BY CYNTHIA MORENO
SACRAMENTO – Gerardo ‘Jerry’ Ascencio came from his native Michoacán, México nearly 57 years ago. He and his parents settled in the San Fernando Valley hoping to pursue the American Dream.
But, throughout his childhood, América offered them everything except that.
The family of five lived in a tiny trailer in the backyard of his aunt’s house.
Ascencio worked three jobs to help make ends meet, including working the graveyard shift at a gas station with this brother; singing in a mariachi group at local bars, restaurants, and family parties throughout the San Fernando Valley; and, worked at a fiber glass factory.
On his spare time, he was the official community translator, helping friends, relatives and neighbors translate loan documents, eviction notices and letters from the IRS or INS.
Having emigrated North meant working long hours with little sleep to fulfill many dreams.
“Jerry’s story is the immigrant experience story and it’s not unique to just Hispanics. It is the story of so many other immigrants from around the world who come to this country looking to become something of themselves and their families,” said Gil Torres, President of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, Sacramento Chapter.
One day, Ascencio’s mother was watching a talk show on Telemundo about successful entrepreneurs. Inspired by their stories, she noticed among them was a wealthy realtor. That’s when she turned to her son and said, “Mi hijo, you will become a realtor!”
The rest of Ascencio’s climb through the real estate world is a story he shares with audiences around the world. It is a story of constant struggle, poverty, determination, hard work and ultimately, success.
Torres, who is the President of the local NAHREP chapter in Sacramento has heard Ascencio’s story multiple times and is a witness to how it can transform lives, inspire real estate professionals on their journey toward achieving success and most importantly, instilling the idea that no goal one sets their mind to is unachievable.
“Jerry is one of our primary advocates, speakers and overall, one of the most influential real estate moguls in the country. He has a unique story to share and I have personally seen how it impacts people across the nation,” Torres said.
That is why on Thursday (Nov. 12), Torres organized one of the last NAHREP educational conferences of the year and invited Ascencio to share his personal story as the evening’s keynote speaker.
The rags-to-riches story was developed into a one-hour production titled ‘53 Million & One’ which was created alongside Ascencio’s friend Gary Acosta, the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals co-founder and CEO after he saw a famous documentary on HBO titled, ‘Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,’ a documentary highlighting the African-American experience through the boxer’s experiences.
Ascencio and Acosta talked about Ascencio’s story and co-wrote the script. His story is about coming to the United States as an immigrant and becoming a homeowner. But more than that, his story is about becoming one of the most successful real estate professionals in Southern California.
Ascencio is currently a 25-year veteran of the real estate industry and a recognized leader in the Hispanic real estate market. He owns and operates San Fernando Realty and Mission Real Estate, two thriving residential real estate brokerage firms with over 55 agents. He is the current president of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals that counts on a membership of over 20,000 members across the nation.
Torres has always wanted Ascencio to pay a visit to Sacramento to share his story with the approximate 160 members that make up the Sacramento NAHREP Chapter.
“Our Hispanic population on the outskirts of Sacramento is largely Latino. I would say about 60 percent compared to the 40 percent within the city and we have people who want to become homeowners and don’t know anything about the process. By listening to Jerry’s story, they will have many of their questions answered and also, find that courage to take the first step to become homeowners,” Torres said.
The Sacramento NAHREP Chapter is one of 35 in the country that is dedicated to helping Hispanics obtain home ownership by providing community outreach, networking events, and educational forums around the community.
When Latinos have questions about their immigration status and being able to obtain a home loan, or when they don’t understand the role of becoming naturalized citizens when deciding to purchase a home or when they don’t exactly know which steps to take or the importance of becoming homeowners, the Sacramento NAHREP Chapter is there to answer all of their questions, and more.
“We do everything in our power to educate the Hispanic population on the importance of owning a home and how it can be the most important measure of building wealth. We also try to educate all of our real estate practitioners on current trends, reports and changing policies that will help them be more effective in this evolving industry,” Torres said.
Each year the Sacramento NAHREP Chapter holds six educational events a year to train, provide resources and information to and to educate real estate professionals in the Sacramento and Northern California region.
A few months ago, the group invited one of the top Latinas from the Coca-Cola Company to share her wisdom with other ‘Women of Influence’ in the real estate industry.
“It was a huge success. So many Latina real estate professionals were inspired. That is our goal; to continue inspiring everyone in our industry and to continue reaching out to Hispanics with the end goal of ensuring they are informed when making decisions about becoming homeowners,” said Torres.
According to Torres, Hispanics consider home ownership the first step to building wealth but they still encounter many barriers when they decide to become home owners. For many of them, they hold down stable jobs, have a steady income and can afford making monthly payments.
“But many continue to struggle with the down payments. So, we tell our real estate practitioners which grants, loans and other options are available to help them make that down payment so we could get them into a home of their dreams that meets their needs and financial pocket,” said Torres.
This year’s last conference is titled, ‘Mastering the Mastermind & Building a Superstar Team’ and Ascencio will share with real estate practitioner’s trade secrets on how to build a successful team, about being a leader in the community, how to be a better public speaker and overall, successful real estate agent.
There will also be a panel discussion with five of Sacramento’s top real estate professionals that made the TOP 250 list of real estate professionals nationally. They will share their personal stories as well as their personal experiences of what has made them successful entrepreneurs and real estate practitioners.
“Along with Ascencio’s story, I think everyone in our chapter and all of our guests will have a lot to learn from these top professionals,” Torres said.
Ascencio, who is a passionate advocate for minority home ownership will share his family’s own rise from apartment tenant living to becoming home owners and what it can afford working class families. He will share his parents’ lack of understanding of the real estate sales process and their consequent delayed entry into homeownership which has ultimately made him an impassioned advisor and educator of Latino first-time homebuyers through his brokerage.
The NAHRP Sacramento chapter conference starts at 4:30 p.m. and Ascencio’s production will begin at 5 p.m. at the Guild Theater in Sacramento. For more information, please visit: GreaterSacramento.org or e-mail Gil Torres at: firstname.lastname@example.org.