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Language services among most valued by minority homebuyersMortgagePress.comMortgage borrower language services Mortgage lenders looking to boost their business with minority borrowers to capitalize on emerging markets should be prepared to offer some sort of foreign language service and alternative loan products. That is one of the many significant findings of a survey of real estate agents, regarding their relationship with mortgage lenders in 2007. The report, "How Real Estate Agents View Relationships with Mortgage Providers in a Shifting Market," is based on a February survey conducted by Campbell Communications. While the study found that 55 percent of non-minority homebuyers rely on real estate agents for recommending a mortgage provider, that number dropped to 48 percent for minority borrowers. Generally, agents recommend two mortgage providers to both non-minority and minority homebuyers. Respondents rated 16 reasons that real estate agents might refer minority homebuyers to a mortgage provider. The most important was "reliable in meeting scheduled closing dates." The least important was "loan officer same race/ethnicity as homebuyer." "The survey also pointed to two important services when it comes to serving minority borrowers," said Tom Popik, principal of Geosegment Systems, who authored the new report on the home-purchase market. "One is that lenders need to be prepared to offer foreign language support, particularly for Hispanic borrowers. The other is that lenders need to have loan products that provide for things like alternative sources of down payments, such as those coming from relatives." Of the real estate agents surveyed who deal with Hispanic homebuyers, 42 percent said that these borrowers could benefit from foreign language services. "Translation services at closing" was identified as the most important foreign language service, followed by "loan officers speak language of homebuyer." In terms of alternative loan programs for minority homebuyers, survey respondents identified "down payment from relatives acceptable" as the most important factor. In addition to covering emerging markets and minority lending, the new study focused on a number of issues related to how and why real estate agents select mortgage providers for their customers. The topics included: • Mortgage recommendations of real estate agents; • Use of mortgage partners; • Foreign languages used by homebuyers; • Reasons real estate agents recommend mortgage providers; and • Lender-specific ratings and rankings for specific direct lenders. The study found that more than half of the real estate agent respondents reported their firms had a formal relationship with mortgage lenders, but only a small percentage of that group said they recommended their firms' mortgage lender partners. Nearly three quarters of respondents reported that they relied on a separate list of informal mortgage partners or a single informal lender partner. For more information, visit www.campbellsurveys.com.