Not all real estate clients are alike. This can be especially true in Southern California, with its diverse Hispanic population, according to Leticia Hernandez, a bilingual agent in our Escondido office serving the Hispanic community.
“It’s important to understand the needs of all diverse communities,” she says. “No matter if the differences are in ethnicity, education, or gender, each consumer group should be catered to based on the specifics of what appeals to them.”
A native of Mexico City, Leticia has been working with Hispanic buyers and sellers in San Diego County for more than 15 years. She has developed a keen insight into the financial and cultural habits of Hispanic clients – American-born as well as from throughout Latin America. According to the United Nations, 33 countries comprise Latin America and the Caribbean, which means Leticia has dealt with citizens from many nations.
We asked Leticia to discuss some of the considerations agents should know when working with Hispanics of various backgrounds and generations. She came prepared with facts and figures from a variety of authoritative sources, and gladly shared her own perspective as well.
According to the latest date Leticia found, the Hispanic community consists of 57 million people and is largely comprised of Mexicans, who make up 63 percent of the Latino population (2016 U.S. Census Bureau report). Next are Puerto Ricans at 9.3 percent, (Pew Research Center Tabulation 2015 “Statistical Portrait of Hispanic in the US, 2015.”) These numbers have a great impact on the real estate market, Leticia says, because Hispanics are the only U.S. demographic to have increased their rate of homeownership from 2015 through 2017 – 46.2 percent, according to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals and the Census Bureau.
Leticia says that many Hispanic first-time homebuyers frequently think they are not able to qualify for a loan, based on perceived obstacles. According to a Fannie Mae consumer survey, Hispanics indicated they perceive these three primary obstacles to their ability to obtain a home mortgage:
“To remove these misunderstandings, it is important to hire a knowledgeable and experienced agent who understands the challenges and can advise on different strategies,” she advises.
Hispanic buyers and sellers like involving the whole family in the real estate process, Leticia has found throughout her career. “They greatly appreciate an agent who respects the opinion of every member of the family. Some of them may not have in-depth knowledge about the selling or buying process, but they know and perceive when an agent respects their decisions and opinions. Large Hispanic families tend to be very united, and if they are confident and happy with their real estate agent, they are likely to refer them to other family members. An agent could even become “part of the family” – an honor bestowed by the family.
It is vital for anyone serving the Hispanic community to understand their values, customs, and traditions, Leticia emphasizes: “It’s important to not only be bilingual, but also bicultural. Based on my more than 15 years as a ‘bicultural’ real estate professional serving the Hispanic community, my personal observation is that the second generation – which is largely represented by millennials – is more interested in learning and studying Spanish than the third or fourth generation. They find value in being bilingual and bicultural.
“It is my perception that this group is using a mixture of Spanish and English as a way to use words that convey concepts that are not easy to translate into English. Twenty-six percent* of Hispanics are millennials, according to Pew, so I recommend that agents speak the language that their client feels most comfortable speaking, depending on the situation.”
Hispanic adults are more likely to learn about new products and services through posters and billboards than many Americans, Leticia points out. In addition, they are more predisposed to appreciate brands that are willing to address societal issues, such as being sensitive to the needs of the Hispanic community. “Personal contact is one of the most important values in this community, but millennials are more open to digital communication,” she says.
They are, according to a Fannie Mae October-November 2017 consumer survey:
Despite these challenges, 78 percent of Hispanics think that owning a home allows them to have more control over their living space, the Fannie Mae survey reports.
Want to learn more about working with the Hispanic community? Leticia Hernandez is a dedicated and hardworking real estate professional with a passion for helping families make their most important financial investment. Her No. 1 goal is: To contribute positively to people’s lives. Leticia understands deeply the diverse needs of every client she works with, whether it’s a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned investor. She works hard to build relationships while also focusing on strategy in order to ensure the best price and conditions for each client.
*Pew Research Center analysis of 2014. American Community Survey (IPUMS). “The Nation’s Latino Population is Define by its Youth.”