The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals kicked off its 2021 national conference with a poignant session about Hispanic homeownership rates featuring RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos, Realogy Franchise Group President and CEO Sue Yannaccone, and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices President and CEO Chris Stuart.
Despite Hispanic homeownership rates climbing in recent years to nearly 50 percent, NAHREP President Sara Rodriguez noted the pandemic and the disproportionate impact it had on Hispanic Americans’ employment and health can easily erase that progress.
“As you know, 2020 has been a very interesting year,” Rodriguez said. “The Hispanic community has been one of the hardest hit because of the COVID pandemic. But interestingly enough, even though financially we were the hardest hit, we still keep seeing an increase in the Hispanic formation of households, which is incredible to me.”
“Now, of course, we have to be looking at what the market is bringing, because if we’re not aware of all the [benefits] that the Latino market can bring, there can be a shrinking on those numbers,” she added. “And we definitely want to make sure that they’re [not] going back.”
As the housing market roars back, all three executives agreed there’s a unique opportunity for real estate brokerages and agents to establish or increase their outreach to Hispanic buyers and sellers, who are often young professionals and entrepreneurs looking to cement their place in their communities through homeownership.
“This is an amazing opportunity in our industry, and I think the thing that we really need to understand is that Hispanics are the youngest segment of our population, extremely entrepreneurial, have the largest workforce participation, and really are driving growth in our economy, especially in the housing sector,” Contos said. “So we need to really take note of that and that needs to thread spread throughout our industry.”
“In fact, 50 percent of the growth in the homeownership space is attributed to the Latino community,” he added. “That’s really important. So what do we do as real estate professionals when it comes to this?”
Yannaccone, Stuart and Contos noted the key to improving Hispanic homeownership rates must include providing access to robust data that empowers agents to better serve Hispanic consumers, hiring bilingual agents, translating marketing and transaction materials into Spanish, and building genuine and long-lasting relationships with the individual Hispanic communities in your market.
“It’s our job to help position our agents and our companies to be in a position to take advantage of that momentum both within the industry in the macroeconomics, but also that shifting demographic of homebuyer and home formation, of course, within the Hispanic market,” Yannaccone said.
Beyond training, education, technology and excellent business basics, all three agents said there’s one key element that will determine the direction of Hispanic homeownership: cultivating more Hispanic real estate agents, broker-owners and c-suite executives.
“One of the things that I feel like the industry is missing is a better understanding of quantitatively what kind of representation have we as an industry have inside of the communities we serve?” Stuart said while referring to BHHS’ own diversity and inclusion push. “There has to be a real estate industry census — if 80 percent of the community [we’re serving] is Hispanic, and less than 5 percent of our real estate professionals are Hispanic, that’s a non-starter.”
“We’ve got to make sure that we’re understanding the balance or imbalance of the numbers,” he added. “Then we can start to understand our own population, message, communicate, train, collaborate, do masterminds, and then obviously [expand] the role of our diversity, equity and inclusion councils.”
Through more diverse and inclusive workplaces, they said, brokers and agents can create strong, genuine bonds with the Hispanic community that leads to in-depth knowledge about mortgages and financing, greater awareness and access to assistance programs, and higher homeownership rates.
“We’re afraid to change in our industry,” Contos said. “That fear prevents us from going out, learning something new and communicating with parts of a community that maybe [we haven’t] communicated with in the past or learn something about the Hispanic culture.”
“How do you break through that?” he added. “You have to be present.”
All three leaders said they’ve spent the past few years building their presence in Hispanic communities across the country, and they’ve doubled down their efforts through social media engagement with consumers and launching programs to recruit more Hispanic agents, franchisees, staff members and leaders.
“It’s through awareness, it’s through aligning with companies that are forward-focused on the true impact of sustaining an inclusive environment in order to serve a multitude of communities,” Rodriguez said of the panel’s tips. “That will build your business for the future.”