Hispanics are making strong gains in homeownership and not only lead first-time homebuyer purchases, but are also forming households at the fastest rate, according to the 2012 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report released recently by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP).

Hispanic homeowners have become a driving force in the market with their numbers growing from 4.24 million in 2000 to 6.69 million in 2012, an increase of 58 percent, NAHREP reports. But scarce inventory in some markets is becoming a factor in their ability to buy, said NAHREP President Juan Martinez.

“Their biggest obstacle now coming into the market isn’t the credit crunch, it’s the lack of available housing to purchase. They will play an increasingly significant role in the nation’s home purchase market, if conditions permit,” Martinez said in a news release.

And in today’s Chicago Tribune, columnist Mary Umberger interviewed Gary Acosta, executive director of the trade group, for more on NAHREP’s report. Read her column, “Hispanic homebuyers a driving force in housing.”