MBA NewsLink recently posed questions to Gary Acosta, co-founder and CEO of NAHREP, The National Association of Hispanic Real Esate Professionals, San Diego.
Acosta is a mortgage banker with more than 25 years of experience in the industry. He has owned and operated several successful mortgage-banking companies. He currently serves on the consumer advisory board of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is a three-time national director of the Mortgage Bankers Association and was the 2013 recipient of the MBA’s Investing of Communities award. In 2003 Realtor Magazine named him one of the 25 most influential people in real estate, and in 2004 Hispanic Business Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in America. He is former chairman of the national advisory board for the First American Corp., former chairman of Freddie Mac’s Affordable Housing Advisory Council and has served on advisory boards for Fannie Mae and JP Morgan Chase.
MBA NEWSLINK: MBA recently held its first Strategic Markets and Diversity Conference, in which MBA Chairman E.J. Burke said, “the industry’s relevance is at stake.” Do you agree? What could lenders and servicers be doing better to attract both people to work in the industry and minority homebuyers?
GARY ACOSTA: I think E.J. is absolutely correct. Our industry does not currently reflect the market or possess the skill sets necessary to attract and serve the consumers of today. Companies that expect to thrive in today’s market need to create a diversity business plan which includes focusing on recruiting personal with language and cultural skills, training your staff on the nuances and needs of diverse buyers, ensuring that you have the most relevant products and creating marketing plans that connect with diverse customers.
NEWSLINK: Why is the Hispanic market so important to the mortgage banking community?
ACOSTA: Hispanics are passionate about homeownership. They appreciate the services we provide and they will tell everyone they know if we do a good job for them. They also represent about half of all new homebuyers moving forward. I think that says it all.
NEWSLINK: Why is homeownership so important to Latinos?
ACOSTA: In a word: “family.” Latino households are twice as likely as non-Hispanics to have two parents and at least one child in their households. The home is where the family congregates. Homeownership to Hispanics represents stability and is a symbol of financial success.
NEWSLINK: What are some of the obstacles for mortgage bankers in serving Latino markets?
ACOSTA: Outside of California and Florida, where many Hispanic families live in upper-middle-class neighborhoods, Hispanics are primarily first-time buyers. They require low down payment mortgages and they sometimes need to pool resources with extended family members to qualify for a mortgage. Immigrant families need to work with loan originators who can establish trust and who can speak Spanish. They often need someone who can be their guide and help them navigate through the complicated process of buying a home.
NEWSLINK: Where do you see the Latino homebuyer market in the next few years, and what steps do lenders and servicers have to take now to reach out to those potential homebuyers?
ACOSTA: The Latino market is already the largest and fastest-growing segment of new buyers across America. Along with having the right products and a relevant marketing strategy, the most important thing that lenders must do is make sure that diversity is present at all levels of your company–from the boardroom to the rank and file.
NEWSLINK: How important is FHA to potential Hispanic homeowners?
ACOSTA: Very important right now. FHA was created to serve segments of the market that are not well served by the private sector. That’s a big part of the market today. As the market continues to stabilize I expect the conventional market to provide more liquidity to Latino buyers.
NEWSLINK: How does immigration reform affect the mortgage banking industry?
ACOSTA: Immigration reform should mean just one thing to the mortgage industry: more buyers!
(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policy of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor does it connote an endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA NewsLink welcomes your submissions; articles and/or Q/A inquiries should be sent to Mike Sorohan, editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)