National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals reflects muscle Hispanics flexing in U.S. real estate markets


The numbers that the U.S. Hispanic population is generating can no longer be ignored. They have a 45 percent share in the homeowner market.

That is just the beginning of the message Teresa Palacios Smith, the new president of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), is spreading wherever she goes.

Today, Palacios Smith, a Johns Creek resident, is vice president of Business Development and Cultural Initiatives for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties.

She had been a real estate professional for about nine years and had been deeply involved in the Hispanic community including serving as chairwoman of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (she was also 2007 Member of the Year).

That kept her involved in Hispanic business affairs and gave her the opportunity to get back to her Colombian cultural roots. Although Palacios Smith was born in the U.S., her parents were first-generation Americans.

She became involved in NAHREP when her boss President and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices GA Properties Dan Forsman insisted she attend a national NAHREP conference in Denver 11 years ago.

“It changed the course of my life forever,” she said. “I felt an immediate connection with NAHREP. The mission of the organization, the people, their energy, the passion and the professionalism of the people I was meeting was so impressive.

“The missing link that I didn’t have at the chamber was that it was all real estate. It was all people in my industry, and I had such a commonality with them.”

She immediately decided Atlanta needed a NAHREP chapter. With the help of two other Atlantans at that conference, James Altamirano and Bobby Armes, they formed the Atlanta chapter of NAHREP.

“We saw the need to provide advocacy and to educate agents on how to serve the booming Hispanic market. We felt there was no one representing the interest of this community,” Palacios Smith said.

Among her goals for NAHREP are to show the community to build wealth and diversify investments. For most Hispanics, their homes were there main investment and the recession hurt them badly as home values plummeted by two-thirds. That means investing 401ks, stocks and bonds.

So there is a 10-year goal to triple Latino wealth in America. Part of that equation is to raise home ownership from 35 percent to 50 percent.

NAHREP also wants to improve the success of Hispanic businesses, especially in the first year.

“Most fail in that first year,” she said. “So we have huge initiatives before us. But we are confident we can meet these goals.”

She said it is important to recognize the culture and the traditions that drive Hispanic community along with the love for family. It all combines to give the Hispanic community a unique approach to business and more importantly for Palacios Smith home ownership.

“You have to get to know someone almost on a personal basis before you can do business with them,” she said. “You have to establish a real relationship.”

That includes advocacy and creating opportunities. And the Hispanic community cuts across the entire American social strata.

“There is one thing we all have in common, and that is that dream of home ownership,” she said.

Palacios Smith said she remembers vividly what it meant to her parents when they bought their first home. All of the family was at the closing to witness it.

“Even though there were eight of us in this 3-bedroom, 1-bath house living under one roof, it felt like a mansion to us,” she said. “We were rich because we were living the dream in our own home.”

The professional growth – leadership skills, professional connections she has gained through NAHREP – has been extremely valuable, she said.

Because of her involvement in Hispanic community development, it allowed her to become one of HUD’s local listing agents in Georgia. That one contract with her company provided job opportunities for her company and led to over 400 closings and $33 million in real estate value.

Just last week Palacios Smith was in Washington, D.C., to meet with HUD Secretary Julian Castro to discuss housing issues that affect her constituents.

“I would never have had these opportunities without the connections that NAHREP offered me,” she said.

Palacios Smith also serves on the board of the Metro Atlanta Relocation Council (MARC).

In 2014, Teresa was honored as a Woman of Influence in Real Estate by Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

In 2015, she was featured in Allan Dalton’s new book, “Creating Real Estate Connections.”

A recent Wall Street Journal report shows that Hispanics are the fastest growing segment in both first-time buyers and in the luxury market. The NAHREP reports that the impact to the U.S. economy by higher income Latinos will represent $680 million by 2016.