Real Estate Signs
Real estate signs advertise new homes for sale in multiple new developments in York County, South Carolina, U.S., February 29, 2020. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Julia Ramírez spends her free time landscaping her home in Provo, Utah. Ramírez and her husband, Efrain, were able to achieve a dream that had eluded them for many years. The couple immigrated from Michoacan, Mexico, and first settled in Anaheim, California, where they lived for years until Efrain's sister, Arcelia, convinced them to move to the Beehive State.

"Utah, where is that?" was the first question that came out of Efrain's mouth when he heard his sister's proposal on the other end of the phone. "You can buy a house here because it is cheaper than in California," Arcelia, who had moved to Salt Lake City decades ago, insisted. Within a year of that conversation, Efrain moved to his new destination.

Real estate prices were skyrocketing in California, and the desire to own his "little piece of America" convinced him to leave his other family and friends in Anaheim and try his luck where his sister and her husband, Jose, were already homeowners.

Efrain and Julia's case is part of a trend that is becoming more pronounced in several regions with large Latino immigrant populations. Many are leaving states like New York and New Jersey, where they first arrived, to move where real estate is more affordable.

The figures speak for themselves. According to data from the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), a home in Anaheim had a median value of $748,700 in 2021, while in Provo the cost was about $459,500.

In the Provo area, there was a 37.1 percent increase in new Latino homeownership between 2019 and 2021. That number that is much higher than the other major areas of the state, which had an increase of only 20.4% to 25.4%.

Cecilia Cepeda of Fairfax Realty Premier, which operates in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington Metropolitan area, told that she has recently helped several Dominican clients who have left New York State to buy properties in areas such as Prince George's County in the Washington DC suburbs. Real estate there is not as expensive and there is a large Latino community where they feel comfortable and can easily find work in the nation's capital, she said.

The Latino community is particularly dense in Prince George's, Montgomery, Frederick, Baltimore-Columbia, and Towson counties. These counties are less than an hour from Washington DC, have toll-free highways and are served by the Metro service to some areas and a train that connects Baltimore to Washington at a popular price.

This makes it a very desirable destination for Hispanics who find many job opportunities, easy access, and better housing prices.

Cepeda's statement is supported by the same NAHREP statistics: while in New York a house cost an average of $533,700 in 2021, in certain areas of Maryland they were selling for up to $351,000.

Cepeda, who has been a real estate agent in the area for more than 10 years, has many Latino clients looking for representation to buy or sell their properties, adding that there is also a trend to leave central Montgomery County in Maryland because not only has the price of properties gone up, but there are no more properties for sale.

"When the listing agent puts a house on the market, there are about 20 offers that immediately fall through, making it almost like an auction, forcing us to make offers at a higher price than the asking price, and even then, many times it is awarded to another buyer," he said.

He added that "this makes housing very expensive, leaving many members of our community without options in the area and forcing them to look to other states or areas away from the city.

Many of my Latino clients who work in Washington DC buy homes in Laurel County or Frederick County, he added.

Another area with a high concentration of Central American immigrants in the Washington suburbs is the neighboring state of Northern Virginia. Decades ago, an exodus of Salvadorans came to this area because of the civil war and settled in places like Fairfax, Arlington, and Alexandria counties, but over time, real estate prices rose. The new waves of immigrants, now mostly fleeing gang violence, moved farther south, and towns like Manassas and Woodbridge were started featuring restaurants selling pupusas, nightclubs with bachata dancing, Catholic churches with masses in Spanish, and soccer fields in recreational parks.

Now, over time, homes began to rise in price, forcing many to look a little farther down the road to the town of Fredericksburg, which is equidistant between Washington DC and the city of Richmond.

South Carolina House
A home stands behind a real estate sign in a new development in York County, South Carolina LUCAS JACKSON/Reuters

Martha Tavares with GFH Realty, a realtor who has been in the business for more than 30 years, told that this is an area where you can get larger homes for a lower price than in Woodbridge. She has moved to the city herself and has many Latino clients who are buying in this area.

According to NAHREP, the average home in the Washington DC area was worth about half a million dollars in 2021, and further south it was going for $200,000 less.

Giovanna Maldonado of Relatypath in the state of Utah told that she has had clients coming from California, but that this is not a new trend and has been going on for some time.

She added that real estate prices in Utah are lower than in California, but that is not the only reason they are moving: such as jobs, cost of living or a more familiar environment are factors as well.

Other areas that could be included in the trend of migration to buy a home are the Yakima County area in Washington State and the Triangle in North Carolina. In the latter state, the Latino or Hispanic homeownership rate will increase by 4.4 percentage points from 2010 to 2020, with 47% of Latino households owning a home.

According to NAHREP statistics, the median price in the North Carolina Triangle sector in 2021 was $286,600.

Latinos continue to believe that buying a home is a major accomplishment in their lives and therefore remain a vital part of the U.S. real estate economy and, according to other analysts, the driving force in the real estate market. According to the same NAHREP data

the Hispanic homeownership rate rose to 48.6 percent in 2022, marking eight years of steady homeownership growth. Latinos still managed to add a net 349,000 homeowner households and form 628,000 new households, both among the largest single-year increases for Latinos in the past decade.

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