The American Dream, a key piece of which is home ownership, is flourishing in Latinx communities all across the nation. By every economic measure, the buying power of Spanish-speaking Americans is skyrocketing to the tune of over $2 trillion. That buying power is most especially manifesting itself in home ownership, evidenced by the statistic that over 6 million new homes will be purchased by Latinx consumers within the next few years. As a prominent executive with the National Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) remarked, “With a growing Hispanic population and the highest rate of workforce participation, Hispanics are expected to drive growth in the housing market for decades”. While this is certainly good news for the real estate business, it also presents a series of unique challenges that will need to be met as this industry adapts to a Spanish-speaking customer base.
NAHREP recommends that the first step would be “to address the incredible shortage of Spanish-language speaking, culturally competent real estate agents (7%) and mortgage professionals (4%)”. The lack of bilingual professionals in this key area is a drag on the market. Many Latinx homebuyers express a preference for agents who can explain complicated transactions in a readily understandable format. Cultural sensitivity is also important, introducing upwardly mobile people into neighborhoods that might not reflect their ethnic identities and helping people select areas where they feel at home. As one homebuyer commented, “The (Spanish-speaking) agent was able to tell us if we would feel comfortable around the neighborhood.”
Given the economic projections for the future, improved language skills and cultural sensibilities will play important roles in the world of real estate for some time to come. There will be an increased need for multilingual professionals in both real estate and financial services, and these will surely create ripple effects in the banking and insurance sectors as well. Local government officials and educators will need to respond as demographic shifts alter the social landscape of communities. The need for certified, proficient Spanish speakers has never been greater and will only continue to grow as America becomes more diverse and prosperous.
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