the trend of online mortgage banking.

“At a time when most mortgage companies are moving their operations online, Ameriuno is doing the opposite by encouraging our customers to come into the Home Opportunity Center, where we can learn more about their goals and help them throughout the process. And we encourage them to bring their family members and those involved in the decision-making process,”  Insua said.  There is even space dedicated for kids and others family members who might accompany the principal buyer.

The concept aims to close the gap in Hispanic homeownership. Currently, approximately 50 percent of Hispanics own their home compared to 73 percent of non-Hispanic whites. But that trend is expected to change dramatically. Forecasters predict Hispanic buyers will comprise 70% of homeownership growth from 2020 to 2040.

The Center is outfitted with home buying information. Free classes are held to walk potential buyers through every step of the process, including helpful information about loan qualifications, credit scores, appraisals, and more. “We provide answers to just about every question they may have about what’s involved in purchasing a home,” Insua says. Meanwhile, a nearby game room keeps kids occupied while their parents work out a homebuying strategy.

And it works. Plans are in the works to build the next Home Opportunity Centers in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

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