Friday, December 28, 2007

Casa Latina Helps New Population

As the nation continues to morph ethnographically, new services for persons with different ethnic heritages continue to appear. In New Milford, a business named Casa Latina has opened on Bridge Street to provide both goods and financial services to a largely Latino clientele, with some shelves in the shop still empty but the ambitions of its proprietor, 28-year-old Magaly Jarrin, quite full.

As the nation continues to morph ethnographically, new services for persons with different ethnic heritages continue to appear. In New Milford, a business named Casa Latina has opened on Bridge Street to provide both goods and financial services to a largely Latino clientele, with some shelves in the shop still empty but the ambitions of its proprietor, 28-year-old Magaly Jarrin, quite full.

"I've always wanted to be a businesswoman," said Ms. Jarrin who, while born in Quito, Ecuador, grew up in the U.S. "I always pictured myself having my own business," she said, explaining that it was the parents of her husband Paul, also an Ecuadorian native, who gave her that extra push.

"His parents have that background. They were very wealthy back in Ecuador. They owned a couple of car dealerships, a cement mine, a couple of gasoline stations," she said, adding that, because of political turmoil, the family's businesses in South America went downhill.

The couple moved to Connecticut, and their oldest son came for a visit five years ago. "He met me, and he never went back," Ms. Jarrin said. "My husband and his family have been very supportive. We have two houses. We have two businesses. I think that's quite an accomplishment," she said, noting that her husband began managing the J&J Auto Repair, which is just up the street, roughly one year ago. The two lived in Naugatuck before renting their house there and purchasing a second in New Milford, where they now live, this year.

More here:

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Popular, Inc. Updates Progress on its U.S. Strategic Initiatives

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Dec. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Popular, Inc. ("Popular" or the "Corporation") (Nasdaq: BPOP, BPOPO) today announced that its Board of Directors at a meeting held on December 19, 2007 acted upon two matters that will impact the Corporation's financial results for 2007: (1) a recharacterization of certain securitization transactions previously entered into by Popular Financial Holdings ("PFH") as sales instead of secured financings, and (2) the preliminary results of the goodwill impairment analysis at E-LOAN.

In describing the initiatives announced today, Richard L. Carrion, Chairman, President and CEO of Popular, stated: "We are focused on doing the things we need to do to improve our balance sheet, our profitability and our liquidity."

Recharacterization of Certain On-Balance Sheet Securitizations as Sales under

FASB Statement No. 140

Equity One and certain of its subsidiaries (collectively, "Equity One"), conducted 21 mortgage loan securitizations between 2001 and 2006 that were sales for legal purposes but did not qualify for sale accounting treatment because the securitization trusts did not meet the criteria for qualifying special purpose entities ("QSPEs") contained in FASB Statement No. 140, Accounting for Transfers and Servicing of Financial Assets and Extinguishment of Liabilities. As a result, the transfers of the mortgage loans pursuant to these securitizations were accounted for as secured borrowings with the mortgage loans continuing to be reflected as assets on our consolidated statement of financial condition with appropriate footnote disclosure indicating that the mortgage loans were, for legal purposes, sold to the securitization trusts.

Because the loans in these trusts continued to be reflected as assets on our consolidated financial statements, we are required in accordance with FASB Statement No. 5, Accounting for Contingencies, to continue to record charge-offs and make provision for inherent loan losses relating to such loans. As of September 30, 2007, the unpaid principal balance of mortgage loans reflected as assets on our consolidated statement of financial condition related to on-balance sheet securitizations was approximately $3.7 billion and the allowance for loan losses related to those loans included in on-balance sheet securitizations was approximately $68 million.

As part of the Corporation's strategy of exiting the subprime business at PFH and improving its capital ratios, as of December 19, 2007, Equity One and the trustee for each of the related securitization trusts amended the provisions of the related pooling and servicing agreements to delete the provisions that prevented us from removing the loans from our books. This will allow us to recognize 15 of the 21 transactions as sales under FASB Statement No. 140. When accounting for the transfers as sales, we are required to (i) reclassify the loans as held-for-sale with the corresponding lower of cost or market adjustment as of the date of the transfer, (ii) remove from the Corporation's books approximately $3.2 billion in mortgage loans and $3.1 billion in related liabilities representing secured borrowings, (iii) recognize assets referred to as residual interests ("IOs"), which represent the fair value of residual interest certificates that were issued by the securitization trusts and retained by Equity One, and (iv) recognize assets referred to as mortgage servicing rights ("MSRs"), which represent the fair value of Equity One's right to continue to service the mortgage loans transferred to the securitization trusts. The Corporation had previously recorded $19 million in MSRs in several of these securitization transactions.

The net impact of the recharacterization transaction will depend on the value of the IOs and MSRs recorded. While we will not complete the final valuation of the IOs and MSRs until December 31, 2007, we currently estimate that the aggregate value of IOs and MSRs recognized in connection with the resulting sale accounting treatment will be in a range of $20 million to $95 million. Under this assumption, we expect that this transaction will result in a net loss before tax impact in the fourth quarter of 2007 of between approximately $90 million and $165 million.

After exiting the wholesale subprime mortgage origination business in January 2007, we believe that accounting for these transactions as sales on our financial statements reflects our current strategy. It also provides investors a better portrayal of the legal rights and obligations related to these transactions and will allow them to better assess their economic impact on the Corporation's financial condition. The removal of the mortgage assets from our books will also have a favorable impact on our capital ratios and reduce the amount of subprime mortgages in the Corporation's books.

As a result of the recharacterization transaction described above, based on data from September 30, 2007, PFH's subprime mortgage loan portfolio would decrease by approximately $2.4 billion, out of $3.1 billion in subprime mortgage loans originated through the exited wholesale channels at PFH.

E-LOAN Goodwill Impairment

Considering the losses in the operation of E-LOAN, market conditions and other factors, on November 5, 2007, the Board of Directors of Popular approved a restructuring plan at E-LOAN that includes a substantial reduction of the marketing and personnel expenses and changes in the business model to align them with revenue expectations. In our Form 10-Q for the third quarter of 2007 filed on November 9, 2007 (the "Form 10-Q"), we announced that the cost of the restructuring of the operations of E-LOAN would result in reduced operating expenses of approximately $79 million for 2008. E-LOAN's estimated net losses for the year 2008 are expected to decline by approximately $28 million.

In the Form 10-Q, we also disclosed as a subsequent event that we were evaluating whether the announced change in E-LOAN's business model could result in an impairment in the value of its recorded goodwill and trademark. As of September 30, 2007, E-LOAN's accounting records reflected $164 million in goodwill and $64 million in trademark. Given the changes to the business model and the unprecedented conditions in the mortgage loan business, based on the analysis performed by an independent party, management has preliminarily concluded that the market value of E-LOAN is below its book value by a range of approximately $150 million to $175 million. At this stage, we are working on step two of the goodwill impairment assessment, as required by FASB Statement No. 142, Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets to determine the impairment amount. We believe that the maximum amount of goodwill and trademark impairment that could result would be approximately $175 million.

As a result of the charges related to these actions summarized above, assuming that (i) the recharacterization transaction described previously results in a pre-tax net loss in the fourth quarter of 2007 of $127.5 million (the midpoint of the range) and (ii) the amount of the impairment charge at E- LOAN is the amount of $175 million, the Corporation would incur a net loss for the year ended December 31, 2007. After the results of these transactions, the Corporation would continue to exceed the risk-based capital guidelines under the federal banking regulations. The estimated pro-forma ratios of total risk- based capital, Tier 1 risk-based capital and Tier 1 leverage would be above 12%, 11% and 7.50%, respectively. As of September 30, 2007, these ratios were 11.98%, 10.73% and 8.31%, respectively.

The information included in this press release may contain certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based on management's current expectations and involve certain risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in forward- looking statements. For a discussion of such risks and uncertainties, see the Corporation's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the most recently ended fiscal year as well as its filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The Corporation assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect occurrences or unanticipated events or circumstances after the date of such statements.

Popular, Inc. is a full service financial institution based in Puerto Rico with operations in Puerto Rico, the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America. As the leading financial institution in Puerto Rico, with over 300 branches and offices, the Corporation offers retail and commercial banking services through its franchise, Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, as well as auto and equipment leasing and financing, mortgage loans, consumer lending, investment banking, broker / dealer and insurance services through specialized subsidiaries. In the United States, the Corporation has established a community banking franchise providing a broad range of financial services and products to the communities it serves through its subsidiaries Banco Popular North America which operates branches in New York, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Florida and Texas, E-LOAN and Popular Financial Holdings. The Corporation, through its transaction processing company, EVERTEC, continues to use its expertise in technology as a competitive advantage in its expansion throughout the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as internally servicing many of its subsidiaries' system infrastructures and transactional processing businesses. The Corporation is exporting its 114 years of experience through these regions while continuing its commitment to meeting the needs of retail and business clients through innovation, and to fostering growth in the communities it serves.

SOURCE Popular, Inc.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Casa Latino Franchise Corporation has added three Central California offices to it's franchise family. The three offices, formerly Miramar Realty Group of Bakersfield, CA, currently roster approximately 75 real estate agents, with a total staff of approximately 100. The newest franchisee in the Casa Latino system also plans to open several additional Casa Latino locations over the next several years and will commence an aggressive expansion program in January, 2008.

Click Here to view the video

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Federal Reserve to Curb Mortgage Lending Abuses: More Rules for Those Who Hate Rules

The Federal Reserve proposed rules today to curb abusive lending practices. They think it may not be a good thing—you know, lenders giving loans to folks who can’t afford to repay them, which leads to foreclosures, which leads to bank losses, which leads to less lending, which leads to less buying, which leads to less selling, which leads to a weakening economy, which leads to less holiday gift spending, which leads to a recession. Oh, my!

Now, you would think the whole process could be avoided if buyers did not borrow over their heads. Then again, you would think mortgage brokers would advise clients not to borrow over their heads. Or maybe the fellows with the dough to lend would just not lend it to folks who want to borrow over their head. Surely, everyone wanted to reach the same goal, so the fault must be divied up—don’t mortgage something you can’t afford to lose, don’t get a client a loan just to make a commission, and don’t lend money against property you are likely to foreclose.

Anyhoot, here are the proposed rules, in a nutshell (they will not be made final until consumer comments are reviewed):

1. Do not give unaffordable loans. Instead of measuring a borrower’s ability to repay based on the lowball sub-prime ARM introductory rate, measure it against the reset rate. In other words, stop the sucker loans.

2. Restrict “stated income” or “no income verification loans. These “liar” loans lead to borrowers taking loans they never should have taken in the first place. These were great for lenders and mortgage brokers because it gave them an out– “It ain’t our fault, the guy said he made a million bucks. It’s not our obligation to check it out. Who thinks people will lie to get money?”

3. Eliminate or limit prepayment penalties. It does not take much to figure out that steep penalties for paying off a loan early would limit consumers’ refinancing options. Hmm… you don’t pay back the bank, they’re unhappy; you pay them back early, they’re still unhappy. You just can’t please some people.

4. Require disclosure of broker incentives. Wow. You mean borrowers would know just how much the mortgage broker was being paid? These brokers are gonna have a heck of time explaining yield spread premiums.

5. Prohibit coercion of appraisers. You mean appraisers allow themselves to be coerced? Maybe appraisers need to tell folks “Hey, I need my job so I’m giving the bank this appraisal number, but just between us, the appraisal I’d like to send them is this.”

6. Require better disclosure. Oh no. More forms that no one will read, drafted by lawyers who still think they should be charging by the word (some of them may even throw in some legalese, or latin, you know, to show they’re smarter and entitled to higher fees)

Maybe those armchair anarchists are right. Abolish government and all these silly laws. Let the consumer figure it out— or get what’s coming to them.

If it were up to us, there would be only one rule: Is this a loan you would give to your mother?

Source: CNN Money.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Latino credit union is coming to Forsyth

By Richard Craver

A financial institution geared toward Hispanic consumers said yesterday that it plans to enter the Forsyth County market in the spring.

Latino Community Credit Union, based in Durham, is one of the nation’s largest minority credit unions, with more than $55 million in total assets and 51,000 members.

The credit union is reviewing branch options in Forsyth, particularly in the Walkertown area, where the biggest concentration of Hispanic residents live, said Angel Romero, its marketing director.

The credit union has branches in Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Greensboro and Raleigh. Romero said that there are plans to add a second branch in Charlotte and a second branch in Wake County.

“We have a lot of members using services at the Greensboro branch, so the new branch will be more convenient for them,” Romero said. “There’s also a higher percentage of Latinos in Forsyth County than in Guilford County as well.”

Many area banks and credit unions have tried, with mixed success, to attract Hispanic consumers with their financial-literacy and educational services. Financial institutions overall have struggled to connect with Hispanics, including Mexican immigrants to the Carolinas who lack knowledge of the U.S. banking system or are wary of banks and credit unions from an identification perspective.

One advantage for Latino Community in reaching Hispanic consumers is that it does not require a Social Security number for opening an account. A U.S. tax-identification number, known as an ITIN, is required. It can be obtained by providing official identification issued by the U.S. or foreign governments, such as a passport, driver’s license or birth certificate.

“By understanding the needs of the Latino community and providing services such as bilingual officers, we will be successful in attracting members in the Winston-Salem area,” Romero said.

Latino Community has an opportunity to fill a financial void in the local Hispanic community if it can dependably provide large loans, said Maria Sanchez-Boudy, the executive director of the Hispanic Arts Initiative of Winston-Salem and a financial consultant to the Hispanic community.

“I’m a firm believer that you can get the Hispanic market if you know how to serve it,” Sanchez-Boudy said. “The credit union’s flexibility on identification will help, and there is a growing number of Hispanic Realtors that it could gain business from.”

Part of Latino Community’s expansion was aided by the awarding Wednesday of $500,000 in grants and $5 million in a low-interest-rate investment loan from the Wachovia Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Both groups provide money to the Opportunity Finance Network. Romero said that the credit union will use the $5 million to provide loans to low-income households.

It’s not the first time that a large grant has given Latino Community a financial boost. Duke University committed in June 2006 to deposit up to $5 million over five years to help Latino Community provide mortgage products in Durham County.

■ Richard Craver can be reached at 727-7376 or at


Latino Community Credit Union
• FOUNDED: February 2000


• BRANCHES: Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Raleigh

• TOTAL ASSETS: $55.4 million

• MEMBERSHIP: 51,000

Thursday, December 13, 2007

New Vista Asset Management and Fannie Mae Partner to Turn Foreclosures Into Homeownership Opportunities for Minorities

New Vista Asset Management and Fannie Mae are teaming up to market foreclosures as affordable housing for minority and low- to moderate-income families. The initiative is part of New Vista’s proactive strategy to prevent further erosion of homeownership rates in minority neighborhoods that have been devastated by recent foreclosure trends.

“New Vista is excited to work with Fannie Mae to create a new path to homeownership using these REO units. We believe our partnership will demonstrate a more responsible way to sustain homeownership opportunities within the minority communities,” said New Vista’s CEO Jim Park. “Our focus is to market and sell these units directly to first-time and minority homebuyers using a national network of real estate professionals with deep roots in those minority communities as well as initiate consumer-direct outreach efforts to pair up mortgage-ready homebuyers to available REO properties.””*

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Company eyes Hispanic real estate market in Kern

Just saying "Se Habla Español" isn't enough.

People don't talk about it a lot. But finding the right Hispanic real estate agent can be the difference between a happy, stress-free home buying or selling experience, and an unhappy, stressful experience. Many real estate agents claim to "specialize in the Hispanic real estate market". At Casa Latino we do much more than talk the language. We understand your culture, your way of life, your way of working, your way of financial management, your faith, your struggles, your goals, your needs, and your dreams, primarily because we have lived it.

As we roll toward 2008, consider the different options that lie ahead. While keeping in mind that in the worst market the nation has ever seen, Casa Latino is still growing at a rapid pace.

Join the growing list of real estate professionals that have made Casa Latino their home.

Sarah N. Ketchum
Casa Latino Real Estate
Director of Office Development
(661) 201-8474
3511 Union Ave.
Bakersfield, CA. 93305
(661) 321-0800

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Soap Opera Educates Hispanics on Home Loans Sunday, December 09, 2007 -

Albuquerque, NM -Jealousy and romance aren't the typical words used in homebuyer education, but they aptly describe an educational and entertaining telenovela that is currently used in Albuquerque to teach individuals about buying a home. Several local organizations are using DVDs of the Spanish-language TV mini series, Nuestro Barrio, which was funded by Freddie Mac. The show is about Hispanic life in the United States. The organizations are hosting a kick-off event for Nuestro Barrio Nuestro Hogar on the evening of December 5 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center at 701 Fourth Street, SW in Albuquerque.

In a collective effort to more effectively reach the Hispanic community, Freddie Mac and Bank of Albuquerque (BAQ Mortgage), working together with Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership (GAHP) and United South Broadway Corporation (USBC) will utilize the new take on making homebuyer education classes entertaining as well as educational. These groups are using DVDs of the series as part of their community outreach efforts.

The 13-episode series, where hot storylines are combined with meaningful messages, subtly educates viewers on important financial issues including money management, credit, homeownership, predatory lending and foreclosure prevention. These storylines are played out against the traditional novela (soap opera) themes of romance, jealousy, greed and conflict.

Freddie Mac, one of the nation's largest investors in residential mortgages, funded the production of Nuestro Barrio. The Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina (CRA-NC) produced Nuestro Barrio. CRA-NC is a non-profit consumer advocacy organization that also produces original programming for radio and television.

"The housing market is changing, and the mortgage industry is always looking for new and creative ways to reach potential homebuyers," said Craig Nickerson, vice president of Expanding Markets at Freddie Mac. "Educational telenovelas are a unique way to reach the growing Hispanic marketplace with accurate information and to help close the homeownership gap."

"This series is a creative and exciting opportunity to reach out to the rapidly growing Hispanic segment of homebuyers," says Louis Kolker, executive director of the Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership, which offers homeownership counseling and education classes in both Spanish and English. "Programs like this are particularly important at a time when financial education is crucial to getting and keeping people in their homes."

"We are very pleased to be a part of Nuestro Barrio," said Paul Sowards, president of Bank of Albuquerque. "Owning a home is a dream many families hope to one day realize. Nuestro Barrio is a resource that will help move more families toward achieving that goal.

"Freddie Mac has developed a creative and effective vehicle to provide financial education and home ownership information that is interesting and easy to understand. We look forward to working with the Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership and Freddie Mac to bring this information about homeownership to individuals and families in our community."

For more information about attending a homebuyer's education class, contact Rose Perez, housing program coordinator 505-244-1614.

The Nuestro Barrio Storyline

Filmed entirely in Durham, N.C. by CRA-NC, the show is in Spanish with English subtitles. The series subtly introduces valuable lessons on numerous topics including banking, credit and homeownership. The characters learn how to achieve their dream of homeownership, as well as how to recognize and avoid predatory lending practices.

The two major locations in the series are a family-owned restaurant and a nightclub. The owners of the restaurant, Manuel and Marisol, have lived in the U.S. for many years and have seen their restaurant become a gathering place for the community. They help their family and friends navigate life in the U.S. by sharing their experiences, offering guidance and connecting them to community resources.

Monday, December 10, 2007

HGTV Dream Home a Nightmare for Winner

STUART, FL - When Don Cruz won the 2005 HGTV Dream Home Giveaway, he couldn’t imagine the nightmare ahead. Just two years later, the house will be sold in foreclosure proceedings January 1.

HGTV issued a written statement in response to the news. "...there are always options available to winners, including, in many cases, the option to sell the home back to the developer during the first year of ownership and receive cash, as there was in the 2005 HGTV Dream Home Giveaway. We know that Don Cruz and his family had a strong desire to remain in the dream home and now find themselves in this current challenging situation. As we have from the beginning, we will continue to respect their right to make their own decisions."

The majority of past winners sold the property immediately. For Cruz, that wasn’t an option and he doesn’t regret it. In fact, he called his decision to keep the home a blessing in disguise.

Shortly after Cruz and his family moved into the Dream Home, they discovered Cruz’s father had cancer. Then, Cruz’s wife needed brain surgery. Cruz paid for the two surgeries with the money from his home loan. He said he never would have been able to care for his family in need if he didn’t have the house to leverage.

Now, four months behind on the mortgage and over $400 thousand in debt, Cruz hopes to find a buyer before the deadline next week. Cruz has dropped the asking price from $5 million to $1.43 million. With a buyer at $1.43 million, Cruz says he’ll just break even.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Mortgage meltdown hits Latinos

By Diana Marrero • The Indio Sun • December 7, 2007

Until recently, Marco Castillo was living the American dream.

A small-business owner, he owned two homes: a five-bedroom house in Indio where he lived with his wife and two children and a rental property in La Quinta.

But business slowed, Castillo's tenants moved out and the housing market cooled. Castillo, a Mexico City native who runs a pool maintenance business, eventually lost both homes to foreclosure after months of struggling to make payments on two adjustable-rate mortgages that were set to increase.

"Things happen," said Castillo, who now rents a house in La Quinta. "You just have to keep going. If you have your family together, it doesn't matter."

The real estate boom of recent years ushered a record number of Latinos into the housing market. The community hit a milestone this year: Half now own homes. But the recent credit crunch and escalating foreclosure rates threaten to erode some of the gains.

Foreclosures have hit Riverside and San Bernardino counties especially hard. The counties comprise the metro area with the third-highest foreclosure rate in the nation, according to home loan database RealtyTrac.

Across the country, hundreds of thousands of homeowners are facing foreclosure. Many of them are Latino - foreclosures in the community are estimated to reach $24.8 billion this year, according to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

"For many in our community, home ownership is the key to making the American dream a reality," said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the son of Cuban immigrants. "We need to do everything possible to prevent these families from losing their homes."

Jose Miralla, who lives in Beaumont, is already three months behind on the mortgage on his four-bedroom house. He worries he'll lose the house to foreclosure.

His troubles began on closing day, when he was presented with a higher interest rate than he expected. With a credit score of 670, 50 points higher than the general cutoff for a subprime loan, Miralla said he could have qualified for a better rate. But he accepted the subprime rate for fear of forfeiting a $5,000 security deposit.

Miralla, who sells home alarm systems and works on commission, figured he could make the payments although money would be tight. But his sales figures slipped. A newlywed, he now wishes he'd backed out of the deal.

"All the dreams we had to be together, to have a life together have just been ruined," he said.

Miralla, who is Puerto Rican, is among the 42 percent of Latinos who have taken out subprime loans. That's almost twice the percentage of whites with such loans, which typically are given to borrowers with poor credit ratings who are more likely to default.

Taking it on the chin

Adjustable-rate mortgages to subprime borrowers accounted for about 44 percent of all new foreclosures in the second quarter of this year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Many subprime borrowers also refinanced their homes to pay off credit card debt or pay for costly remodeling projects.

Others, including Latinos who have trouble understanding English, were given loans they could never have afforded or that quickly reset at higher interest rates, according to counselors and real estate agents.

Until a few months ago, rapidly rising home prices in California led many potential buyers to opt for nontraditional mortgages such as interest-only loans.

Last year, the state had one of the highest rates of interest-only loans in the country.

"It got out of hand," said Rudy Valenzuela, owner of Century 21 De Oro Realty. "There's a certain percentage of loans that shouldn't have been made."

Valenzuela, who has offices in Cathedral City and Indio, said many Latinos in the Coachella Valley did not understand the terms of their loans.

Some may have signed papers they couldn't read because they were in English. Others may have been duped by real estate professionals, he said.

Carlos Pena, a real estate broker who works in the east valley, said that although lending has gotten tighter, lower prices are making homes more affordable for buyers who qualify for loans.

"There is a lot of inventory," said Pena, who has clients trying to sell homes for less than they're worth because they can't afford their monthly payments.

In the past three months, 450,000 properties across the country were in foreclosure proceedings, according to RealtyTrac. Nevada, California and Florida, which have large Latino populations, were the top three states for foreclosures.

Riverside County has seen a sharp increase in foreclosure proceedings in recent months, with 11,969 filings in the third quarter of this year compared with 3,143 in the third quarter last year, according to RealtyTrac.

Palm Springs had 94 foreclosure filings in September alone.

As foreclosure rates climb, so has the number of homes available for purchase, said Greg Berkemer, director of the California Desert Association of Realtors.

"There is more inventory than there is demand today," he said, noting about 9,000 homes are for sale in the desert.

Real Estate, the nation's premier Latino real estate community online

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hispanics Could Benefits From The New Agreement Reached By Bush and Mortgage Industry

Latinos homeowners should look carefully at this new agreement as it could mean saving their home on foreclosure.

If players in the mortgage industry freezes interest rate for certain sub-prime mortgage loans for five years Latinos across the country could have the time they need to get their finances in place and refinance to a more "friendly mortgage product".

Another benefit could be the possibility to stay longer in their home till market value improves and are able to sale and buy a more affordable home.

Either way I think this is just another tool that Latino homeowners will have to prevent foreclosures but at the end of the day, it is up to then to be responsible and get informed before getting into a risky loan program.

There are non-bias websites and local non-profits willing to take some of their time to educate them.

Real Estate, the nation's premier Latino real estate community online

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Marketing Real Estate to a Multicultural Clientele

By Debra Allen

RISMEDIA, Nov. 27, 2007-Real Estate professionals who adapt to the increase of cultural diversity in the market and who wisely plan to meet the needs of local multicultural and international clients gain a competitive edge and may increase business.

Expanded awareness of diversity may increase home ownership for underserved and immigrant communities, particularly Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, and African-Americans. Through education and outreach, real estate professionals may help to overcome the barriers to ownership for minority communities. Real estate professionals also may provide useful tools and resources such as education and home-buying seminars.

Right now, real estate professionals must improve communication skills with multicultural customers to better understand key demographics and traits of multicultural communities. Separately, training for real estate professionals may include escrow and lending procedures for international clients as well as TRC Certification (Trans National Referral Certification), a certification that costs as little as $99, a one-time fee to NAR.

In 2006, first-time home buyers accounted for 3.23 million home sales. Marketing and selling practices may need to incorporate diversity and serve local, multicultural and international clients.

Real estate professionals need to be both aware of, and sensitive to, cultural differences within marketing and selling practices. Real estate professionals must consistently honor practices that make clients feel comfortable, informed, and valued. They must also identify the professional skills needed for a successful international practice.

According to a National Housing Report released in 2004 by Harvard University, “Immigrant minorities accounted for 27 percent of households in 2003, and will contribute at least two-thirds of net household growth in the coming decades.”

Further, by the year 2030, one out of four people will be of either Hispanic or Asian descent.

Baby Boomers have record income levels that expand their exposure to international markets. Unlike previous generations, they are not downsizing with regard to their homes, but are buying amenity-filled homes. In fact, they are driving a strong demand for second homes - not just in the U.S. - but abroad.

The obvious benefit for creating an international network is global exposure for any and all properties in a given market area.

According to the 2002 U.S. Census Bureau:

The Hispanic community is the fastest growing demographic group in the U.S. currently. During the 1990s, the overall population increase was 12.6%, while the nation’s Hispanic population grew 47%. Home ownership for Hispanic-Americans reached a new high of 46% in 2004.

The Asian-American population is expected to triple from 10.7 million in 2003 to 33.4 million by 2050. The 2002 median income of Asian households was $52,018 compared to $42,409 for all households. Asian and Pacific Islanders have the highest proportion of college graduates, with 47% of people over age 25 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.

By the year 2030, one out of four people will be either Hispanic or Asian in ethnic makeup. Multicultural marketing recognizes a diverse market base, including ethnic and racial minorities.

Following are some tips when using a multicultural marketing approach:

- Learn as much as possible about the traditions and beliefs of your targeted potential clients.
- Do not assume that all minorities are alike. There is considerable diversity within each ethnic segment based on country of origin, language, and social and cultural adaptation to the United States.

Things to look out for when working with multicultural clients:

- Be careful when translating English into foreign languages. Some idiomatic expressions cannot be translated word for word and retain the same meaning.
- Build a group of real estate professionals who speak the language of the ethnic group or groups that you seek to serve.
- Be sensitive about cultural slurs, stereotypes, clichés, and taboos. Understand the nuances in communication, dress, and family values.
- Be prepared to educate your audience.
- Get involved with ethnic communities and their events.
- Consider hiring a specialty advertising agency or marketing consultant to make the communities aware of any special services.

Basics for Multicultural Business Norms and Etiquette:

- Learn at least a few phrases of the other’s language.
- Show appreciation for the other’s customs, music, and art; do not criticize them.
- Be sensitive and nonjudgmental on politics and religion; avoid discussing these topics if possible.
- Build on the other’s cultural heritage to enhance communication, rather than trying to impose your own.
- Extend respect to whomever the customer cares about: the elderly, children, family, the poor, and with whatever the customer identifies, such as religion.
- Acknowledge mistakes and apologize when appropriate.
- Talk less, listen more.
- Do not ask about family unless they are present or the client mentions them first.
- Recognize the need for formality and take more time in doing business than is your normal practice.
- Be punctual, even if it is not customary for the person you are visiting. Many cultures regard lateness as a character flaw.
- Take the blame for language difficulties.
- Do not tell or make jokes; they have a high probability of being misunderstood.
- Show deference to the elderly; stand when they enter, wait for them to speak or extend their hands in greeting.
- Be patient and forgiving if a member of the opposite sex has trouble determining how to treat you. Remember that other cultures differ on the roles of men and women in business relationships and may have difficulty adjusting to expectations in the United States.
- Skip the efforts to create an instant friendship.

Most would agree that we are in a buyer’s market, but many sales people are overlooking two of the fastest-growing demographics: immigrants, and Hispanics.

Immigrants represent 40% of new household formations from 2000 to 2005. In the 25-34 age group, 20% of the population is currently foreign born. 14% of current buyer’s are immigrants; they average a larger down payment of seven percent vs. the four percent down by native-born Americans. The Hispanic purchasing power is projected to equal the third largest economy in the hemisphere by 2010, of how 72% are U.S. citizens.

In good times and tough times, some principles hold true-you must build your business in a systematic way and stay competitive and always two steps ahead of everyone else.

Debra Allen is a Realtor with Prudential Arizona Properties, Gilbert, Ariz. To contact her, e-mail DEBRA.ALLEN@PRUAZ.COM.

RISMedia welcomes your questions and comments. Send your e-mail to:

Real Estate, the nation's premier Latino real estate community online

Five Reasons to Learn about Emerging and Specialty Markets

Five Reasons to Learn about Emerging and Specialty Markets

By John Voket

RISMEDIA, Nov. 29, 2007-

Anyone willing to embrace the growing diversities among consumers should expect numerous opportunities in the real estate space, according to Oscar Gonzales, president and founder of diversity marketing firm The Gonzales Group. Gonzales shared his thoughts at a session titled “Five Reasons Why You Must Learn about Emerging/Specialty Markets,” during RISMedia’s 18th Annual Leadership Conference.
Along with Gonzales, the panel included: Frances Martinez Myers, senior vice president with Prudential Fox & Roach; Alan Thompson, vice president and regional director of emerging markets for Stewart Title; and Margaret Ling, multicultural liaison with Fidelity National Title Group.

Among the many reasons to tap new and emerging specialty markets, five major points surfaced during the 90-minute panel:

1. Stats/Growth

Gonzales peppered the panel and audience during introductory remarks, with a goldmine of statistical details, conjuring up visions of real estate booms seldom seen in the past century-and-a-half.

“By 2050, the Asian and Hispanic population will triple over the rest of the non-Asian/Hispanic population growth rate,” Gonzales explained, quoting credible sources, particularly the U.S. Census Bureau. “The Hispanic population in America already crossed the 300 million mark as of February 2007.”

He reminded the crowd that it was only about 20 years ago the Asian/Hispanic numbers were less than 1% of the overall population. He said the rapidly expanding ethnic populations, especially Asian/Hispanic, are predicted to gain a significant degree of influence in the real estate world as early as 2012.

“The industry will be dealing with significant population shifts,” he predicted.

2. Clients with Buying Power

Gonzales didn’t have to work hard to get the audience’s buy-in with predictions about ethnic market buying power.

“By 2012 (African American household) median income will increase 12.69%, a 237% jump,” Gonzales said. “But take a look at this - while Hispanic income is only predicted to rise 9.54 percent, it represents a 434 percent increase.”

And reinforcing a point made time and time again during the workshop, by 2012, Asian household increases will top 11.95%- a 457% increase-crossing $1 trillion mark by 2009.

The panelists agreed Asian markets are particularly accessible right now because of the limited amount of companies successfully capturing these clients, who Ling reminded, usually higher than median income.

“They pay off early and keep the first house and as an investment,” Ling said, adding that in the case of a lot of young couples, “their family will often give a $100,000 down payment or more.”

Myers observed that her Spanish-speaking clients see the current turbulence in the market as an opportunity, so besides the rapidly increasing population of Hispanic clients who need to buy homes, Realtors can count on those who are out looking because they think now is the time.

“They don’t mind the interest rates,” Myers said of the Hispanic buyers, “but they do want to drive the deal.”

3. Clients for Life

As Ling alluded, both Asian and Hispanic real estate customers seldom resign from established business relationships, especially when it involves real estate. So establishing clients from these demographics often means establishing a key referral source for life.

“They need to know you speak their language,” she said.

Through his research, Thompson learned early on that ethnic clients wanted simple things like in-language documentation.

“At the closing they do not want a translator there because they want to be able to go back to the documentation a year or two down the road without a translator, he said. Armed with ideas on how to attract and retain Hispanic clients, Thompson participated in a Peachtree Latino Festival in Atlanta, and in just a few hours, got 1,199 leads including many for mortgages.

4. Buying Habits

Even agents who don’t speak the language find success in catering to emerging ethnic markets, as long as they understanding particulars of the culture. Myers drew a lot of nods from audience members when she referenced her experiences with the vast majority of her Asian clientele.

“Remember, you might be dealing with the whole family,” Myers said. “And once they decide they like it, they bring their Feng Shui expert in. If that fails, move on to the next piece of property.”

She reiterated a point made earlier about recruiting Japanese and Korean staff who she predicted will, “drive business to your office.”

5. Opportunity to Partner in Emerging Communities

While recruiting multi-lingual staff and agents to one’s company can forge expanded inroads to specialty population, the panel members reinforced that it is just half the battle.

“Join community-specific groups and networking opportunities,” Thompson suggested.
Ling joined in encouraging entrenched office cultures to break free of the status quo, engaging in more diverse networking situations. “You’ve got to get people out to their events in the community,” she advised. “Consider establishing an office and brokerage in the neighborhood.”

“From a marketing perspective, think outside the box. Go to populations who aren’t being served,” Thompson said, recalling a former employer who successfully marketed to a growing Native American population.

“We knew Native Americans were interested in buying properties,” Thompson said. “You’ve got to be fishing upstream, getting the clients before someone else is thinking about it.”

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Online Opportunities

December 2007, HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine
Jenn Holmes
The numbers don't lie: online advertising is no longer an afterthought, but an integral part of media planning that year-to-year has seen larger spending increases than any other type of media. Its tremendous growth, ability to strategically target audiences and provide specific ROI analytics are just a few of the reasons online advertising to Hispanics has a strong outlook for 2008.

In the general market, U.S. Internet advertising revenues for the first six months of 2007 totaled nearly $10 billion – a 27 percent increase over the first half of 2006, and a new record – according to research by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers. Of that, display advertising comprised 32 percent (nearly $3.2 billion).

The trend is also visible in media spending in the U.S. Hispanic market, albeit on a smaller scale, since Hispanic online display ad expenditures represent only 2.81 percent of total U.S. display ad expenditures.

While broadcast and radio still dominate Hispanic ad spending, Internet advertising represents 4.6 percent of the total expenditure in 2007, up from 3.5 percent in 2006.

Hispanic online display ad revenue will reach $179.86 million in 2007, a 36.3 percent increase over 2006 ad revenues, according to HispanTelligence estimates.

The future of the U.S. Hispanic online segment looks even more promising considering the predictions of booming Hispanic purchasing power - surpassing $1 trillion in 2010, or 10.9 percent of total U.S. purchasing power - and the high percentage of U.S. Hispanics that are online.

Research by Pew Hispanic Center earlier this year indicates that 78 percent of English-dominant Hispanics and 76 percent of bilingual Hispanics use the Internet – statistics seconded by a new study from Yahoo! Telemundo and Experian Simmons that shows U.S. Hispanic Internet users consume more media and spend more time with technology than the general U.S. population.
Additionally, with nearly 80 percent of online Hispanics using broadband, the study concludes there is significant growth potential for online video advertising.

The Network
"Latinos are adopting technology a lot faster in terms of percentage of home access, and the penetration of broadband," says Margot Bradley, co-founder and chief operating officer of Coral Gables, Florida-based Hola Networks, which recently launched the first premium online display-advertising network targeted at U.S. Hispanics. "This industry is going to grow by leaps and bounds, which is why we're here."

During the more than two years it took to develop the network, Hola's founders worked closely with the industry, compiling research and asking agencies for wish lists.

"Hispanic agencies said they wanted a networ.....Read Full Story Here!

Real Estate, the nation's premier Latino real estate community online

Monday, December 03, 2007

For Hispanic immigrants, bias isn't only barrier to housing

December 2, 2007

Responding to a wave of anger over the influx of undocumented Hispanic immigrants, town boards across the country have tried to enlist landlords in denying housing to those without legal status.

But in the high-cost suburbs north of New York City, the housing struggle is more about money than ordinances, local housing advocates say.

"From my perspective, the discrimination that's going on is that they (the undocumented) are victims of exploitation," said Ann Spaeth of the Port Chester Council of Community Services. "Because those are the ones who can't complain."

Federal fair housing laws protect people from discrimination based on their race and national origin, but they do not specifically outlaw bias...Read Full Story @


Real Estate, the nation's premier Latino real estate community online

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Why is housing in some cities still booming?

Real Estate: Last of the red-hot marketsWhy is housing in some cities still booming?
The answers may help you navigate your own market.

By Joe Light, Money Magazine staff reporterDecember 2 2007: 10:21 AM ESTNEW YORK (Money Magazine) --

When Elisabeth and Tom Merrill decided to sell their home in Wenatchee, Wash. (pop. 107,000), they braced themselves for a long slog.The couple and their four kids were bursting out of their 2,400-square-foot house, but they had read about the nation's slow-as-sludge real estate market and expected the worst.But their house sold in 10 hours for $387,000, 80% more than they paid six years ago. .

"I was thrilled," says Elisabeth. "I can't believe how fast it happened."While housing prices increased only 3.2% nationally in the year ended June 2007, according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), a government regulator, prices in Wenatchee shot up 24%, partly because a recent influx of retirees boosted demand for housing.Wenatchee is not the only hot spot bucking the national trend. Markets in the Pacific Northwest, Utah and Colorado still boast annual...

BIENVENIDOS AL ÁREA DE ORANDO, AQUÍ SIEMPRE ESTARÁS DIVIRTIÉNDOTE. El centro de la Florida compuesto por cuatros condados, Lake,...