SAN DIEGO — A study conducted nationwide by Zillow found that Hispanics are buying homes at a higher rate than anyone else in the United States, but experts indicate there is still a long way to go for Hispanics to catch up with other groups when it comes to home ownership.

In San Diego, where owning a home is no small feat, Zillow found that Hispanics make up less than 40% of homeowners, but experts indicate that until there is more affordable options, it could take decades to close the gap.

“They [Hispanics] are coming out of the woods and able to get back into the mortgage market,” said Jeff Tucker, an economist at Zillow.

Jeff said it is a sign Hispanics are bouncing back since the great recession in 2007, when the Hispanic population was hit hard with foreclosures.

According to Zillow, of the homes foreclosed in 2007 through December 2015, 19.4% were within Hispanic communities – a high number when considering that only 9.6% of all homes in the country are in Hispanic neighborhoods.

"Now that the economy is really providing wage growth and job growth for every sector of the economy that is making it much more possible for people from all walks of life to get into home ownership,” said Jeff.

Despite the recent gains, Jeff warned there is a lot of catching up to do. For example, mortgage denial rates for Hispanics fell from 31.3% in 2008 to 15.5% in 2016. That is still nearly double the 8.1% denial rate for Caucasian mortgage applicants. Experts attribute that to differences in income, debt levels, credit scores, and savings.  

Sandra Bowers works with Hope Through Housing, a foundation focused on helping people navigate the home-buying process. According to Sandra, 80% of her case load is made up of Hispanics, and while there are roadblocks, she too has seen the turnaround.

“It is absolutely getting better,” she said.

In terms of bridging the gap, Jeff and Sandra said having more affordable options, as well as assistance programs will be crucial.

The study also revealed that 16% of Hispanics surveyed said they have been treated differently in their search for a house because of their race.