Cuban Americans

Speaking Spanish To Hispanics Pays Dividends in Real Estate Sales

Posted June 03, 2004 by publisher in Cuban Americans.

by Lew Sichelman | [url=][/url]

Hispanics are more uncomfortable than any other ethnic group in handling business transactions in English, according to a study of home buying attitudes.

“Real estate agents who conduct business in Spanish have an advantage,” Gary Maler of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University said at the National Association of Real Estate Editors’ annual real estate journalism conference in Houston late last month.

“Hispanics told researchers they prefer or need to work with an agent who speaks their own language,” Maler told the realty writers.

The telephone survey of 4,000 Texans was commissioned by the Center to provide the state’s real estate community with information they can use to better serve their clients.

Located on the A&M campus in College Station, the Center is the nation’s largest publicly funded organization devoted to real estate research.

Conducted by Harris Interactive late last year, the survey sampled four ethnic groups—Hispanics, Asians, African Americans and Whites. But because Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnicity in America, and because they typically do not respond well to surveys, that group constituted nearly half the sample.

While the study was confined to Texas, its findings are likely to be relevant everywhere—and to all real estate disciplines, not just to sales. But Maler warned against type-casting any ethnicity.

“Beware of generalities,” he cautioned. “One size does not fit all, and individuals within each group may not act in lockstep with their peers.”

That admonition aside, the study found that while the package of real estate services desired is fairly consistent across all four groups, the method by which those services are provided should be different for each one.

“All home buyers expect the same basic set of real estate services,” Maler said. “However, the delivery and approach used by an agent should vary depending on many factors, including ethnic background.”

Of the four groups, Asians are most likely to purchase a home within the next few years. And because they tend to believe the various aspects of the buying process are relatively simple, the first person they contact for advice is a real estate professional.

Blacks, too, view the process as easy, more so, in fact, than Asians. They also have a high opinion of real estate agents, and are more likely to think using an agent is a good idea and turn to an agent for advice before speaking with their parents or a lender.

Hispanics, on the other hand, seek out a parent for counsel first, then an agent or broker.

Indeed, nearly half told researchers agents don’t take the time to understand their needs. And according to the study, they are least likely to think agents earn their fees by providing valuable services.

Hispanics also tend to be more financially conservative, according to the study, which found that nearly half want to pay no more for a house than what they pay for rent.

Asians, though, are not only willing to pay more, they have a particular affinity for new construction as opposed to existing homes, the study found. They own the largest and most expensive houses of all four ethnic groups and are more likely to purchase newly built houses.

“If I was to say one thing to agents,” Maler told the realty writers, “I’d say don’t show (Asians) existing homes.”

The study also found that while whites are in the majority, are most comfortable with the buying process, are most likely to use the services of a professional and are willing to pay considerably more than their current rent, they are the least likely of the four groups to buy within the next few years.

In another key finding, and one that has been reported in numerous other studies, Blacks, Hispanics, likely buyers and those who have never worked with a real estate agent are all more likely to believe it is difficult to qualify for a mortgage.

One of the more surprising discoveries, though, is that gender does not seem to matter when it comes to the home buying decision. “I thought this would be different, especially because the other ethnic groups tend to be male-dominated, but it isn’t,” the Center’s associate director commented.

The study also found that minorities—Blacks and Asians, in particular—tend to want to negotiate fees, and many are successful in doing so.

“Four in ten adults who have used an agent have negotiated the fee, and three-quarters of these have done so successfully,” the report said.

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