With interest rates still hovering at 40-year lows, the number of homeowners has soared to an all time high. But minorities still aren’t buying homes at the same rate as whites, according to a new survey.

According to the National Housing Survey, Chicago’s overall homeownership rate is 64 percent, while the metro area’s minority homeownership rate is just 46 percent. Why such a big difference? Part of the reason is a lack of basic home buying information.

“It was important to buy a home because we wanted equity in the community,” says Jacque Patterson, first-time home buyer.

It doesn’t have to be big, fancy or located in the best neighborhood, but owning a home is still a dream for many minorities. But according to Fannie Mae’s latest national homeownership survey, less than a quarter of African-Americans and Hispanics claim to have an above-average understanding of the home buying process. And if you don’t understand how to buy a house, you’re much less likely to try.

“The first thing you worry about when you’re buying a home is your credit, your credit rating and where you stand,” Patterson says.

“There are actually many misperceptions. People believe they must have perfect credit. People believe they still need a 20 percent down payment. Neither of those are true,” sayas Marcy Jimenez, Fannie Mae.

In fact, new loan programs like zero down mortgages and FHA loans that allow you to borrow more compared to how much you earn have become popular with minority home buyers who have had past credit issues.

“I had some difficulties in the past, so I was very apprehensive about where I was sitting and what type of home I would be able to purchase,” Patterson says.

“For someone who is interested in buying a home, perhaps talking to a non-profit credit counselor may be the best step,” Jimenez says.

That kind of help allowed Patterson and his family to bridge the information gap and buy a home nicer than any they could imagine owning.

“We wanted something to pass along to my children. Something that they would have long after we are gone,” Patterson says.

In Chicago, several local, non-profit housing agencies offer free homeownership classes in several languages.