@dharder, 2008. MorgueFile

Working With Hispanic Clients

Erika Villegas

Erika Villegas

By Erika Villegas

Are you leaving money on the table by not working with Hispanic clients?

I am still surprised to hear an answer of “no” when I ask agents from different parts of the country whether they work with Hispanic customers. I help buyers and sellers from all walks of life and with many different backgrounds and ethnic groups, but at least half of my business is comprised of Hispanic clientele. This is, in part, due to my office being in a heavily Hispanic populated neighborhood of Chicago. But I am also a bi-lingual Mexican-American who has lived both in the U.S. and in Mexico. I can relate to many of my clients.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be Hispanic or speak Español to work with such clients. There are many Latinos who only speak English or who prefer to do business in English since it is the primary language of many first- or second-generation immigrants.

Hispanics are the largest minority in the United States. As of 2013, there are an estimated 54 million Hispanic people living in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau.

@dharder, 2008. MorgueFile

@dharder, 2008. MorgueFile

The 2014 State of Hispanic Home Ownership Report, published by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, finds that four out of 10 new households between 2010 and 2020 are expected to be Hispanic. And Hispanics are expected to comprise 50 percent of all new home buyers by 2020. NAHREP has published this report for five consecutive years and it’s a must-read if you want to be better informed about the Hispanic market. It can be downloaded at nahrep.org/report.

The 2013 Fannie Mae National Housing Survey found that nearly half of all Hispanics (48 percent) say this is a good time to buy a home and that they are more likely than the general population to prefer owning, particularly for lifestyle reasons. At least 84 percent see home ownership as the best investment plan, a way to save for retirement, or a way to build wealth.

I know that many Hispanics have home ownership at the top of their goals, and are very optimistic about one day achieving this goal. The challenges that I see are similar for buyers across the board, a lack of affordable housing inventory and credit hurdles.

If I can give you one piece of advice about working with Hispanic families, it’s be prepared to work with the “whole” family. If a daughter is buying a home, she will most likely bring her parents and her siblings and vice-versa. It’s a common practice, especially if they’re purchasing their first home. Working with multi-generational families was especially challenging early on in my career because I had to explain terms that were not only new to them, but new to me as well. I didn’t know many of the real estate terms in Spanish. I took the time to translate terms and make a glossary both in English and Spanish, which I now have readily available as reference that my clients can take home, read, and discuss with their families.

I have helped many clients since becoming licensed 10 years ago, and my Hispanic clients refer me at least three times more often than other clients. I have gained their trust, and because of that I will be their practitioner for life. Yes, you will be invited to share a meal at their home, or even attend a wedding or quinceañera; then you will know you are part of the “familia.”

Hispanic clients will always be grateful because you helped them with the most important purchase of their lives, which will allow them to build wealth, or send their kids to college, or maybe even open a business.

How will you grow your business by working with the Hispanic market?

Erika Villegas is a broker associate with ERA Mi Casa Real Estate in Chicago. Connect with Villegas at www.erikavillegas.com.

Comments
  1. Erika:
    I am a broker in the Nashville TN market and I agree with you wholeheartedly regarding the Hispanic market and other ethnic groups living here in Tennessee. I have had the privilege and honor of serving buyers and sellers from all walks of life from many different backgrounds and ethnic groups. Because of a thriving music industry, a host of healthcare employers and big employers like Nissan and General Motors manufacturing plants Nashville and the surrounding towns and cities have become a hotspot for growth and jobs. Real estate sales have steadily increased over the last few years and more and more newcomers are moving to Tennessee and becoming homeowners. I lived in Los Angeles and New York in the 70′s and 80′s where diversity was part of everyday life. I see that happening here as well.

  2. Norma Saenz

    Thank you for shinning a positive light on our Hispanic population. Just like any other ethnic group, Hispanics are able and ready to make the investment on a new home. I believe that in our line of work, we need to be proactive and educate ourselves regarding the diverse ethnic groups. We need to be able to understand their culture and values. Thank you for the article!

  3. Hi Erica,

    I just read your blog about working with Hispanic clients. I totally agree with you and would love to work more with the Hispanic Community. The challenge I think Americans have is the language barrier. I am African American and I grew up on the East Coast. My high school was predominantly Hispanic as were lots of my friends. I love the culture and the language and learned it enough to be dangerous :-) But after moving to the Midwest 20+ years ago I lost it since at the time there are not alot of Hispanics here for me to be able to keep up. How would you recommend Agents who are not of Hispanic descent and don’t speak Spanish connect with the community?

  4. Laverne, thank you for your comment. I know sometimes is hard to get out of our comfort zone but it sounds that you have served clients from different ethnic groups. We must be open minded about serving all types clients in achieving the dream of owning a home.

  5. Norma,

    I like to always see the positive in things, specially when I see the buying power of the Hispanic community every day!

  6. Stacey, you need to polish your Spanish and go out and practice, people appreciate effort. I suggest possibly partnering with another agent to co-brand and market to the Hispanic community or hire an assistant even if it’s part time that can help translate if needed. But don’t forget that you don’t need to be Hispanic to serve that market and that the majority if Hispanics understand and communicate in English. If you email me I would be more than happy to share the glossary I use with my clients, I too didn’t know every real estate term in Spanish but kept on practicing and learning.

  7. Here in the Boulder Real Estate Market we have a large Hispanic population. Most of them do speak excellent English. Regardless, I’ve been brushing up on my Spanish. There is no way I could explain a contract – but at least I can be friendly!

    Do you have ideas on how we can attract Hispanic buyers?

  8. Leanne, there’s definitely a misconception about language, thanks for pointing that out. Keep on practicing that Spanish, comes in handy for more than selling real estate. I think that hiring a bilingual assistant or adding a buyers agent to your team may be the way to go. Once you have someone on your team, you start door-knocking and possibly advertising in a local newspaper. I know for a fact Hispanics in Chicago still like to read print media.

  9. Monica Barrón

    Erika,

    Although I agree with you that Hispanics can be as interested in buying and as qualified as any other ethnic group, I don’t agree you single us out as a market. I work with a variety of cultures and never thought I was losing money by not working with one or the other. I, as well as many other colleagues (of Hispanic, and non-Hispanic descent), are offended you would point this out. This blog could’ve been more helpful to your colleagues had the content been purposeful.

  10. Monica,

    It’s never my intention to offend anyone when I write a post but to start a conversation, I appreciate your comment and opinion.

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