There is no better occupation, in my opinion, than helping people realize their dreams. For many Latinos, a primary aspiration is purchasing a home. As real estate professionals, we have the unique opportunity to make it happen. According to the 2015 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report, Hispanics have accounted for 52 percent of the growth in U.S. homeownership since 2000, a trend that will continue through the next decade.
As Hispanic homeownership rises, many agents and loan officers are falling short on tapping into this robust market of consumers. For starters, people think you need to be Hispanic or speak Spanish to appeal to the market. This is simply not the case. In actuality, over three- quarters of all U.S. Latinos speak English. While some consumers may need to conduct business in Spanish, that shouldn’t prevent you from catering to the other 75 percent.
Beyond basic misconceptions, it can feel like a daunting task to strategically market, advertise, recruit or get involved in community events. The good news is, there are many great resources from credible research centers, such as Pew Research and the U.S. Census, that can provide information about locations with densely populated Hispanic markets where you can begin advertising and conducting business. Additionally, professional organizations can be a great place to make networking connections and share best practices for business development.
In the real estate industry, ignoring the growing Hispanic homeownership trend would be a major mistake. A recent Fannie Mae National Housing Survey found that nearly half of all Hispanics (48 percent) say that now is a good time to buy a home, and are more likely than the general population to prefer owning. At least 84 percent see homeownership as the best investment plan, or a way to save for retirement or a way to build wealth.
While enthusiasm and drive are high, there are still challenges, especially when it comes to building credit and understanding the requirements needed for homeownership. It’s important to be well-versed on the resources available in your market, whether that be credit counseling agencies or down payment assistance programs, so the buyer can be directed appropriately if needed. It may be hard to believe, but many first-time homebuyers still hold the misconception that a 20 percent down payment is necessary to buy a house. When buyers are armed with information, anxiety and uncertainty can be significantly reduced.
Finally, be prepared to work with an extended family. We Latinos often live with several members of our extended family. Take the time to understand the family dynamic of your Latino client, and offer to review the process with everyone. This will be well worth it in the end, especially because these other family members are likely to come back to you when they’re ready to buy.
Keeping these thoughts in mind while you think about your 2017 plan will no doubt help you tap into a market just waiting to hear from you.
L. Maria Zywiciel is president of NAHREP Consulting Services.
For more information, please visit www.nahrepconsulting.com.
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