Lost in Translation: Financial Services for Consumers with Limited English Proficiency

Westlaw Journal
8 minute read | May.18.2015

A 2013 Rutgers University study indicates that the rate of homeownership among minority and immigrant borrowers is trending up, but it still lags the rate among whites. However, this may be changing. According to the "2013 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report" of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, by 2020, an estimated 50 percent of all new homebuyers will be Hispanic.

As the foreign-born population increases, so does the language barrier. The number of people with limited English proficiency increased 81 percent between 1990 and 2011, and more than 25 million LEP individuals were living in the United States in 2011.1 The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has noted that 75 percent of Hispanics who are 5 years of age or older speak Spanish at home and one-third of these individuals speak English "less than very well." Therefore, to reach underserved markets, maintain market share and ensure long-term viability, lenders must address the language barrier.