Are you ready to capture business from the Hispanic market?Frances Martinez Myersentrepreneurs, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
Local entrepreneurs in Mecklenburg County, N.C. have changed
their tune to capture new business from Latinos who have moved into
the region. Their area has experienced 500 percent growth in its
Latino community in recent years, a phenomenon that has fueled the
local economy. Before 2000, no one had ever described Mecklenburg
County as a Latino stronghold.
Now, the region is leading the South in a resettlement pattern
that is making the economic power of the Hispanic consumer felt in
the most unlikely places. Locals have made the best of the change
and are thriving because of it.
There's a lesson in this transformation for our industry. The
day is coming when Hispanics will influence the same kind of change
in our businesses by virtue of their youth and sheer numbers. The
question isnt a matter of if, but rather when, this will happen.
Population forecasts assure us of that.
This is good news because these consumers will help fill the
void in the housing economy as the aging baby boomers wind down
from their peak buying years. Hispanics will comprise as much as 40
percent of new homeowners between now and 2020, according to the
Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. That shift is already
Between 1995 and 2005, the number of Hispanic owner-occupied
homes increased by 3.1 million, reaching a total of 6.9 million in
2005. This is an 81 percent increase over a 10-year span and
compares to a 19 percent increase for all other non-Hispanic
owner-occupied homes. 1
At hand now is the end of one consumer cycle and the beginning
of another. Mortgage professionals will need to adapt and diversify
their businesses as the market changes and new homebuyers emerge.
Hispanics will be a key driver in the new housing economy. Knowing
how to work with them is a business imperative for everyone in the
industry. How you approach this business will definitely determine
your success with these consumers.
Here are a few things you should think about:
-Adopt a new attitude about first-time homebuyers. A new
business reality has arrived, and as the number of transactions
decreases, these first-time homebuyers will be a viable channel of
-Develop a long-term game plan. Develop a strategy and invest some
time and energy into learning about the market and homebuyer
patterns. Encourage your sales force to do the same.
-Recruit bilingual, bicultural staff. Also add an infrastructure
to your business that fully supports them. Don't expect them to
only handle Latino business, but all kinds of business. Encourage
diversification within your talent pool. Help these new staff
members and representatives become successful by all measures and
it will help retain them within your organization. Also be prepared
to add other support resources necessary to facilitate the delivery
of services to Latino customers.
-Learn about products and programs that are best suited for
Hispanic homebuyers. There are a number of mortgages now on the
market that work particularly well for Hispanics. But first, you
must understand the barriers to homeownership and the credit habits
that distinguish them before you can match them with the right
-Be prepared to deliver high-touch service. Hispanics are a
melting pot of cultures, nationalities and generations.
Foreign-born Hispanics are service-focused, instead of
transaction-based, and will require more of your time and in-person
service. You need to understand this before you attempt to woo
them. Faxes and voice mails alone won't cut it with them.
-Meet the perfect customer for life. Latinos are loyalty-driven
consumers. Treat them well, take the time to inform them about the
process and give them good advice, and they will bring you an
endless stream of business. Word-of-mouth referrals hold greater
value for them over any advertisement and that is worth its weight
Above all, take the time to learn as much as you can about this
consumer segment. Every week, new studies and market data are
released about the growing force of the Hispanic market. Keep a
news clip file and read everything you can about how the Hispanic
population is shaping and changing the market.
Make it a priority to get trained. The National Association of
Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) is the only industry
source that offers Hispanic-centric training through NAHREP
University, its online training center. The Fundamentals of the
Hispanic Market course is perfect for professionals from all
segments of the industry, and was developed by Hispanics who know
the market and live the culture. The training will give you a good
jumpstart on getting familiar with this segment. You can check it
out at NAHREP's Web site, www.nahrep.org.
Just as important, make the commitment now to get moving on a
plan. For the past five years, Hispanic leaders have attempted to
alert the industry about the coming Latin boom. I've crisscrossed
the nation for speaking engagements to make people aware of this
market shift and business opportunity. Now that the boom is here,
there is going to be plenty of business for the mortgage
professionals who are ready. Will you be one of them?
Frances Martinez Myers is chair of the National Association
of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. As NAHREP chair, she serves
on the board of directors for the National Association of Realtors,
the National Advisory Council of Fannie Mae, the Affordable
Housing Advisory Council of Freddie Mac and the National
Advisory Council of Bank of
America. She can be reached at (760) 634-5007.
Facts you should know about Latinos:
-Homebuyers with names such as Rodriguez, Garcia and Hernandez
bumped Brown, Miller and Davis down the list of most common buyers'
names in 2005. 2
-The rate of homeownership among the nation's 42.7 million
Hispanics hit a record 50 percent in the last quarter of 2005,
according to the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development.
-Hispanics now outnumber African- and Asian Americans in 26 of the
50 states, according to a study recently released by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute and
based on the 2004 Census. California and Texas remain Latino
strongholds, with more than 50 percent of the nation's Hispanic
population, but southern states from North Carolina to Arkansas
have seen phenomenal Hispanic population growth.
-Between 1995-2005, five million new Hispanic households were
created throughout the United Statesan increase of 57 percent.
-Between 1990 and 2000, Hispanics were the fastest growing segment
of the middle class (116 percent increase) with incomes of $35,000
or more. 4
-Hispanics prefer to work with a real estate practitioner who
speaks their own language. More than any other ethnic group,
Hispanics say they feel uncomfortable handling business
transactions in English. 5
Footnotes 1. "Hispanic Housing
in the United States 2006," Institute of Latino Studies, Notre Dame University
3. "Hispanic Housing in the United States 2006,"
Institute of Latino Studies, Notre Dame University
4. U.S. Census
5. Texas A&M