By Keith Griffin
When it comes to a down economy, the recession doesn’t discriminate as veteran New Haven Realtor Marilyn Rosa puts it.
Rosa, who has been selling homes for the past decade (the last six as broker of the Rosa Real Estate Agency www.rosarealtyllc.com/ in New Haven) said that job losses and equity losses are hurting Latinos just as much as the other populations in the state.
“Latinos are getting back into the real estate market,” she said. “They’re a little afraid. They see what’s going on and they have the same questions and fears but they’re jumping on the bandwagon. They see what we’ve been through [with housing values down and homes sitting for a long time] but that isn’t stopping them.”
According HousingTrendReport.com, which is produced by the National Association of Realtors, prices in the New Haven-Milford market are down compared to a year earlier and continue to weaken. The local housing price correction eliminated all of the equity gained during the housing boom. The same can be said about the Bridgeport-Norwalk-Stamford area as well as the Hartford-East Hartford-West Hartford area.
On the national level, CNN.com reported (via HartfordBusiness.com) new-home sales flopped in June, an indication that the housing market may take longer than expected to recover. Sales of new homes fell to an annual pace of 350,000, down 8.4% from May, when sales hit a two-year high, according to the Census Bureau report issued Wednesday. The modest sales pace is a far cry from the boom years, when the annual rate reached the 1.4 million mark in July 2005.
In her slice of the real estate universe (the Fair Haven section of New Haven), Rosa sees fairly strong sales thanks to low-interest mortgages, lower prices (as reflected above), and a fairly diverse inventory have made New Haven itself a strong real estate market but problems in the suburbs (like the
Rosa’s clients in the real estate and mortgage modification business (another service she offers) tell her they still feel discriminated against when handling real estate transactions. “They feel like the don’t get full service because they don’t speak Spanish. They feel they get hurt by not knowing the language,” she said.
Rosa, who is Puerto Rican, said the one biggest mistake Latinos make in the market is trying to complete a complex real estate transaction without fully understanding the language. “When I sit with clients, both Spanish and non-Spanish speakers, I tell them I’m going to repeat it over and over until they get it,” said Rosa, who is bilingual and has used that skill to help the business. More than 55 percent of her buyers are Latino and more than two-thirds of her overall clients are Latino.
It’s paperwork that continues to be Latinos’ bane of existence. “The biggest challenge I’ve seen from the beginning, and we won’t see a change in the immediate future, is the paperwork. I will explain it to them and they will sign papers they don’t understand,” she said. “They don’t really know what the form says. They’re signing on faith. It would be like if somebody put a form in front of me that was in Russian.”
Regardless of the language spoken, Rosa said it’s important that real estate buyers find a real estate agent who delivers good service. “We, as Latinos, want to do business with other Latinos because we want to understand what we’re getting into but we still want the service. Otherwise you get turned off. You want to get the service.”
House graphic © Stock Xchng